POWAY, California (April 25, 2005) – The automotive aftermarket, like any industry, is constantly searching for innovations that can move its commerce forward. In early 2002, Mitchell 1 and O’Reilly Auto Parts joined forces to create a partnership that would build customer loyalty by helping repair shops save time and money using an electronic parts ordering system. After nearly three years, both companies are hailing the partnership a resounding success.

At the onset of the partnering, ordering aftermarket parts electronically was an under employed efficiency. Several industry leaders had already spent valuable resources trying to create a synergy between the parts vendor industry and many of the installer customers within the automotive industry. Their efforts were unsuccessful.

Nevertheless, top management at Mitchell 1 and O’Reilly Auto Parts were determined to forge an alliance that would innovate the electronic parts ordering arena, still a dawning technology at the time. Now, the two companies are boasting a three-year track record that gives value to both the parts vendor and the installer customer, and has increased electronic parts sales over a thousand fold.

“We attribute the success of the partnership to a commitment of critical resources from both sides of the table.”said Dave Ellingen, president and CEO for Mitchell 1. “There is a great deal of mutual respect between our two companies that has helped drive the success of this program.”

Since joining forces with O’Reilly, Mitchell1 has steadily built up a network of parts affiliates to provide both electronic cataloging and e-commerce connectivity to Mitchell1 customers who use the OnDemand5 Manager/ManagerPlus management system. Each of the network parts providers communicates using the software to facilitate the parts ordering process. Now repair shops, large and small, independent and company owned, have an opportunity to streamline their parts ordering processes to save time and reduce labor costs. It is a feat that no one else in the industry had been able to accomplish on a large scale.

“Our vision for this program was to put the best management system in the industry in place as a platform to facilitate electronic parts ordering.” said Ted Wise, COO and co-president of O’Reilly Auto Parts. “Bottom line, what we now have in place is a system that helps the repair shop owner fix more cars and make more money using better tools.”

The pairing of Mitchell 1 and O’Reilly gives professional installers electronic access to the O’Reilly aftermarket parts, tools, supplies, equipment and accessories. It’s a partnership that provides the tools for an effortless 24/7 communication between part vendor and shop owner, facilitates the overall workflow of both, increases productivity of both and thus improves profitability for both companies. The Mitchell 1 pricing matrix allows the O’Reilly customer to maintain a consistent profit margin. In addition to that profit generation, the O’Reilly Auto Parts earn-back policy provides Mitchell 1 customers with an earn-back on parts ordered electronically further reducing the installer’s Mitchell1 monthly investment.

O’Reilly Auto Parts management cite several factors that have contributed to the program’s success. Overall, they have witnessed an increase in O’Reilly store productivity as professional installer customers “help themselves” via electronic ordering, giving the O’Reilly team member more time to help with the difficult scenarios that require direct involvement. Another advantage: as repair shop customers take ownership of the parts ordering process and have access to parts ordering alternatives, the “send me both parts” approach to parts ordering is greatly reduced. The result: greater efficiency for both part vendor and installer.

To date, Mitchell 1 has instituted numerous successful parts distributor partnership programs with other industry leaders such as GPI/CARQUEST, BWP/CARQUEST, Auto Value/Bumper-to-Bumper, Hahn Automotive, Parts Depot Inc., Lee Automotive and MAWDI.

About the Author

Jill Schafer

Jill Schafer is the Marketing Communication Manager at Mitchell 1 and has over 20 years of marketing experience with high-technology organizations, including over 10 years in the automotive information industry.