Brendan Downey

Age: 35
Parts manager
BMW of Freehold
Freehold, N.J.

Brendan Downey might have figured it out when he was washing cars in 1995 at the same dealership where he now works as parts manager. Or maybe it was when he was cleaning bathrooms or taking out the trash or any of the other one-man jobs he has had at BMW of Freehold (N.J.) over the last 17 years.

At an auto dealership, everyone's success depends on each person working together toward a common goal. That's why Downey trained his cashiers and gives them a spiff to sell parts, and why he recast his parts inventory system to make sure that what his technicians need is always at hand.

"Now we're probably doing about $500,000 a month in [parts] sales, double from when I got here" as parts manager in 2006, Downey says.

Downey says the secret to success is keeping existing customers happy and recruiting new customers by making it easier to get their vehicle serviced.

"We're set up to keep the shop flowing as much as possible, to keep down the amount of loaner cars that are needed," Downey said.

Frank Ghusson, parts and service director for BMW of Freehold, credits Downey for helping to increase parts-order fills -- a measure of having the right parts on hand when they're needed.

"When I got here, we had a parts fill rate of 60 percent. Now we're up in the 90 percent range," Ghusson said. "That means less vehicles we have to hold overnight waiting on parts -- so fewer loaner cars, and we can take on more work."

-- Larry P. Vellequette

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