Article > Opinion

Parts Pros vs. The Internet

By Jon S. Owens

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. This year's PARTS Supplement proves there is no replacement for expert counter pros.

For the sixth year in a row the September issue of Counterman comes polybagged with our annual PARTS Supplement. And now, with so much data gathered over the years, we can really see some interesting trends developing across the automotive parts sourcing landscape. One piece of data that should catch your attention is the increasing frequency with which the OE Dealer is becoming a legitimate source for more and more parts. Something we all thought was taking place is actually proven by the trend line we see throughout the pages of this year’s supplement.

But, one other trend I noticed from this year’s data is the ever-increasing reliance technicians and shop owners have on parts stores that employ great sales/counter professionals. When we asked technicians why a particular source is their first call for a certain part, more and more often they now cite that it’s because of the knowledgeable (i.e., “best”) sales/counter staff.

This is quite an interesting trend, especially in today’s “information at your fingertips” world. I’ve heard many philosophies on how parts ordering/sourcing is “dramatically” changing. Yet, our data says just the opposite. There’s no denying that the deluge of information available to technicians, shop owners and even DIYers has been a phenomenon unto itself over the past few years. And, there is no end in sight to the amount of information that can be transmitted across the vast Internet landscape.

This is a wonderful thing, and is certainly conducive to helping automotive technicians become more effective and more efficient repair specialists. But that same deluge of knowledge and information can be compared to trying to get a small drink of water from a blasting fire hose. Simply, the information “highway” can be just overwhelming at times, and leaves many practitioners frustrated, exasperated and brain-tired.

Shop owners need productive bays. Productive bays need focused, energetic and competent technicians. Technicians may rely heavily on the Internet for valuable technical information that will help them complete an effective repair, but should they also be required to identify all of the parts needed to make that repair? Perhaps, and for sure, some do. But what then happens to bay productivity? At what point is searching for more information a hindrance to shop efficiency? That’s where you, the store/parts professional, come in. And, by the look of things, you’re being called upon more than ever before.

In a world of information overload, it appears you are being called upon to once again exert your knowledge and expertise by quickly and accurately identifying the exact parts needed for the most effective and efficient repairs. You are once again entrusted to “make the call” on what a shop needs to do the job right. More and more, shops are turning to you for advice, knowledge and accuracy. So, just when we thought everything was being lost to the all-mighty, all-powerful Internet, here we find proof that defiantly bucks the technology trend.

We at Counterman magazine always knew the value of parts pros like you, and now the data supports our cause. Congratulations on doing what you do, and helping to make this a better and more efficient industry for us all. More importantly, congratulations on earning the continued respect and continued business of your all-important professional technician customers. By the looks of the data, they need you now more than ever!

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