Timing belt inventory: kits versus components

by | Jun 28, 2018 | 0 comments

When it comes to replacing a timing belt more and more service providers are advising customers that the related components in the system – tensioner, water pump, and idlers – be replaced at the same time.

One of the most efficient ways to accomplish this is through using replacements kits, which help to make a difficult job that much easier.

However, kits are not always the solution, so it’s important for jobbers to keep an inventory of individual components on hand.

Keeping the right balance between kits and components, managing your investment while still providing high service levels, is critical to success in this market segment.

Primarily, it’s important to focus on the success of the repair by your customers.

“The timing system itself can be a difficult one when it comes to replacing one component at a time,” says Tyler Brown, market development manager with Gates Canada. “Typically when the belt is ready for replacement, it is very likely that the tensioner, water pump and idlers are also due for replacement. Since the timing system is so complex, it makes sense to complete the entire job at that time to avoid future issues.”

The whole concept of systems component selling was born out of necessity, explains James Zhang, marketing and product management administrator with Dayco Canada. “Much longer service intervals, coupled with the complexity and time necessary to do the repairs, meant the tech wanted to do the job once and do it right, preventing unnecessary comebacks. The cost associated with the additional parts was insignificant compared to the actual labour cost to do the job. Through education and training, techs have adopted this philosophy.”

The result, Brown believes, will be an increase in sales coupled with less comebacks and warranty claims. “Gates always pushes the message to perform the complete job whenever possible, which makes stocking the timing kit with water pump a priority over individual components.”

However, not all customers are ready (or the replacement job suitable) for complete system replacement. In this case, it’s advisable to stock a combination of complete kits and individual components second.

So jobbers need to make strategic decisions on how to make the proper inventory investments for their particular customer base.

“We are able to make stocking recommendations using our popularity listing, which is generated using several metrics, including vehicles in operation (VIO) and sales,” Brown advises. “Focus should be on bringing in the top moving 80-90% of timing kits first, and then taking a look at the individual components second.” He provides the following metrics as a guideline:

Percentage of Sales Coverage
Timing belt Component Kits with Water Pump
  • 10 SKUs= 50%
  • 23 SKUs= 75%
  • 30 SKUs= 82%
  • 44 SKUs- 90%
Timing Belt Kits without Water Pump
  • 10 SKUs= 65%
  • 20 SKUs= 80%
Individual Timing Belts
  • 9 SKUs= 50%
  • 15 SKUs= 63%
  • 28 SKUs= 80%

“I agree that the customer should still be stocking some of the individual timing components, but due to the industry shift to kits, they do not require the same amount of focus. Our recommendations for the individual components would take on a similar approach to the kits, with the difference being a recommendation of the top 50-60% of cumulative sales, versus the 80-90% for the complete timing kit. This should provide the proper coverage necessary to effectively serve the individual jobber’s customer base.”

Even within the kit category, there are options for jobber to consider. For example, Continental offers a number of timing belt kit options, to provide options for jobbers to offer customers.

At the premium end, for example, there is the Elite by Continental Pro Series offers kits with Timing belt, tensioners, idlers, water pump, and the Prod Series Plus kits which add cam seals, and balance shaft seals, and it also offer the Elite by Continental Series kits that serve an economical alternative for consumers with early model vehicles toward the end of their life cycle.

CRP Automotive also introduced ContiTech Black Series kits with a focus on providing an economical option for older vehicles

Of course, every jobber’s customer base is unique, and individual inventory requirements will naturally vary depending on region, customer vehicle trends, and other variables. Both Dayco’s Zhang and Gates’s Brown advise that the best solution is to work with your individual sales rep, who is trained to provide individual guidance to optimize inventory for their unique circumstances. In addition, a number of tools are available to help jobbers fine-tune their inventories.

At Gates, “One approach we take is called PRO (Parts Review & Optimization), which takes a snapshot of the customer’s inventory and uses several metrics to assist in making a recommendation. The program helps identify certain areas that the customer could improve in, as well as eliminating some of the parts that may not be worth stocking. It is then our sales rep’s job to communicate the store’s upgraded inventory to their customers.”

There are a number of newer applications/kits/components are currently seeing a rise in popularity that jobbers should take notice of.

Dayco has just released a belt tensioner kit, available in two formats: one as a system component sell (belt and tensioner together), and the other as an OE fix/problem-solver for fussy or noisy drives. “By offering both options and through education, the professional installer can make the best decision of which is necessary for the task at hand.”

Gates is about to launch its Complete system, which takes the same kit-based approach to the accessory drive system. The kit will include the serpentine belt, tensioner and idler pulleys that are necessary to complete the entire job. “Every day we see belts being returned as defective for making noise,” Brown observes. “This is very rarely the sign of a belt issue and almost always the case of the tensioner requiring replacement, or the drive being misaligned. With the Complete kit, we are taking on a problem-solving approach to repair the entire accessory system at one time, resulting in fewer comebacks and warranty claims.”

For more information, visit:

Dayco at www.daycoproducts.com

Continental at www.continental-elite.com

Gates at www.gates.com

CRP Automotive at www.crpautomotive.com.

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