Article > Business Operations

Your Job Has Changed? Or Has It?



By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, our Manhattan (NYC) store manager Anthony “Slim” Stech always enjoyed selling walk-in customers tail light bulbs.

After the customer explained what they needed, Slim would put a 1034 bulb in his left hand and an 1157 bulb in his right hand. Slim told the customer he could sell them the HD bulb for X amount. He would then hand the customer that bulb. He’d do the same with the extra HD bulb that was in his right, telling the customer he could sell it for XX amount. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the customer would purchase the extra HD bulb at the higher price. Slim’s success was due to a simple explanation: he always told the customer they should expect to receive additional service life if they used the extra HD bulb. Slim’s simple marketing strategy increased sales dollars daily.

Today, the sales approach is known as good, better and best. Yes, we have high-tech tools and the Internet available to assist in making sales, but customers still like the see-me, feel-me, touch-me approach along with a knowledgeable explanation of the product high and low points.

It has always been a realization that most counterpros, when asked where the fuses are, tell the customer, “On the left at the end of aisle seven,” instead of actually seeing what the customer needs and walking with him or her to aisle seven and assisting with the selection.

Counter personnel need product knowledge to direct customer purchases. Anyone can sell a widget, but the person selling the product has to know what that widget does and how the widget will solve a customer’s problem as well as suggest additional items that may be necessary. Proper training by seasoned counter personnel on the store’s computer system, including company policies and procedures, needs to be supplemented with product training reinforced with manufacturer and supplying warehouse assistance.

We have all been in big box stores and seen the sloppy merchandising. And just try to find someone knowledgeable to assist you. Well, this is changing at this very moment. The big box stores realized the value of above and beyond customer service. Recently, we experienced big box store personnel who not only knew where the merchandise needed was located, but walked us over to the correct aisle and showed us the various choices while explaining the differences and values.

While it is absolutely mandatory that we keep up with modern technology, no matter what we do, it is always about the customer. Sometimes we forget or miss this with all of today’s responsibilities and computer-generated forms and reports.

Perhaps we should all step back and take a lesson from Slim; he seemed to have that simple knack of making sure that the customer knew what they were buying, what they should expect from the product and why they should pay us more than the store down the street.

These were real-life lessons which we both experienced and used over and over again during our careers.

Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop.
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