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‘Bored’ With Your Job?


6/16/2008

How can you be bored when there is ALWAYS a challenge of the hour? Here’s my take on just some of the challenges we face every day.
 

While reading the Philadelphia Inquirer recently, I spotted a short take on employees being bored with their job. I can presume these people did not work as a counterpro. Edgy, maybe. Bored, never. My crew actually laughs during their time on the counter — even when I am standing beside them.

We keep a supply of rolled up aluminum foil balls (from our brownbagged lunch) that make good items to toss at each other when we get a little too serious. Yes, I have been hit more than once. It is not always fun and games. This is a still a people business. I know, I know, I am out of touch with reality. Everyone wants to order parts online and only talk to a live human being when there appears to be a problem. Really? Our customers want to order from our counterpros. Why? My tech customers make money by fixing cars and helping people, not purchasing parts.

Our counterpros make money selling the right part to the right customer. Sound simple? What tech wants to scroll through three pages of an online catalog to choose the “right” brake pads for the vehicle on his lift? What tech wants to “guess” at a confusing listing? What tech wants to admit he/she neglected to order the wheel seal with the bearing, the bypass hose with the water pump or the fuel filter with the fuel pump? A counterpro anticipates these additional parts the tech will need to finish the job, either suggesting them to the tech or being brave, and just sending the needed parts. So how can you be bored when there is ALWAYS a challenge of the hour? Challenge? Here’s just a short list of the daily challenges we face:

•Wrong part — counterpro looked up wrong

•Wrong part — tech ordered wrong one

•Wrong part — cataloged wrong

•Wrong part — boxed wrong

•Wrong part — “redesigned,” will not fit

•Wrong part — dealer price is $25, your store is $55

•Wrong part — tech thought he ordered a water pump, you sent a fuel pump; but no one is really sure; everyone tries again

•No part — part number, no inventory at five BIG warehouses

•No part — vehicle 5 years old, yet “no listing” for what you are searching for

•No part — it was in stock yesterday, quoted tech customer, sold yesterday to an other customer, now first customer expects part to still be in stock and delivered in 10 minutes, but now is on national backorder.

•Impossible part — you or your machine shop modified or built something to get the car off the customers’ lift, like brake, fuel, air conditioning or power steering lines. Or you picked up an old part from your customer, and physically matched it to something in stock. Exciting stuff.

•No electronic catalog — get tune-up parts for a ‘65 Mustang. Just like in days of olde — with paper catalogues. (We really used to do things that way?)

•No catalog — help a tech customer get a motor mount to install a small block Chevy in a Rolls-Royce (really happened last week)

•No catalog — find a brake line with that fitting made of unobtanium

Practicing medicine without a license — be the counterpro psychologist, while the customer rants about a part/customer/car/delivery time/price/boss/wife/husband/

local sports team or weather, you just listen, which solves most of the problems

•Marketing without an MBA — administrating and promoting all the promos that the factories, buying group, and store are trying to run at the same time. (Hey, I got my rotors, but YOU forgot my lottery ticket.)

•High-wire act with no net — taking care of a customer, ignoring “policy”

•Sales consultant without a briefcase — recommending any and everything from air freshener flavors to Zoom gears

•Three-letter Scrabble Game — any three letters picked can now represent a sensor, computer, solenoid or active system on today’s vehicle. How many do you know?

•Pickup truck bake-off — the manufacturers pride themselves by being able to market new and old body styles in the same time frame. In 2004 Ford was able to sell old and new pickups, the old style being called “Heritage.” In 2007 GM has old and new — the old being dubbed with GM’s infamous “classic.” When these trucks are 10 years old no one can identify the old from the new body style. So every Counterpro develops his or her own cheat sheet. I know we all know the vent window/no vent window from the 2000 GM trucks with two different 2500 series pick-ups.

No questions asked, wrong guess — you know the day you ASSUMED that the Caravan or Tempo was not AWD, that the 1995 Camry with California emissions had not found its way to New Jersey or the F150 really did not have seven bolt rotors. Yes, we have all found the rarest of vehicles in our customers’ bays. And we are embarrassed for ASSUMING that we could send the correct part with out asking for additional information. Toast, again.

Where is the part? Drivers want to start at $25.88 an hour, drive a new Lexus with self-parking and have every other day off—unless the sun is shinning. No one works when the sun is shining. Bored, no way. Overloaded, maybe. But that is why we show up every day. Counterpros are problem solvers. We have no time for being bored.

  Previous Comments
avatar   Will   star   2/22/2010   1:35 PM

No Kim, He meant Qualude all right! It's those people that have no clue or are drunk or whatever that crack me up. Ford pickup--what size? It's a V8--which one? It will never end and I keep thinking "Thank God he's not working on my vehicle"! When did 8am became "Beer o'clock"? OH THE HUMANITY



avatar   kim   star   2/11/2010   3:55 PM

my favorite:wife on phone asking for parts for Honda. I ask what kind of Honda...drunk husband background yelling "Qualude" poor woman was so embrassed! Asked her if he meant Prelude...she said yea I think so...



avatar   Will   star   2/4/2010   10:26 AM

Ever had the guy tell you he doesn't know if it's 4x4 because the truck's in Mexico? Then ask how much the part weighs so he can send it by UPS or USPS. I had a guy ask me to install a part once. Told him I'd install it on the front seat for free...He called Customer Service and complained.....



avatar   jordan   star   1/30/2010   8:32 PM

i love it when people come in to ask for a can of A I R or best one i had was when this guy wanted to rebuild his gucci valve. or the customers come in looking for a flux capaciter because there friends wanted a new one



avatar   Don   star   1/19/2010   2:35 PM

How about this one: the customer knows what he wants but does not know what it"s called(that one thingy). Also he does not know year, make, model,or engine size. Dont ask if he was present when he bought car, makes them real mad,(happened to me). I love my job, its the crazies I dont like.



avatar   Randy   star   1/12/2010   6:29 PM

the younger guys with hondas are the best



avatar   Will   star   12/28/2009   9:26 AM

Ever had the guy ask for a "Can of Compression"? You hear all kinds of dumb questions. Cadillac converter? Got 3 on the shelf. 1983 Corvette parts, SURE. "I bought 3 last year, what you mean you don't list anything"? "I'll talk to the other parts guy, he found it last time". Radiator for the VW Beetle(my favorite). Chevy made a 302 in the late 60's not 75 sir. Well it's a convertible. does that help? IT NEVER ENDS, that's why I love this job!!!



avatar   ReubenB   star   12/27/2009   12:13 PM

Great stuff!



avatar   Dave Elliott   star   12/11/2009   12:12 PM

AMEN!



avatar   TORY MCNEELY (791)   star   10/30/2009   3:30 PM

HAD A GIRL COME IN AND ASK ME TO COME CHECK OUT COOLANT LEAK IN 68 VOLKSWAGON. SHE WAS SURE IN WAS OVER HEATING.



avatar   MIKE W.   star   10/23/2009   2:04 PM

An empty gallon paint can with a few nuts and bolts, tossed in handgrenade style will always break up the silence.



avatar   evan   star   10/14/2009   12:32 PM

how about the drunk guy who makes his wife call in. then yells "well chevy only put 350 into REAL pickup trucks"when you ask if his chevy has a 350 or a 305.



avatar   Paul   star   9/3/2009   5:27 PM

How about: What kind of car is this for? It's Blue. Or girlfriends and less than knowledgeable friends sent in for blinker fluid.



avatar   Max   star   7/12/2009   10:52 PM

Steve got it right. As someone who works with both installer and retail customers, I've seen both sides of this. And it's all correct. Just try to find piston rings for an '88 RX-7. (seriously happened)



avatar   Amel R   star   7/9/2009   9:07 PM

This is so true...



avatar   Steve Abrams   star   6/26/2009   3:05 PM

While it's true that this article seems to be aimed at the jobber stores it certainly applies to the retail side as well. The professional customer may be more demanding, but they never ask you to diagnose a vehicle by giving you the symptoms, and if you ask them what size of engine the vehicle has they would never say "Aren't you supposed to know that". They are many other challenges presented by the customer who has no idea what they need to do the job they are attempting.



avatar   Brad T.   star   5/26/2009   5:04 PM

It seems that this article was directed to all of the installer salesmen, so the retail specialists just wouldn't understand!! Shops have a much higher expectation of their parts pros and also have more puzzling problems. Therefor we are NEVER BORED!!!!



avatar   CORY G.   star   5/20/2009   7:58 PM

WE NEED MORE OF THESE! ILL JU8T SLEEP IN THE OFFICE.



avatar   Aaron b   star   5/12/2009   4:34 PM

Cool this is true we all ways have fun at my store just kiding a round.



avatar   KALIN   star   3/22/2009   10:40 AM

I READ THIS ALSO WHILE BORED AT WORK PULLING AN OPEN TO CLOSE ON A SUNDAY



avatar   Bill   star   3/18/2009   9:00 PM

Lee, Try reading the first paragraph, it should all come together after that!



avatar   LEE   star   3/16/2009   12:22 PM

WHAT DOES BEING BORED WITH YOUR JOB HAVE TO DO WITH DEALING WITH WRONG PARTS AND DUMB PEOPLE?



avatar   Cayson   star   3/10/2009   3:12 PM

Bravo Mike, This was an excellent article! I'm glad to see that other counterman have been sent to find magical brake fittings and an EGAFS sensor, (customer abbreviation for Oxygen Sensor, no joke) for the customers AWD Pontiac 6000!



avatar   JIM   star   3/5/2009   3:58 PM

MY CHALLENGE EVERYDAY IS KNOWING WEATHER OR NOT I WILL HAVE A DELIVERY DRIVER TO DELIVER PARTS TO REPAIR SHOPS BECAUSE PAYROLL IS CUT TOO THIN.



avatar   ryan   star   2/23/2009   12:01 PM

i think he means vent style rear windows



avatar   Sean   star   2/7/2009   12:47 PM

Hmmmm...........never seen a vent window on a GM pick-up after 1991. I think the year span should have been 1988-1991 with the two different 3/4 ton pick-ups,being differentiated by the vent window. The 99-01 3/4 tons are differentiated by engine size.



avatar   mike   star   2/2/2009   10:08 PM

i read this while i was bored at work



avatar   not enough time to think up this   star   1/15/2009   5:46 PM

This guy has to much time on his hands!!!

















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