SEMA News—January 2021

RETAIL BEST PRACTICES

How 4 Wheel Parts Continues to Thrive Even During the Pandemic

Still Open for Business

By Chad Simon

4WP
Despite the pandemic, 4 Wheel Parts customers are still buying parts, working on project vehicles and hitting the trails.

COVID-19 has forced brick-and-mortar retailers to rethink the way they conduct business. Many have responded by implementing one-way aisles, social-distancing measures and installing physical barriers between the employees and customers. Despite these changes, some retailers have succeeded in adapting and finding ways to retain a loyal customer base. A case in point is 4 Wheel Parts, which operates a chain of retail stores servicing off-road enthusiasts.

SEMA News spoke with Kathryn Reinhardt, 4 Wheel Parts senior marketing manager and a member of the SEMA Board of Directors, to find out how the company has managed to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and thrive despite the pandemic.

SEMA News: How has COVID-19 changed the way you do business?

Kathryn Reinhardt: The pandemic provided our teams with some unforeseeable challenges. It wasn’t something we could predict or simply go to plan B. Our consumers stayed steadfast and wanted to start working on project vehicles during their time at home. We saw some big increases in terms of units being sold online. We even saw an increase in installations at the retail stores. We are grateful to have consumers who are adventurous, can find the paths unpaved and look to 4 Wheel Parts as their parts supplier even during
a pandemic.

SN: What challenges have you faced over the past year, and how are you overcoming them?

KR: We have had challenges with vendors not being able to supply enough product to meet the demands of our consumers. Due to the pandemic, a lot of our vendors’ operations closed and manufacturing stopped. We were able to reforecast and work directly with vendors to meet the supply.

SN: How have you adapted business practices during the pandemic, and how do you manage the salesroom floor?

KR: The sales floor has dramatically changed. We have implemented one-way aisle arrows, added counter table barriers, required masks, and installed clear partitions (thanks to Fab Fours). Our customers have appreciated the extra layers of safety and security to ensure that they are protected.

4WP
The sales floor at 4WP has dramatically changed. The company has implemented one-way aisle arrows, added counter table barriers, required masks and installed clear partitions.

SN: How have you been able to continue bringing people into the store and reassure customers that not only are you open for business, but it’s also safe?

KR: During the pandemic, 4 Wheel Parts offered free inspections to first responders and essential workers. We wanted to give frontline workers peace of mind that they could get to their jobs safely and securely, and if that meant 4 Wheel Parts providing an open bay, then we wanted to do that, because it was the right thing to do. Our customers know we do everything we can to ensure their safety and the safety of our team members. That’s why masks, buffer tables, one-way aisles and counter partitions were required.

SN: How have you been able to succeed despite COVID-19, and what do you attribute to your success?

KR: The 4 Wheel Parts business is thriving. We are connecting with more consumers online and in store than we ever have. Our customers have taken social distancing to the max by purchasing overland products and accessories and putting them to use in the outdoors.

SN: Are all employees working remotely and how does that impact operations?

KR: All 95 of the 4 Wheel Parts stores are open and serving customers. Some of our employees are working remotely, but our communication is better than ever, and our production is at top speed.

SN: Are you selling mostly online, in store or both?

KR: Both. We have seen an increase in buying online and pick up in store.

SN: What types of e-commerce do you find most effective in marketing your company?

Source  
4 Wheel Parts
400 W. Artesia Blvd.
Compton, CA 90220
310-900-7725
www.4wheelparts.com
 

KR: We have had success in a multitude of platforms. Social-media posts, stories and our website have been placed for consumers to find first-to-market products, learn off-roading tips and share their rig builds. Right now, people want to feel connected. The pandemic limited our in-person discussions, so people moved online to research parts and keep in the loop.

SN: What advice would you offer other retailers struggling to operate during COVID-19?

KR: Be open to how consumers want to shop, and do everything you can to make them feel special and safe.

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