Kuni BMW Service Manager Jeff Cline (left) and Parts Manager Jeff Harlan say Doug Mitchell is their “tire guru,” who works full-time servicing and installing tires.From left: Back counter parts staff includes Chris Cook, Jeff Gunter, Kristie Lamonica, Parts Manager Jeff Harlan, and Don Hampton.Technician Dane Fernandez performs service on a BMW X-7.

Rolling out the complete package

Strong company culture delivers on longtime experience for parts, service, and tire sales with tenured staff

Beaverton, Ore.—Kuni BMW is one busy place, from vehicle sales to the retail and wholesale parts department to a service center that handles 1,200 vehicles a month.

Part of the Holman group since 2016, the dealership was founded by Wayne Kuni who started Kuni Cadillac on Cedar Hills Boulevard in 1969. The BMW store was added in 1972, moving to its current site on nearby Canyon Road in 2007.

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At a glance:

  • Parts employee count: 15
  • Service employee count: 61
  • Number of service bays: 42
  • Monthly car count: 1,200
  • Tire sales/month: $168,000

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Parts Manager Jeff Harlan has been at Kuni for 41 years, his first 11 in the service department prior to transitioning to parts. “Because I worked I both departments, I have a good understanding of the challenges each one faces. We’re all fixed ops and we integrate as a fixed ops team regardless of what side of the counter we’re on. Everyone understands our primary goal is to support our service department and enable every efficiency possible to provide a timely turnaround for our customers.”

With a staff of 13 at the BMW store, including himself, there are two additional staff at the Kuni Collision Center (certified BMW and Lexus Collision Centers at the site of the former Cadillac store) where a manager and staff of 35 handle auto body repairs for customers throughout the Northwest and beyond.

Four back counter staff handle parts needs for the BMW service department, by far the largest percentage of business at 59 percent, Harlan said.

With a total inventory of $1.34 million, Harlan said 55,000 various parts are housed in 7,800 square feet of space on the main floor and mezzanine levels of the main store, as well as at the Kuni Collision Center. Collision-specific parts represent $300-350 thousand, mechanical $350,000, and the crossover inventory is $250,000.

Part of the Automotive Marketing Services (AMS) program, Harlan said some 26 trucks deliver wholesale parts to his customers throughout the greater Southwest Washington and Oregon areas. “In total, we sell parts to customers on the coast, as well as in Central and Southern Oregon. We understand cycle time urgency and required parts accuracy, and we have a very tenured staff with more than 180 years of experience to handle internal and wholesale parts sales with a high level of professionalism.”

A store truck handles collision center and hot-shot deliveries nearby, he said, adding that wholesale collision and mechanical parts represent about 13 percent of overall parts sales.

Maintaining competitive pricing for wholesale customers against aftermarket products, as well as overcoming facility restrictions for handling parts inventory, are challenges that Harlan said he and his staff concentrate on monthly.

Parts staff keeps abreast of technology via an “extensive” BMW online product training, as well as through Holman University, which offers hundreds of online and instructor-led courses for both business and personal development, Harlan said.

With 35 technicians, 30 of them BMW-certified and 20 ASE-certified, Service Manager Jeff Cline said his shop handles 1,200 vehicles a month on average. There are 11 service advisers, all BMW-certified, plus a support staff of 15 (detailers, drivers, etc.).

Other than oil changes, tires and alignments are the largest component of service sales. Both Cline and Harlan are pleased with the number of tires the store markets each month (2,640 from January to April 2019) with average sales of $168,704 per month, Harlan said. Cline said the store does 330 alignments on average each month using Hunter alignment systems that he said provide excellent live data, are accurate, and perform high-quality alignments quickly.

Harlan and Cline say that one reason tire sales are successful involves having a full-time rep from their tire supplier on hand in the customer service lane each day. “He is there on the service drive to measure and inspect every tire that comes on the drive,” said Cline, who was a technical field engineer for BMW of North America for 15 years prior to becoming a fixed ops manager. “It makes a huge difference in sales when we can educate customers about tires and how they perform and wear, as well as advise the condition of their vehicle’s tires on the spot.”

With more than 450 tires on hand, Cline said all staff are trained to handle tire installation and alignments, but one tech is full-time performing tire service and installation.

Cline said the service department at Kuni draws customers from Southwest Washington, greater Portland, the Gorge, and other areas. “We have the largest reach in the Northwest because we have a customer-centric staff, a store culture that can’t be beat, experienced techs, and a true desire to offer our customers the very best service possible.”

No customer is left behind at Kuni because Cline has 142 loaner cars, in addition to shuttle service and Lyft service.

Both self-proclaimed gearheads (they each own and work on 1960s classics), Harlan and Cline said they understand what is necessary for a great customer experience and note that the Holman group allows them to have the flexibility and pathway to succeed. “It’s a collective effort and we’ve created a group culture here that allows for a great customer experience.”

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.