It’s a while since we visited Hills Salvage & Recycling Ltd in Skelmersdale, so it was good to see how their vehicle and parts distribution has progressed… and it was impressive!
Customers get to see what’s going on behind the counter at Hills Motors.
When you have 4,500 vehicles on site, you need to know what parts want to come off and what parts do not, and you need to know pretty quickly; for as with all yards the process is ongoing, with new arrivals coming daily and those vehicles that have been stripped, prepared ready for materials processing.
Hills, Marc Postlethwaite showed me around the new warehouse facility and explained how information is key to the operation. “We break some very recent vehicles here and it’s our researchers who have to be on the ball, so we know not only what the parts’ values are, but what systems operate on the vehicle so that we can understand the interrelation between parts and their saleability. Inventory control is essential.”, Marc explained.
He mentioned a great deal more about vehicle research and analysis; such as knowing what are the major areas where faults occur in a particular model? These parts will be in high demand. Understanding the age range of different models and when parts from those vehicles will no longer be wanted. It’s easy to have shelf space tied up with parts that aren’t going to move quickly. Hills constantly check the movement of parts to avoid this. Marc listed many other examples but the key message was, “know your vehicles and know your parts”.
We mentioned researchers earlier and this is the first time we have heard it described this way in our industry, but researching information is the key. It goes further than the conventional. One of the team came up with a marketable solution for keys, and let’s face it, you get plenty of them. And that was just one example. Extracting the maximum profit from each vehicle is at the very base of Hill’s philosophy.
The internet has not only opened up the market for parts sales, it has given us all the opportunity to research into whatever we wish; in Hills case, vehicles. The other side of the coin to knowing what parts will sell and sell quickly, is getting them to the customer, which as many of you will be aware, is not always straight forward when it comes to couriers. To solve the issues of damage in transit, particularly for items such as body parts, Hills have set up their own distribution service using their own transport. Marc said, “We operate a spoke and hub system where we are the hub and the vans go out on specific routes. This way our customers can be sure they will get what they ordered and not be in for any shocks. It isn’t the cheapest way to do things but we believe it’s worth it to keep our customers coming back.” They still use couriers for smaller and more robust items.
Hills pull all this together using Pinnacle Systems software to keep track of parts availability and movement. The beauty of Pinnacle is that you have all this data at your disposal. This is where you can find out, amongst many other things, what’s stuck on your shelf. Why take a part off if the information shows you already have four in stock and they aren’t moving as quickly as they were.
The site, or I should say sites are impressive but one area that really does impress is the new counter area for customers. There’s a glass screen which lets the customer see the sales office behind which really makes the viewer aware of the scale of this operation. This area includes Hill’s eBay team who are kept more than busy. Any morning when they arrive, they can expect Pinnacle to have downloaded around 200 orders, 150 offers and up to 350 queries – just what you need to kick the day off!
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