As business conditions have become increasingly challenging, all fleets and maintenance operations have had to get the most they can for any capital expenditure. As maintenance managers continue to look for ways to maximize the return on investment, more and more are now considering taking advantage of the benefits offered by national parts purchasing programs.
Through such programs, fleets and maintenance shops are able to, among other things:
- Simplify parts procurement.
- Negotiate consistent parts pricing.
- Control expenditures by assigning user-specific spending limits and putting safeguards in place.
- Arrange for custom, local, central or electronic billing, as well as custom inventory.
To learn how national parts purchasing programs can benefit maintenance operations and fleet, I spoke with Eugene Krywyj, director of corporate accounts for Parts Associates, Inc. (PAI). With corporate headquarters in Parma, OH, and distribution centers in Parma and Atlanta, GA, PAI has led the maintenance, repair and operations industry in parts distribution for more than 60 years, stocking more than 45,000 products and over 350,000 special request products. Visit www.pai-net.com for more information.
Fleet Maintenance: Please elaborate on why it is worthwhile for fleets and shops to consider getting involved with a national parts purchasing program.
Eugene Krywyj: As today’s business climate grows more competitive, engaging in a national parts program allows businesses, especially smaller operations, to better compete by enjoying the benefits usually offered to larger companies. These benefits include competitive pricing, smaller order minimums and a broader range of product availability.
This results in lower overall costs, allowing the company to have more flexibility when competing for business.
FM: Please elaborate on the benefits and advantages of participating in a national parts purchasing program.
EK: Most national programs provide for negotiated pricing with vendors, resulting in lower acquisition costs. This is typically accomplished by combining volumes of larger or multi-location facilities, which results in substantial discounts from vendors being passed on to members.
Some national programs allow for freight considerations, ranging from reduced shipping rates with small order minimums, to freight prepaid on any value order.
Most national programs offer an individual that calls on the locations regularly, and are the dedicated point of contact.
A variety of services are offered, ranging from order generation, research and technical support, to maintaining the cleanliness and organization of the stocking area.
Further still, some programs offer a wide variety of value-added services, such as inventory management programs, rebates and customized reporting.
FM: Are there any costs, such as membership fees, annual dues, etc., to participate in a national parts purchasing program?
EK: Most national programs do not require fees to be paid unless they are larger associations that make available a substantial product offering, such as tires, brakes, equipment, bulk fluids and engines.
In almost all cases however, some type of purchasing agreement is presented with a customer commitment required for a specified period of time.
FM: What types of information does a company need to look at to determine if joining a national parts purchasing program makes good business sense?
EK: When considering a national program, determine if your business fits the member criteria. This could include projected volume, number of locations or types of services provided.
FM: What are the key considerations in choosing a national parts purchasing program?
EK: If there is a fit, other considerations should include the overall pricing competitiveness, service levels, product offering depth and quality, and the integrity of the supplier.
It is also beneficial to ask the supplier for current clients that would provide quality feedback on the company and program.
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