Article > Opinion

Hello... Is Anybody Home?

By Mitch Schneider

Five o’clock is closing time for most businesses. So, when a phone call is made to a business at 4:45 someone should answer, right? Apparently not in today’s world.
Mitch Schneider

You may not have noticed this, but most ‘good’ technicians are a bit high-strung. I know that might come as a surprise to some of you, but it’s true. They are!

It could have something to do with the constant anxiety of fighting the clock or the very physical and demanding nature of the work itself, but whatever the cause, the vast majority of really good technicians I’ve known over the years has been at least a couple of degrees off the bubble. I know I am.

It comes from years of scars and sacrifice, discipline and determination, all under the most difficult and demanding circumstances. We can be hypocritical at times as well. It’s to be expected. We’re trained to focus on what’s wrong with the vehicle while disregarding all that is right — it’s what we do. So, it should come as no surprise that we tend to poke and pick at all the things you do to make us even nuttier than we already are. What I don’t understand is why you work so hard to make us feel crazy.

Case in point, we ordered the inner and outer tie rod ends, upper control arm bushings, sway bar bushings and links for a 1994, big-block, two-wheel drive Suburban earlier this afternoon. That might lead you to believe this column is all about the parts. But, it’s not — at least not entirely. This column is about service and as I’ve suggested in the past, your long term success is, or should be, all about service. Why? Because I can get parts anywhere and from just about anyone.
The parts arrived and the inner tie rod ends were wrong. That happens. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s yours. Sometimes it’s no one’s fault at all. This time the fact they were wrong didn’t really matter past the point that they needed to be replaced. What mattered was the response my technician received when he called to see what he could do to get the right parts delivered before we closed this evening.

Admittedly, it was late, almost a quarter to five and the company we ordered the parts from — our “First Call” — closes at 5:00, but their satellite facility is only a few minutes away. And, well, we honestly thought that since the parts were wrong and this time it wasn’t our fault, someone would find a way to exchange the right parts for the wrong ones. Instead, we heard: “No, we can’t,” “There isn’t anyone there,” and, “I can’t give you their phone number. I don’t have it.”

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “I may not be a smart man, but I do know what five o’clock is!” And, so do my technicians. If you close at 5:00, you close at 5:00 — not 4:45. Not 4:50. Not 4:55 — 5:00! And, please don’t tell me there is no one there. There may not be anyone there at 5:05, but there damn well better be someone there at 4:59.

If there isn’t anyone home, either with regard to meeting or exceeding our service needs or perhaps even with regard to a body in the building, you might think about re-evaluating what you do and who you do it for. Like I said, most of us are a bit high-strung and there’s no telling how we might react or who we might call the next time we call you and nobody’s home.

  Previous Comments
avatar   tiny   star   2/19/2010   6:25 PM

well, here is a topic about which I feel quite strongly. Let's break this down from a man to man across the counter relationship. In so many cases, A customer will call to quote a part or a job, ask for the closing time only to show up at fifteen minutes before close, no matter what time that may be. Now, i understand getting off work at five and making a mad dash for a store closing at five thirty, but if you're off at five, store closes at nine, and you smell a little like beer, I have no sympathy for you or your plight.

If you are an installer, the landscape does change a bit. however, if you call after all the installer side of the store is closed down for the night, you are at the mercy of the two guys left closing, no matter who's fault the error was in the first place. those, as they say, are the breaks.

personally, I will be happy to gar as far as i can to assist, especially if the error is my own, but at a certain point, my hands are tied. for example, I can not close the store or leave it undermanned to deliver a part. but, I can work with you on price, due to the error being mine.

having said that, there is certainly a more diplomatic way of dealing with this situation rather than simply saying, "no, sorry they are all gone and there's nothing I can do for you." those remaining counter people should offer every bit of assistance they can short of having to leave the store. they can offer an additional 10% off for the trouble of having to come get the part, they can offer some sort of other deal to show the installer that though it's after his business hours, we can try our best to accommodate, within the parameters of our establishment. Unfortunately, there are some things we simply can not do.

AS for the tipsy fella that rolls in at five minutes to close, Well, he'll just have to stop in tomorrow just before he gets to beer thirty, dig?

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