Shop Insight: Lots to talk about in the coming months

Jan. 1, 2020
I?ve never been much of a list maker, at least not until recently. However, as the crush of modern life intensifies, the need for lists of all kinds has become increasingly clear. There are too many things that can fall through the cracks.
As a regular columnist to aftermarket business, and a long time contributor to our sister publication Motor Age, Mitch has his pulse on service dealer issues. Write him a note with any comments or questions you might have. (For Mitch's Motor Age columns, click here.) I've never been much of a list maker, at least not until recently. However, as the crush of modern life intensifies, the need for lists of all kinds has become increasingly clear. There are too many things that can fall through the cracks.

Aside from that, list making is the most effective tool I know when it comes to dealing with the complexities of modern life. In fact, some of the most successful people I know are “list makers.” Consequently, when I accepted the opportunity to begin this dialogue with you, I thought a list or two focused on things that might be of interest on both sides of the parts counter would be a pretty good idea.

The first list was a list of people to talk to on your side of the industry: friends and acquaintances in the distribution industry I’ve worked with over the years. The second was a list of the problems that keep folks like you up at night.

Realistically, I never thought they would be as candid as they were. It was almost as if they were waiting to be asked those questions by someone from my side of the telephone.

I started with five telephone calls and the most fascinating thing of all was that no two individuals shared the same answer.

The first person I spoke with was disconsolate about his returns, 30 percent of which was the result of inaccurate or inadequate vehicle information supplied by his customers. The second was tired of dealing with the constant barrage of complaints regarding deliveries. Regardless of what he did, there were never enough trucks, drivers, or parts runs.

The third person I spoke with was drowning in a constant stream of defects, particularly those involving rotational electric that tested “No Trouble Found,” when sent back to the remanufacturer for inspection and evaluation. The fourth was concerned about customer loyalty and helping his shop owners move their businesses toward success only to have them purchase their parts from another vendor, who is unwilling or unable to provide the same care, concern or quality of service, for a few pennies less.

And the final person I spoke with was frustrated and angry at the futility of trying to manage inventory for an industry unconcerned about inventory or category management.

As we get to know each other better over the next few months, I’d like to revisit one or two of these topics in depth just to see if our experience here in Southern California correlates with the challenges and problems you face in your market. My guess is that they will.

I can’t promise you any answers. What I can promise is that we’ll tackle these important issues head on, and that the debate that follows will be an open, honest and spirited one.

I’m willing to make the lists and take risks if it means getting the dialogue started. Are you?

Note: For the rest of the stories from our May 2003 issue, click here.

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