“Hey there out there in internet-land, it’s getting close to the tax-time, pre-carshow season rush again. Every year in the spring, as tax returns come back, the orders come flooding in. As with anything in the aftermarket, there are only so many of a part around at a time, which is why it can save you a ton of time to get your order in early, lock in that item as yours and have the part in hand sooner, rather than wait and risk that item being out of stock when you finally get around to ordering, which can sometimes mean months of waiting until the manufacturer produces and ships more of that part. That’s why we’re republishing this oldie-but-goodie post because it’s relevant this time of year. Take in some of the words of wisdom below from Co-Founder Mike Brown on springtime orders and everything that comes with that. – Nick Gregson”
I am not the type to make excuses, as I don’t believe there is ever improvement or progress where excuses are being made. However, I do want to draw an analogy that might help to provide more insight into why aftermarket automotive springtime orders take longer (sometimes) and what you can do about it. March is the busiest month for the aftermarket industry. This may surprise many of you – as most think Christmas is the busiest season, but it’s actually springtime that’s busiest while December is one of the slowest months.
Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers are all at their busiest in March. Meanwhile, December, January, and February are all slow months due to much of the country storing their “nice” cars in their garage during the winter. Most people get their tax refund from the US government in March as well, which makes it easier to buy some nice new parts for their vehicle. Better weather around the country combined with tax returns coming in are the top two reasons for March being so busy.
Let’s take a look at how it comes to be this way. Essentially, the industry is operating at around half throttle during the winter months. Then all of a sudden, BOOM – March hits, and it’s busy. This sudden “boom” catches a lot of aftermarket companies off guard. The analogy I like to draw is this: think of a restaurant outside of a major sports event, like an NBA game. That restaurant might have 100 tables inside, and from 11 AM – 3 PM it’s very slow… there are maybe 20-25 tables occupied. There’s no wait to sit down at a table. Food comes quickly & accurately, people get their orders no problem. Then all of a sudden, a few hours before the game starts, there is a huge rush and all 100 tables are occupied, with 40 more people waiting outside to be seated. When the demand greatly exceeds the ability to satisfy those demands, what happens? The waiters get overwhelmed, make errors in customer orders, under stress from the dining room, the kitchen makes their own mistakes and swamped by a crowd, the bartenders start making really poor quality drinks… you get the picture.
I’ve been in the automotive aftermarket industry for 10 years. EVERY March, I see the industry get overwhelmed, and suddenly, here at ModBargains, we’re faced with situations where it becomes much more difficult to make our customers happy. If we are sold out, our manufacturer is sold out, and there is a problem with a part or a customer wants to buy a new part, there will be a wait time, and there is nothing anybody can do about that.
While nobody can predict the future 100% accurately, we have gotten much better at anticipating the stress on our suppliers during this period so we can compensate for this. We do this by trying to stock up on extra inventory during slow months to have adequate inventory available for the busy months, as well as by setting accurate delivery time expectations with customers ordering during the March busy season. Of course, there are still plenty of ways we can improve, and our jobs of making ModBargains a better and better company will never be done! Regardless of what’s happening in the industry, though, our focus remains the same: make customers happy, despite the stress and chaos going on in March behind the scenes.
If you’re an individual car enthusiast, a ModBargains customer reading this, what can you do? Here are four helpful tips to help minimize any potential frustrations this spring.
1. Try to order your parts during non-peak months, if possible. If you can order your parts in January/February, before the rush, you will get your items shipped quickly – and you will most likely avoid any backorders caused by retailers/distributors selling out of parts, then needing to have their manufacturers do another production run.
2. Ask specific, detailed questions to your sales rep before placing your order. Be very clear in all of your communication, estimated ship dates, and your expectations of this order. You are most likely talking to a VERY busy individual. Be as clear and specific as possible, and let us know if you have any deadlines, like an upcoming track day, car show or installation appointment.
3. NEVER schedule an installation appointment before you have your parts in hand, it is disrespectful to your local installation shop, since there’s a significant chance you might have to cancel on them if the parts don’t show up exactly on time. Your installer has carved out time on their lift for you the day of your install, be sure they’re not keeping the bay empty for nobody. It’s also worth noting that you should NEVER start installing a part before checking the item you’ve got is complete and has all hardware before you tear your car apart.
4. Be understanding. In the heat of the moment and being upset about your parts not being in hand, it can be hard to keep a cool head, and it’s easy to hurt feelings and damage relationships. Yelling and threatening, or posting on the forums that your retailer is a terrible company that lied to you, is just not the right thing to do. You are potentially destroying your relationship with that retailer. Not to mention it’s awful for the person on the other end of the phone – nobody likes being screamed at, and it seldom helps. We are car enthusiasts just like you, and we want to help you. At ModBargains, we’ll do everything in our power to make it right for you when we run into problems with an order. Give us a chance to show you the great service we’re known for. Please let us make the situation right for you – give us the chance to fix the problem before publicly calling us terrible people.
Thanks for reading, I hope this gives you a better insight into the industry – and a better understanding of how things may take longer to get during Tax Refund Season. Our purpose here at ModBargains is to share our expertise, experience, and enthusiasm in an effort to make the world a better place for automotive enthusiasts. Let me know how you think we are doing, leave me a comment below and share this post with your automotive enthusiast friends.
Story by Mike Brown