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Informational Bulletin: Enhancements to PartsTrader Inspired by User Feedback

By Dale Sailer on 13 Sep 2012

In an ever-changing collision repair marketplace, PartsTrader, a web-based collision part sourcing, quoting and ordering application, continues to update its product offering to ensure that it is relevant to today’s collision repair professional.

PartsTrader was created to address a number of the industry’s well-documented challenges with the current parts procurement process. These challenges include part return percentages in the double digits; inefficient time spent on the phone confirming part availability, part quality and pricing; poor or inaccurate documentation of part numbers or other critical information; concerns about supplier accountability; turnover of knowledgeable personnel; utilizing multiple systems to source parts depending on their type; and poor decision support tools to validate parts purchasing decisions.  Industry experts have long agreed that ‘workarounds’ put in place to address these inefficiencies have themselves created further inefficiencies, negatively impacting cycle time and ultimately customer satisfaction.  While a portion of these issues have been successfully addressed by some individual market participants, these issues continue to plague the market as a whole. 

Changes to the PartsTrader product continue the company’s efforts to methodically address each of these challenges. Input from real users piloting the application as well as a broad perspective of industry participants on the PartsTrader Advisory Council has been critical in determining priority on development of enhancements and new features.

One of the repairers in the current pilot sees the benefit of both efficiency and repairer choice.  “I've become more adept with the product and confident with the suppliers and the results they’re producing.  I've changed my approach to the estimating process and am now using it as a sales tool to increase my closing ratio.”  He went on to say that “the even greater value is on the backside.  I have been able to manage my time more efficiently in the creation of the estimate, and more importantly, I'm no longer bound by the conventional ‘business hours’ of my suppliers when it comes time to order the parts.”

This perspective has been supported by a lean process consultant who has analyzed the PartsTrader workflow in a live shop environment and determined that it is highly efficient, with the ability to materially increase a repairer’s work capacity while not adding estimating or administrative staff.  While the typical repair requires an estimator to spend between 16 and 60 minutes of work time (depending on the size of the loss) actively sourcing and ordering parts, often with a measurable level of error, an estimator utilizing PartsTrader only spent an average of 3-4 minutes of active work time per job, regardless of job size, with reduced errors.  The newly ‘found’ time can then be used on other value-added activity within the repairer’s business.

It is this found time that is enabling the pilot repairer above to not replace an employee who is in the process of leaving his business, because “the system has the ability to ‘manage’ the parts, along with the suppliers.”  He went on to say that “for a business that has as part of its clear long term strategy to become more efficient in its day to day operations and to contain its costs, I am very optimistic that the PartsTrader program will help us achieve these objectives.”

Toward that end, the PartsTrader development team is actively working on the next series of updates to the application. These include two-way estimatics integration, and repairer and supplier management reports which are now in final testing. The next set of priorities for the product development include further integrations, as well as a comprehensive feedback and ratings system. Each of these enhancements will bring additional benefit to the parts procurement supply chain, and only further strengthen the PartsTrader value proposition.

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