Clockwise, from top left: Parts Countermen Rich Werner and Mike Kelly, and Parts Manager Kent Carrillo and Counterman Frank Mirabella handle both retail and wholesale efforts at Serramonte Ford.Shop counterman Chris Oleson (left) and Assistant Parts Manager Jeff Hallam maintain a $1,000,000 inventory.Daniel Hernandez coordinates all shipping, logistics and receiving at Serramonte Ford in Colma.

A U.S. leader in powertrain sales

Serramonte Ford’s proximity to airport garners sales to related fleets and the shops that service them

Colma, Calif.—By selling 45-60 remanufactured powertrain units every month, Serramonte Ford is ranked third in the entire country for Ford transmission and engine sales, said Parts Manager Kent Carrillo, who is a 39-year veteran in charge of a $1,000,000 inventory in mechanical and collision parts. He currently manages a crew of 13 parts professionals out of a department that will soon be expanding after a remodel.

“We’re going to get a new office for our counter people with their own workstations” Carrillo said. “It will be a more efficient setup and more convenient for both the counter guys and the customers as well, so we’re happy to modernize our look and improve our effectiveness.”

The customers who Carrillo and his crew serve are primarily wholesale accounts that consist of mechanical and collision shops and fleet companies. With $1.2 million in monthly sales, Serramonte Ford’s parts department also provides parts for its service department, collision center and wholesale customers, Carrillo said. 

“We want to accommodate all of our customers, including the ones who initially bought their vehicles from us and come to us for their warranty work,” he said. “That way, they will still bring their vehicles here long after their warranties have expired. By keeping them in the fold, we have customers that have been bringing their cars here for as long as I’ve been here.” 

In 2008, when dealerships in the Bay Area were closing due to the economic downturn, Serramonte Ford held its own, Carrillo said. He credits much of its survival through building solid relationships with its wholesale accounts and his department’s proximity to SFO.

“We have been here since 1970 in the same location, so longevity goes a long way,” Carrillo said. “The shops in this area know us and know our capabilities, so we’re winning the battle in that regard. The airport is a great source for revenue for us, because there are so many vehicles connected in some way to it, including shuttle vans, light trucks, and sprinter vans. There are a lot of shops surrounding the airport and we know what they need, so we do whatever we can to provide them with great service and they stick with us.” 

To achieve that, Carrillo runs a delivery crew of three full-time drivers who have their own set territories and routes, he said. “We do hot-shot deliveries within a five-mile radius, but our entire area goes from Redwood City to the south all the way to the northern tip of San Francisco. By being flexible and using FedEx in a pinch for two-hour deliveries, we have a very good track record of our wholesale customers getting their parts when they need them.”

By offering attractive incentives to its shop customers, Serramonte Ford moves remanufactured powertrain units at a high rate consistently, Carrillo said. “Ford offers us a lot of support by reaching out to the shops in our region directly,” he said. “They offer $150 rebates on transmissions and $200 on engines and that also helps us to market these larger parts that normally don’t have a high markup.”

By aggressively marketing remanufactured powertrain units on a wholesale level, other good things can happen for Carrillo and his department, he said. “By keeping our customers in the loop with our powertrain efforts, we are able to get a lot of orders for other smaller parts. They will buy an engine or a transmission and need 14-16 other parts to do the repair and, because they’re already buying from us, it’s an easy decision for them. We may not be the biggest in the Bay Area, but by out-performing the competition with the powertrain products, we can capture more of the work that’s out there.”

By working to make his core return policy both seamless and drama-free, Carrillo’s customers respect his transparent approach to what can be an arduous experience for some shops. “We have what’s known as our ‘no-risk core policy’ and I know our wholesale customers appreciate it,” he said. “As long as the unit is in one piece and in the same crate they got it in, we will take it back no questions asked. We don’t want it to be a hassle for the shops. We know that these shops have 100 things going on all the time, so we give them that peace of mind when it comes to the core exchange.”

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.

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