The untold truth to real jobber success

Jan. 1, 2020
Good business relationships will lead customers to call you first with their problems.

Success in the jobber business is built on parts volume. Since jobbers focus on overall sales volume for the day, week, month, quarter and year, this must be true, right?

Jobbers talk about their sales volume from their best service shop customers and what they have accomplished in sustained volume from these customers. They talk about margins they try to achieve, lines they feel they win on and lines they feel they struggle on. Jobbers seek out new programs each year to sell to their customers. Their logic centers on the idea that if you bring in new venues and sell new ideas to the marketplace, then you will enjoy a financially successful jobber business.

If this is the real answer to business success, then why are there not more jobber businesses that are growing market share? And why are there so many one-generation, few two-generation and not many three-generation jobber businesses?

Many one-generation jobber businesses were financially successful because of the owner's efforts. When that owner passes the business on to the next generation, it starts a downward spiral and often is wiped out in as little as five years.

The main error made during the first generation of ownership is that the owner gave everything to his family, creating a comfortable lifestyle for them. But what the first generation often fails to pass on is the very root of its business success. Only a small minority of jobber business owners has succeeded in passing on this secret to the next generation. The original secret of their business success is the passion for the business, their staff, their customers and the industry.

To the customers of these passionate jobbers, the jobber became known as a person who cared and could be trusted. This passion is seldom seen today, as many jobbers are busy chasing sales.

There are companies today, however, that do exist with this passion, and it is truly a joy not only to do business with them, but also to be around them. They are successful in every way that you measure them and have passed on their passion for their business to the next generation.

These companies go out of their way to make sure these customers can succeed in their business. These jobbers have a tendency to ask only one question: How can I help you with your problem?

Many of you reading this article might believe that you can't take this approach with every shop owner, and you are absolutely right. These successful jobber companies know that, too. They are selective as to with whom they want to do real business, and when they find their chosen shop customer, they turn him or her into a client. They live by how they can help their clients with their problems. They go all out for that business owner, making sure they resolve that shop owner's problem.

They truly believe in long-term relationships with their chosen customer base, but they keep all these little success stories very quiet. They don't use gimmicks. They use open, honest, up-front communication and show their sincerity and concern to their chosen customers.

When these business relationships are soundly in place, the customer will think of you first for the answers to their problems. It may be a problem as small as supplying a line of parts, a delivery problem or a billing problem. It also might be a major problem such as obtaining the correct business management training, preparing a detailed proposal to properly finance the business or finding a new shop facility.

The jobber is not expected to address all these problems, but he or she should know where to look for answers. The best jobbers source the right solutions and oversee their implementation to help customers with their problems. They never let their customers down.

I was discussing this with a jobber client who lives with this passion for his clients and this industry. He told me it is too bad the majority of jobbers don't understand this, and that he only wants to see how he can help shop owners with their businesses. He told me that his sales were up 30 percent this month from last year.

If jobbers are in business to sell parts and equipment, what makes you different? It is not the price of parts, as many jobbers think; it is the people you deal with and how you deal with them. It is your passion.

Bob Greenwood is president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre Ltd. (, a technology company based in Ottawa, Ontario. He has more than 30 years of business management experience in the aftermarket. He can be reached at [email protected].