The value of being an automotive aftermarket resource

Jan. 1, 2020
Consider empowering counter employees by stretching their duties and becoming a resource for sublet operations or specialty suppliers that are outside the scope of your normal business.

When you sit in the chair I do there is a hat rack right next to you because of the need to change them all the time. Sometimes knowing which hat gets the job done is a challenge.

Sitting in front of me now is a work order for a supercharged 2002 Chevy Tahoe that has a blown out header gasket, a 1968 Thunderbird that needs an exhaust system and a late model Jeep with a PCM that’s no longer available.

Because I work on cars from the 1940s to the early 1970s and then from the mid 1990s to current, my vendor list is huge. Much of that vendor list is due to my research in finding vendors who sell parts for Studebaker Avantis for example.

Many of my vendors are the result of an introduction from one of my main vendors.

One day I needed a water pump for a 1971 Coronet with a 440 and could not find one through any of my traditional suppliers. I called my main supplier to see if they had any ideas. One of their counter guys suggested a company here in Denver that rebuilds water pumps. I got it taken care of.  They even offered to take it to the sublet vendor and return it to me.  It worked out that I did not need that service but that is the reason that they are my first call. Not because they are big or have every part every time or give me the best deal. It is just because they provide that extra service.

Let’s face it, the employee could simply have taken my call as so many do and said, “We don’t have that.” and moved on. It probably would not have affected our relationship negatively. The approach he took was to take a couple minutes of his time to look up the information on a supplier he was aware of and give it to me.  This had a positive affect on our relationship. Call it a Karma savings account for when I am in their portal and they do not have something I think they should.

Supplier/buyer relationships are much like that game we played when we were kids; “Break the Camels Back” where you add or subtract sticks to keep the camel upright. Constant returns or ASAP orders tend to annoy the supplier and the inability to source parts quickly will cause service advisors or parts people to look elsewhere. Suppliers often go to superhuman efforts to bring programs that are intended to improve relationships, often at rather high costs and low ROI to them.

Give some thought to empowering counter employees to stretching their duties a little more and becoming a resource for certain sublet operations or specialty suppliers that are just outside the scope of your normal day-to-day business. Many of you already do this but do your customers know? This is a grass roots kind of program rather than a national one so your ability to measure it might take some creativity, but from my perspective it is far more valuable than a benefit program I can probably source in several different places or a hot dog on customer appreciation day.

The aftermarket automotive repair industry should be recognized as the modern miracle that it is. We diagnose, repair and maintain products that have at least 13 different systems requiring a huge number of skills in each discipline and in most cases, do it in a day. Try getting any other high tech service industry to move that fast and service the number of customers we do each year. If I forgot to say it this week, Thanks for all you do.

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