Article > Opinion

Do I Sound Frustrated?


If the goal is to be correct only 95 percent of the time, then we’re doing a good job. But that ‘95 percent feeling’ will get us in trouble and send customers away from doing business with us.

Heart of gold,

Hide of ‘gator,

Head of granite.

A true counter pro? Yes, you will not last long in the trenches without the above listed attributes. Why? If you are not equipped with the proper heart, hide and head, the day-to-day issues will get to you. Proper attitude? You do everything in your power to do the best work, deliver the best service and handle every problem — only to fail. Failure is a lost sale. How can this happen to the best of the best? What happens every day that interferes with providing the right part at the right time at the right price? The truth is, it’s not always your error that costs sales.

OK, Counter pro, explain this one to your professional technician customer: Price and availability for a lower hose on a 2001 Ford Focus, DOHC, code 3 engine. Current list prices from major manufacturers are $36.78, $31.87, $30.25, and $79.78. Yes, $79.78! If you have the salesmanship to explain this pricing disparity to your technician customer, you in no way belong behind the counter. How do you explain the difference?

We can’t explain the pricing differences of that magnitude. If we are carrying the line with the high price, we may lose some of the trust we have built in our professional technician customers. Do manufacturers check the prices of their competititors? Have there been no complaints from the field from customers, counter pros or field sales persons? Or did I just stumble on the only competitive price issue in the industry?

Still scratching your head? Try this one: A set of front pads for a 2005, C230 Mercedes. I’ll wait while you look it up. If your listing is not 1121, you are going to send the wrong pads. Five major manufacturers have listings that will make most Counterpros look bad.

Manufacturer 1. No listing (not wrong, but a no listing, no sale).

Manufacturer 2. Incorrect listing.

Manufacturer 3. Correct

Manufacturer 4. Incorrect, the 2006 listing has the correct numbers.

Manufacturer 5. Incorrect listing.

While there may be a whole lot of footnotes about “sport suspension,” it appears that every C230 uses the sport suspension pad. The proper 1121 pad solved the problem twice last week. Am I the first one to have this problem?

I think I’ll call my brake pad supplier to get an explanation. But while all this is going on, the professional technician is waiting for the correct parts to finish the job. How does it feel to send the wrong parts? How much profit do you make sending the wrong parts? How does your customer sound on the phone after the second delivery of the wrong parts? Are we enforcing the professional tech’s view that the aftermarket is only good at supplying 1994 Caprice parts?

Unfortunately, I place little hope in the 800 number on the back of the catalog that touts “technical assistance.” Of course, I get a recording. Stuff about high call volume. “Your wait will be 6 to 8 minutes,” which turns into 14 minutes and 59 seconds. The 15 minutes is filled with the world’s worst message, starting with, “We’re sorry….” Finally the tech answer person. I explain my wrong pad syndrome and that I need a pad that is near square in shape. ”We do not have those. That is for the sport suspension …” The quickness of the answer indicated that I was not the first person to call about the correct part issue. One thing I do know is very few professional service providers can afford the 15-minute downtime to get an answer from this tech line. Good intentions from the manufacturer, bad application.

Why should I care? Why should I get all wound up about a wrong listing or an uncompetitive price? Why should you care? Pride in our profession? A true desire to sell every part for every car? Or is it better to blow off the sale? It’s only a set of pads, it’s only a lower hose? Right? No, wrong! It’s the state of the industry, that 95 percent feeling. If 95 percent of the listings are correct, if 95 percent of the pricing is correct, if the professional technician is satisfied 95 percent of the time, then everything is going great.

Tomorrow the goal becomes 94 percent, because we are pushing 5 percent and more to other suppliers that have the right part with the right price. Like, maybe the car dealer?

Aftermarket manufacturers, what is the preferred way to communicate on these issues? Do you want to know? Is someone in your organization in charge of checking into these problems? Someone who is not always “away from my desk or on another line”…Or am I banging my granite head against the wall?

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