School Transportation News reached out to several school bus dealers nationwide for updates on what their customers are most often requesting in terms of parts ordering as well as repair and installation needs.
At A-Z-Bus Sales, a Blue Bird and Collins dealer based in Colton, California, Operations Manager Rick Eckert said that customers have begun to request more parts online, though demand remains relatively low. But he forecasts that to eventually change.
“Our customer base still likes the personal touch of dealing with our part counter staff and making sure that they are getting what they need,” he explained. “We do think this will change over the next few years since Amazon, eBay and other online stores are having much success.”
Leonard Bus Sales, a New York dealer specializing in IC Bus and Trans Tech for the school bus market, is seeing its customers increasingly taking advantage of the company’s online parts ordering systems, said Jon Leonard. This is especially true of VIN-specific parts. But nothing beats old-fashioned, person-to-person interactivity.
“We find that customers still need to talk to our parts expert for advice and in some cases to verify that they are buying the right part,” he added.
Bob Newman, the regional parts and service manager at Thomas Built Buses dealer Midwest Bus Sales, said most customers are shy about using the Internet as they still want or need assistance in looking up parts. He added that Midwest’s mobile parts truck that travels to school districts and allows customers
to view specific parts and ask questions is a popular option.
“(It) gives them comfort in the right part and quality of part before they purchase,” he added.
Reprinted from the February 2017 issue of School Transportation News magazine.