Repairing your weakest link

Jan. 1, 2020
You make or distribute a great product. You have your inventory totally dialed in.

You make or distribute a great product. You have your inventory totally dialed in. You hire employees to work on your parts counter and phones selling those products to your customers. It all sounds so simple, but the hardest part is the last part of the equation.

Your employees may be the single largest constraint to your business. It all revolves around the weakest link in your process; communication. Communication is the one thing that differentiates your business as a hero, go to source or the last ditch effort. Yes, we do think this way and it doesn’t matter how good your product is, if you fail to communicate I am looking for a supplier who does. I can think of a company who sells an excellent performance product that doesn’t return phone calls and literally takes week to fill an order. I will avoid using them at all costs unless the customer insists.

There are two ways you are likely to receive your orders, electronically or by phone. Let’s talk about the phone first., and address my biggest pet peeve: Please don’t allow your trainees to answer the phone unless they are being monitored by an experienced employee. Spending 10 minutes on the phone to get a part that I don’t have a catalog for just doesn’t work. It is your job to train counter people not mine. Imagine the result if I put a trainee service advisor on the counter and left them to their own devices.

For the experienced counter folks, we understand that sometimes you have to go through quite a bit of effort to track down a part number for us. We appreciate what you do.

Rather than keeping us on hold while you look, you typically promise to call us back once you have information for us. On a daily basis at least one of our suppliers fails to call back on an item that is indicated to be in stock but isn’t, or puts off finding the part we need so long that a same-day fix turns into two days.

PAGE 2

It’s a lot of fun to tell a customer that it will be two days to get a drain plug gasket for their car when one was available across town at 9 a.m. when I first asked, but now is impossible to acquire at 4 p.m. As an industry, it is the little things that make us look bad.

The only real difference in electronic parts ordering is that many systems do not have real-time inventory so we will need to hear from you when a part will arrive. Many of us who use electronic parts systems are also tech friendly with email and texting. In many cases, this will save your people time because they are even better at it than we are. A lot of the younger counterpeople would prefer texting or email anyway. You will have little upfront time to create a database to use.

A side note on electronic ordering; if you have real-time inventory, you are not getting a real lost-sale report unless you allow the user the option to indicate that they would have bought the part if you had it in stock. Basing these reports on lookups is not real. I might just be researching parts that cross several years for an older model or a hot rod in the shop only really intending to buy one of the 20 or so items I looked up.

I think most of the repair industry gets that there may be more part numbers than people on the planet. You can’t have everything all the time. What you can do is provide useful communication that let’s us know if and when you can help us in a timely manner. Perfect that and you will be my go-to guy.


 

You make or distribute a great product. You have your inventory totally dialed in. You hire employees to work on your parts counter and phones selling those products to your customers. It all sounds so simple, but the hardest part is the last part of the equation.

Your employees may be the single largest constraint to your business. It all revolves around the weakest link in your process; communication. Communication is the one thing that differentiates your business as a hero, go to source or the last ditch effort. Yes, we do think this way and it doesn’t matter how good your product is, if you fail to communicate I am looking for a supplier who does. I can think of a company who sells an excellent performance product that doesn’t return phone calls and literally takes week to fill an order. I will avoid using them at all costs unless the customer insists.

There are two ways you are likely to receive your orders, electronically or by phone. Let’s talk about the phone first., and address my biggest pet peeve: Please don’t allow your trainees to answer the phone unless they are being monitored by an experienced employee. Spending 10 minutes on the phone to get a part that I don’t have a catalog for just doesn’t work. It is your job to train counter people not mine. Imagine the result if I put a trainee service advisor on the counter and left them to their own devices.

For the experienced counter folks, we understand that sometimes you have to go through quite a bit of effort to track down a part number for us. We appreciate what you do.

Rather than keeping us on hold while you look, you typically promise to call us back once you have information for us. On a daily basis at least one of our suppliers fails to call back on an item that is indicated to be in stock but isn’t, or puts off finding the part we need so long that a same-day fix turns into two days.

PAGE 2

It’s a lot of fun to tell a customer that it will be two days to get a drain plug gasket for their car when one was available across town at 9 a.m. when I first asked, but now is impossible to acquire at 4 p.m. As an industry, it is the little things that make us look bad.

The only real difference in electronic parts ordering is that many systems do not have real-time inventory so we will need to hear from you when a part will arrive. Many of us who use electronic parts systems are also tech friendly with email and texting. In many cases, this will save your people time because they are even better at it than we are. A lot of the younger counterpeople would prefer texting or email anyway. You will have little upfront time to create a database to use.

A side note on electronic ordering; if you have real-time inventory, you are not getting a real lost-sale report unless you allow the user the option to indicate that they would have bought the part if you had it in stock. Basing these reports on lookups is not real. I might just be researching parts that cross several years for an older model or a hot rod in the shop only really intending to buy one of the 20 or so items I looked up.

I think most of the repair industry gets that there may be more part numbers than people on the planet. You can’t have everything all the time. What you can do is provide useful communication that let’s us know if and when you can help us in a timely manner. Perfect that and you will be my go-to guy.