Article > Opinion

Change Partners? I Didn't Think So!

By Mitch Schneider

The parts store-repair shop dance can be an elegant one — and when the steps are right, it can be downright graceful.
Mitch Schneider

On the outside chance you may not have noticed, you and I share a very peculiar relationship.
It is symbiotic in that we really can’t live without each other and yet what we do couldn’t be more different. It is synergistic. Or, at least it can be when our efforts blend together perfectly and the right part gets to the right place at the right time and at the right price and what we accomplish together exceeds whatever we could have accomplished individually. It can even spiral downward into a dysfunctional kind of co-dependency when things slowly go to hell and a relationship deteriorates, but continues regardless.

Most of the time things just work. The intricate choreography of vehicle inspection, ordering, fulfillment and delivery results in an elegant ballet of execution and operations, a magnificent waltz in which everyone has their chance on the floor.

When things work, and they do most of the time, it is because whoever has the lead at that particular moment seems to know what they are doing. Sometimes it’s you. Sometimes it’s us. However, with the lead comes responsibility: the responsibility to guide both partners to wherever they need to be on the floor. When that happens, it’s a joy to behold.

When it doesn’t, when no one takes the lead, it is disconnected, unbalanced and unpleasant. However, as ugly as it might be to witness, it’s far worse when you find yourself alone out there on the floor. That’s why, despite what you may think, the majority of us really do appreciate what it is you do for us and the artful way in which you do it.

If my undercar supplier could dance, they’d be on Dancing with the Stars. That’s how good they are! No matter how bizarre or difficult the request, they get the job done. With the mix of vehicles we work on the requests can get pretty strange: everything from front brake hoses on a 1970 Mercedes 280 SL to riding height on 2005 Toyota Solara. It doesn’t matter — they take the lead with a graceful confidence and elegance that is really hard to duplicate.

When we make mistakes — and from time to time we do — they are accommodating and gracious. When they make mistakes — and from time to time they do — we try very hard to respond in kind.
Today they were exceptional, even for them! It started with the front brake hoses on that 1970 Mercedes I mentioned a moment ago, and continued with a request for riding height and measuring points for the Solara. It was late and our technical literature didn’t have what we needed. Anyone else would have tried to pass that information through by phone or fax, but the guy on the counter didn’t think either would work especially well, so he put the book in a truck and sent it over…very late in the evening.

The hoses for the Mercedes weren’t so easy. The first pass resulted in hoses that were too short. It turned out the look-up was wrong, which precluded any chance of getting the right part delivered. Someone else might have said the hell with it; they didn’t! They stayed with it until we had the right look-up. And, while the wrong hoses went back with one driver, the right hoses were on their way with another.

When you find a partner like that no one wants to quit. No one wants to experiment. You depend on each other. You can sense what your partner is going to do and know it will be the right move, for both of you. You know you’d have to be crazy to change partners and learn a whole new set of moves, moves you might not like as well with a partner you might not feel as comfortable with.
And, if someone tried to cut in on a relationship like that, would you let them? Would you take the chance? Would you change partners? I didn’t think so!

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