|02-22-2013 11:32 PM|
I called my favorite parts jobber today. They answered the phone the usual way and I asked about longer tie rod for a rack and pinion set up I'm using....I didn't say who I was. I gave him the information on the rack, told him the length of the tie rod I needed and any spec's that might help him. Without any fluctuation or hesitation in the counter persons voice, his comment was, "Ray, that's gonna take a bit of time, I need to match parts up, what about the sleeve, do I have any leeway there". I told him how much leeway he had and he asked me if he could have about an hour on it. Because of this thread, I timed him...27 minutes later he called me back with 2 options that would work, prices, availability and Brands.
This is what I appreciate from not only my jobber, but the counter person as well. I called the manager back after I gave the parts person the order and thanked him for having staff like the man I talked to about my needs...he recognised my voice, was willing to look for something not readily available on his computer, asked if it was OK to take an hour, and called me back well within the agreed upon time frame. I asked the manager to pass my thank you onto the counter person...it just means more to the employee if a customer takes the time to call the manager and thank him...these guys get to many of the opposite calls for poor reasons. In my opinion this is the difference between somebody handing me a bag of parts and a guy that took the initiative to be able to hand me a bag of parts knowing that he had gone up and above what usually would be asked of a counter person.
To me that's value.
|02-21-2013 05:18 PM|
Sure thing, PM's are welcome.
I also have a fairly extensive collection of PDF catalogs that I have uploaded to Skydrive.
The link is "read-only"
|02-21-2013 04:59 PM|
I had a shop order a brake light switch and I asked him if it had cruise control and he almost exploded "WHAT THE F DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH A LIGHT SWITCH?" I calmly asked him, "What turns off the cruise when you step on the brake?" Duh duh duh yeah genius. Then you get the "I want a oil filter for a small block Chevy", "What is it in?" THEY ARE ALL THE SAME, I would explain that there are different oned and I just want to make sure I get you what you need and ask "Is it in a 4 wheel drive truck"? and have the guy get all Ped off "IT'S A SMALL BLOCK DUMMY".
It was amazing how rude they were to the parts guy like he is a blithering moron. You aren't asking these questions for fun. You know the parts people I deal with now are my pal, they have told my boss they love when I call them because I treat them as the equals they are, and they tell me things that happen to them at other shops that is mind blowing. How about one of the companies started asking for your name to be printed on the invoice next to your signature. The delivery guy said when I simply printed my name upon his request that I was the only one to do that, some refused to even do it! Amazing stuff, you just can't make up what real people do, well sort of real people.
|02-21-2013 04:40 PM|
What I loved about the time that I was employed by UAP/NAPA/Fort Ignition (my first few paychecks where still under the Fort Ignition umbrella) was that Fort Ignition carried everything for cars from 1920 to 1996 especially electrical and tune up parts. The location that I worked at was considered a warehouse and we stocked so many parts it was incredible. That location had a service center, electrical rebuild shop (alternators and even radios) and a machine shop with real good people. I learned a lot from those people and I was in heaven, doing my own head work, boring etc., but that wasn't NAPA's shtick and over a couple of years all those people where gone and it became parts only. I'm so glad that I had the benefit of being able to learn from the guys in the back with respect to machining.
Yes they moved all the paint into the C-Max division and rightfully so. It's a whole different kettle of fish than hard parts. I'm not sure what the're doing in the US but C-Max is alive and well in Canada.
Good advice on downloading the catalogs...when the're gone, they will be gone.
I may PM you some time (if that's OK) and see if we know some of the same people, I still stay in touch with a few of them and had several visits here in Ontario from some of the Calgary staff you may know.
|02-21-2013 04:10 PM|
Yup, I do remember Fort Ignition being bought up.
I'm pretty sure it was around the time that UAP and NAPA merged and became UAP/NAPA in Canada.
That merger resulted in just a bit of a "Gong Show" IMO.
(Let's be polite and call it "growing pains")
The parent company in Canada is still UAP Inc, but they seem to be slowly assimilating back to the GPC (Guaranteed Parts) method of doing business. Being that I was an original NAPA guy ... that was good news.
Paint is a whole 'nother level of PITA, with the change to low VOC. I'm really glad that NAPA split that off to the CMAX division. We basically stock body filler and gun wash now ... and that's about it.
My advice to everyone reading this is to find, download, and save as many PDF catalogs as you can get your hands on as they are the last link to the old paper catalogs in many cases. Many mfrs have gone completely electronic, and some have converted to Adobe Flash format, which is not MY preferred method of doing look-ups. You can print individual or a small number of pages at a time. I cheat a bit, by printing them to a series of PDF files, then re-combine them using the full version of Adobe Acrobat. (expensive program to buy) An alternative to this is to use Able2Extract Pro to convert each PDF to a Word document, and then manually copy/paste the pages in. This method would entail a lot of work to re-assemble a 500 page catalog.
|02-21-2013 03:03 PM|
If I can add to the possibility of a customer's attitude determining the price they pay....I seem to remember a button on the computer that would allow the counter person to charge what the market would bare....just like you don't want to piss off the waiter or he'll spit in your food, you wanna be respectful to the guy trying to help you get the right parts.
|02-21-2013 02:25 PM|
be kind/respectfull and say thank you, and be a return customer, and you'll get a break on the bigger cost items if he can..
it's rumored to help build a long term relationship.. and word of mouth..
some need to remember, unless you have a part # already, the counter help can't just type in chevy v8 long water pump..
also, back in the day.. autoparts stocked big 3 parts and then you had the import part store..
so the parts guy only needed to remember 1/20th of the part # out there today..
tons of cars/trucks used the same parts for years if not decades.. thats not the case anymore..
think about that.. 1955-2002 the small block was basicly the same..
since 96 the ls family has changed 5 times,
only ford was an interchange nightmare years ago..
how many different engines used the same spark plug, oil filter, fuel filter..etc..
now almost nothing interchanges..
the lowly colbalt came with 5 lugs, but there are a few with 4 lug wheels.. if you don't have the month of the build or vin.. you might get the wrong part..
it's silly how many different front rotors a basic f-250 can have today.. before it was two wheel drive or 4 maybe tow/plow package..
today some models have 8 different front rotors depending on late or early build (same year) 2wd /4wd 4wd h/d etc etc etc..
the running changes are crazy today.. god help these owners that keep the vehicle any lenth of time..
|02-21-2013 01:56 PM|
Bob...that's the relationship I'm talking about...if more people worked at building those relationships with the people that they work with and for...the work place becomes fun and who knows, life long friendships can be formed...It worked for me.
66GMC...You are in the front lines when it comes to dealing with the public...You and I may have more in common than you might realize...In 1996 I was going to try semi retired life...well that lasted 3 months and I got frustrated, bored and found out I missed dealing with people...I got a job at NAPA as a "Paint Rep"...(This was during the time that NAPA Canada was buying up competition to gain market share, does "Fort Ignition" ring a bell from the mid 90's on the Canadian Prairie's). The problem was that they didn't have paint and I was asked if I could work on the counter as a parts person and help organize their fledgling paint department with respect to what product was required and to set up inventory levels. I spent about 6 months on the parts counter. They had computer systems in place for hard parts but so often I used the books, many times, not for me but, if I could ask the customer does your part look like this or like that, I got them the right part.
Yes, I too would sooner work with an individual that asked what some may consider stupid questions than the guy that doesn't...(I hated having to return parts...it always took 3 times as long to give somebody a refund as it did to sell the damn part in the first place).
You made a comment about "Some of you have an appreciation of the value in establishing a good "working relationship" with your counter people. IMO ... "Respect is a 2-way street." and that customers that display respect and patience generally get better service than the impatient "know-it-alls"." Truer words couldn't have been spoken...The guy that everybody new as a customer that was respectful, patient and an all around good guy did get better service and treatment. On the other side of the coin now...today I want to be that guy.
And if I may...I'd like to confirm the rumor of the leeway that countermen may have when quoting prices...so always remember, the way you treat a counterman may have a direct relationship to the bottom line on your invoice.
|02-21-2013 09:45 AM|
I've been doing "the parts thing" for a lot of years, for various dealerships and parts stores.
14 years total as a Ford partsman, with the remainder of the 36 years (OMG ... 36 years now?) working in the jobber parts store environment. (Mostly, and presently, with NAPA) I have been a licensed partsman since 1983 as it is a recognized trade here in Alberta.
The thing is ... that a lot has changed, and yet a lot has remained the same throughout the entire time.
I don't claim to "know everything" and never have. There is something new to be learned each and every day ... it's one thing that I love about this job.
Frustration is no stranger, either, as it's simply impossible to please or impress everyone.
Computers vs Paper catalogs:
Yep, computers are not perfect ... but they're a tool that I wouldn't want to be without.
"Fred" (F.R.E.D.) has a much better memory than I do, and is also better at math. "Fred" and I became friends in about 1978, and I knew he was here to stay ... especially a decade later when electronic invoicing evolved.
Yes, I still reach for the paper catalogs when it comes to looking up things like universal joints, exhaust parts and steering linkage, etc, because having a diagram and all PERTINENT choices in front of you really helps to avoid the "mental clutter" you'll find on a computer screen.
U-Joints in particular ... OMG!
You can have up to 100 part numbers to choose from on the screen (with all of the individual loacations, repeats, and "good, better, best" product offerings) wheras the catalog readily tells you that u-joints in position #4,5,6 (2-pc rear shaft) are all the same part number (but not always). Greasable or non-greasable? Done.
We're a very small store, and have just hired a young guy, (just out of high school), whose primary job is delivery driver.
Customers don't really seem to understand why he asks the questions he does when looking up a part. The answer is: "Because the computer is asking him." He's doing his best to get you the right part and doesn't have the benefit (?) of an "educated guess" ... so he's going to confirm EVERYTHING.
Trust me ... I have worked with a lot of guys that "do their own thinking" or are afraid to ask "stupid questions" ... and it doesn't always end well.
The best thing (for those reading here at a hot-rod site)to keep in mind is that NOBODY knows your vehicle better than you do, nor should you expect a counterman to know every minute detail about your ride.
No he doesn't know that a "05 Duramax" means that the vehicle is in reality a 2005 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4x4 with a 6.6L diesel engine.
Some of you have an appreciation of the value in establishing a good "working relationship" with your counter people.
IMO ... "Respect is a 2-way street." and that customers that display respect and patience generally get better service than the impatient "know-it-alls".
Let's consider the "Customer arrives 10 minutes after the posted closing time" scenario. I'm counting the cash, making the deposit, and getting ready to do "End of Day" on the computer. The computer is still "UP" and I can still use the electronic catalog and invoicing. I hear a knock on the door, and look up to see a guy with his hands cupped over his eyes so he can peer into the darkened interior. He knows I'm closed, and *should* know that I have a life and commitments waiting for me. "Hmmmm ... wasn't this the guy that got rude, said I was gouging him ... that he would just buy those rotors on-line just a couple of days ago? Hmmmm. Just try getting those grease seals and bearing packer "after-hours" at "Rock Otto"
PS ... there is also a rumor that most counterman are allowed a little bit of discretion in regards to prices quoted to customers. Prices which may or may not be influenced by how much he (or she) likes you.
I'm just sayin' ... LOL
|02-21-2013 08:22 AM|
|sedanbob||I totally understand wanting a personal connection with the people/businesses you deal with. I'm retired now, but used to design computer systems for Army logistics. When we were working on new systems, or upgrades to existing systems, we went to the end users of those systems to find out what works for them, and what doesn't (Army senior leadership didn't have a clue). When your customer is the Army, it's easy to forget that it's still people - individuals. Once those people talked to us, and got to know us, they became friends and were enthusiastic partners in designing those systems. We learned so much more that we would have otherwise. When one project was handed over to a contractor in the middle of the project, the people we had been working with demanded that we still be involved! When you are half a world away and can't get the system to give you the parts/material you need, nothing is better than a friend who knows that system inside and out. And the people in our office took a personal interest in making sure those systems worked as well as possible - our friends were counting on them.|
|02-21-2013 01:09 AM|
I understand what your saying and respect needs to be given on booth sides of the counter. The customers your talking about are idiots in the true sense of the word...they don't know that they don't know. The most dangerous kind.
Many years ago I when I was 18 years old I was a mechanic at a local GM dealership, the parts department was busy and short staffed, I was waiting on parts so I thought I'd go and help out (common back in the day and it was a small dealership). A customer asked me for points, condenser and rotor for his 1974 Impala, I asked if the points and condenser where one piece or if the condenser was screwed to the plate on the distributor. The customer got upset and told me that when I was finished washing the floors in the shop maybe I could wash his car and he wasn't going to buy parts from a kid that didn't have a clue what he needed. I looked at him, smiled and walked away. Then he asked the parts manager if we had time to install the parts and do a tune up on his car. The parts manager turned to me and asked I if had time for a tune up on a 74 Impala. I smiled at the customer and told the parts Manager that I was waiting for wheel cylinders on the car I was working on and absolutely I had time to tune up the car, I turned to the customer and asked if he'd like his car washed as well.
I believe there needs to be more respect, on booth sides of the counter. If I see a younger person at a parts counter, I don't judge him because of his age. I will however look at the persons willingness to assist a customer to get what the customer wants or needs. How well the person listens, and if he doesn't know the answer, his diligence in doing what he can to get an answer. The person I want is the person who cares enough to learn when he doesn't know and truly has the customer's best interest at heart.
|02-21-2013 12:10 AM|
the ALL.(well almost) forget they where not BORN with automotive knowlege.. they learned it over the years.. but somehow thing that 18y/o making min wage should know what they are looking for.. like it's knowlege they should be born with...!!
after they treat the newbe like dirt I go over to help the customer and have a ball.. just the other day I helped a know it all.. after he belittled the kid.. he wanted tune up parts for a 307. I asked what make.. he snapped just get parts for a 3o7... after looking out and not see'n an olds in the lot I got him tune up parts for a 307
he came back oh 90 minutes later and said I gave him the wrong parts..
I said back up. I asked you what make.. you blasted "just give me parts for a 307" well all those parts fit a chevy 307 v8
he barks but I have an olds, I said sir thats why we ask make!!!!!!!!!!
Another time a guy came in wanting a chevy long waterpump.. I asked him(interupting the other counter girl) if it was for his vette in lot..
yes it was, I said you'll want a short pump.. and went to go grab one.. to him yelling, I know what the f I need ,get me a long pump..
OK sir.. here ya go.. have a great day..
he returned 10 minutes after we closed, but I walked into supermarket to get whatever wife wanted me to pick up. and was headed to my car..
he's like , this pump is wrong.. I said no kidding.. well you sold me the wrong one.. I said no I didn't !!!!!!!!!!! I tried to sell you the correct one.. but what do I know.. he says well I need the "other" type..
I said fine comeback tomorrow am and it'll be waiting for you..
he was pissed, I said sorry the manager lives in milton(35miles away) and mostlikely is half way home.. I don't have keys..
car guys are the most arrogant bas tards to deal with , as they automaticly think parts guys are STUPID..
again not all.. but way to many..
|02-20-2013 11:52 PM|
Again, I want that personal relationship with my parts supplier, my gas station attendant, my Pharmacist..I just want to be treated with respect wherever I spend the money I worked hard for. I think we all deserve that. It's the times I call a service provider (and I know the larger the company the more difficult it seems to offer service with respect) like my cable, home phone, cell phone and internet provider, I am quickly running out of patience with the way they treat you from the non answering of phones when you call them with a problem, to how they respond to a problem. I've had a problem with my telephone land line lately and my service provider actually told me that they where to busy to look after me for the next few days because they where to busy with new customer installations in my area but would send someone 7 working days later between 1PM and 7PM and I should make sure someone was at my residence to let the technician in. Also, there would be a $75 service charge that would be added to my bill plus any additional equipment I might need. They own the equipment! To get this service appointment I spoke to 3 different people and was put on hold 4 different times, the total call took over 45 minutes, from my neighbors phone no less.
I know that this isn't an automotive supplier but, I'm sure that there are horror story's out there regarding them...I know I've lived a few.
|02-20-2013 11:27 PM|
I guess what I'm looking for when buying parts is to be treated with respect, I want that personal relationship with the guy behind the counter if I require delivery or if I pick up the parts myself. For me, it's that personal touch that assures me that I'm getting service, I know quality and I know prices. I want my parts supplier to treat me the way I treat my customers. I feel that when a jobber gets to know what their customers want, do what it takes to set them apart from the competition by offering knowledgeable friendly service, they will succeed and price, although important often becomes secondary when purchasing.
|02-20-2013 09:44 PM|
and 2 non chain. total and alied
all have shop accounts.. and advanced has a counter just for them. with people that are more than just clerks earning a paycheck..
that said.. yes 90% of the foot traffic is diy and 75% of those have no clue..
shops don't walk into the store.. they call or place order online to be delivered.. sign for it and thats that..
10% of the gross foot trafic will be us car guys or the techs working on side work at home..
I'd say 50% of the sales are brakes and DIY that refuse to pay 500+ for a shop to replace rotors and pads..
remember shops & techs don't set foot in the autoparts store 99% of the time, we go to them..
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