The most important department in a dealership (without it you won’t survive!)

The Most Important Department In A Truck Dealership1By Charlie Nichols, TAG Truck Center

Which department is most important in a heavy–duty commercial truck dealership? Which department contributes the most? Which department is the one you cannot survive without?

Is it the truck sales department? Well, there’s an old saying: “Nothing happens until somebody sells something…Nothing.” Whenever a truck is sold, it’s like throwing a rock into a pond. A lot of things begin to happen. The truck must be spec’d and ordered, paperwork has to be processed, financing has to be arranged, PDI’s have to be performed. And, a truck being placed in the territory means more parts and service sales in the future. So, is truck sales the most important department in a truck dealership?

Or, is it the service department that’s the most important? We’ve all heard this saying before: “A truck salesman can sell the first truck but it’s the service department that sells the second, third, and fourth truck.” If the service department doesn’t perform well, customers will buy their trucks elsewhere. Likewise, if the service department delivers fast, accurate repairs, customers will buy more trucks because they’re pleased with the service they get after the sale. So maybe it’s the service department that’s the most important to the dealership.

Not so fast. Maybe the parts department is most important? Some would say that the parts department is a dealership’s bread and butter. After all, the parts department has the highest revenue and, without the parts department, the service department wouldn’t be able to do its’ job at all. So maybe it’s the parts department a dealership can’t live without?

But wait, maybe the most important department is the administration department? They do all the critical day to day things that must be done to keep the company going.

Have you ever tried to sell a truck without a bill of sale, MSO, title work, delivery receipt, finance contracts, insurance documents and other related paperwork? It can’t be done. Ever try to collect a warranty claim from an OEM without a good warranty administrator? Same thing. It can’t be done.

In fact, a truck dealership simply could not exist without the administrative folks. Payroll, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, IT, etc., all of these and a variety of other functions of admin are vital, and without the hard work of a lot of people, many things wouldn’t get done. And what about the F & I Department? Rather than simply being a department that helps facilitate truck sales, F & I can be a significant profit center for the dealership.

So, which department is the most important?

The answer, of course, is obvious. They are ALL important. And, because they’re all so closely interconnected, not one of these departments can survive without the other. Each department is necessary for the successful operation of a truck dealership. The contribution of everyone is important.

But is there one “department” that is the most important? Yes. That “department” is the CUSTOMER.

Here’s what’s absolutely critical to the success of a commercial truck dealership: Each department and everyone’s function in the organization, must revolve around the customer. To be successful, a truck dealership must ensure that every aspect of its operation is completely focused on customer satisfaction and the overall customer experience. Every person in every job function must remember that the customer is the fuel that drives the train.

Never forget that the most important “department” in a successful truck dealership is the customer. Without the customer, everything grinds to a halt!

Charlie Nichols lives in Paducah, Ky. He is general manager of the TAG Truck Center in Calvert City, Ky., an Elite Support Certified dealer carrying both the Freightliner and Western Star brands. TAG Truck Center, along with Lonestar Truck Group, operates 21 heavy duty commercial truck dealerships throughout nine states.

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