Collision parts program helps dealerships with aftermarket competition

Jessica Thompson

Toyota Motor North America is working to help its retailers become more competitive with aftermarket parts suppliers on collision repairs.

In December, Toyota became the latest automaker to join CollisionLink, a tool offered by Richfield, Ohio-based vendor OEConnection. The tool gives participating dealerships electronic visibility into an entire body shop estimate — not just the parts the shop planned to buy from the dealership. Participating automakers also can discount prices on specific parts.

The program is intended to help give dealerships more opportunities to sell original manufacturer parts. CollisionLink works with more than 15 automakers, including General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the company said.

Toyota will reduce prices on more than 3,600 specific parts, said Rod Amezcua, senior parts analyst at Toyota Motor North America. He declined to quantify the discounts Toyota will offer but said pricing is set based on the automaker’s analysis of market prices and will vary based on the part.

About 170 Toyota dealerships used CollisionLink before the automaker added its pricing support to the program last year, Toyota said, and the figure has since increased to about 200.

Amezcua said Toyota expects that number to grow among the 900 or so eligible stores not served by two private distributors. Before, he added, Toyota dealerships had an “electronic ordering platform with no additional support from us.”

More than 15,000 collision shops in the U.S. are active on CollisionLink, said Jon Palazzo, general manager of e-commerce for OEConnection. More than 7,200 U.S. dealerships participate in the program, he said.

Fred Beans Auto Group, of Doylestown, Pa., has used CollisionLink since the mid-2000s with other participating automakers. The group’s parts center could see a 5 percent lift in its overall parts business for Toyota, said Denny Loux, operations director of the Fred Beans Parts Center.

It’s too early to quantify how the program might contribute to additional parts sales, Amezcua said.

OEConnection said CollisionLink was launched to enable electronic parts ordering, phase out the use of fax or phone and increase visibility and efficiency for both dealerships and body shops.

Before the advent of online parts ordering, Fred Beans would handle parts transactions over the phone or receive faxed collision estimates with redacted sections for parts the body shop planned to order from another supplier, Loux said.

“You’re trying to figure out what they’re blacking out to see if you can sell the parts,” he said. “A lot of guys that have been in the business today, they know that when they see a front end hit and that we’re not seeing a radiator or an A/C condenser or something like that, that it’s usually going to the aftermarket.”

Now, Loux said, “the less time that we can spend on the phone talking to a shop and the more time that we can be actually doing the order or doing the estimate online, it’s improved our efficiency.”

OEConnection plans to deepen its data-sharing this year to help collision repair facilities increase their own efficiency, Palazzo said. That includes allowing body shops to look up specific parts needed for a vehicle repair — by VIN, not just by make, model and year — and give them more visibility into a dealership’s available inventory, Palazzo said. That will roll out with a few automakers starting this spring, he said.

“Some shops run more like production facilities than they do repair facilities,” he said. Eliminating that friction makes a dealership “become that much more valuable to the shop.”

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