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Let Me Count the Ways


8/15/2006
By Mitch Schneider

In a profession where your accomplishments can be overshadowed by your shortcomings, the overwhelming majority of this industry still appreciates your hard work.
 
Mitch Schneider

It’s easy to focus on the negative when that’s what you’ve been trained to do, especially after you’ve been at it for almost 40 years. In a line of work as simple, yet as complicated as ours, it’s almost too easy. But as a trained diagnostician, that’s exactly how I’ve spent most of my adult life: eliminating what’s right in order to identify what‘s wrong.

Unfortunately, it isn’t terribly difficult to create a laundry list of potential problems. Considering the complex matrix of manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, sales, billing, delivery and customer relations that works so well, we take it for granted most of the time. Despite the fact it works more often than not, we should recognize just how fragile it can be.

The distributor-shop relationship is very much like one of those very complicated patterns of dominos you see from time to time. They are intricate, elegant in design, incredibly complex, difficult and time consuming to create, and yet a veritable minefield of catastrophic failures. All it takes is that first domino to fall ever-so-slightly out of place, and it breaks a chain reaction designed to connect the first piece to the last.

And, yet, you have to ask yourself how often does that happen? Sure, there are hiccups and glitches, bumps and ruts along the way. Deliveries are late. Orders get lost. The wrong parts get ordered. Cores disappear. But for the most part, the process of automotive service and repair — from the service bay to the manufacturer through the warehouse and jobber store and then back again — may be one of the more perfect examples of a synergistic and symbiotic relationship ever created.

Under less-than-perfect conditions, the process works well enough to keep us all mobile. Sure, there are problems and many of them are obvious and in desperate need of our attention. Everyone could do his job a little better; everyone could take his responsibilities a little more seriously, and we all know we could all use a little training — technical, management and maybe even a little sensitivity. But again, for the most part, the system works! Vehicles fail, parts get ordered, delivered and installed, and the cars and trucks that we all depend upon so much move back and forth on America’s highways almost without interruption. That’s something to be really proud of.

We do a great job, you and I. And, while it is certainly important to consider where the flaws are and how to eliminate them, we should never lose track of the fact that despite everything that might be wrong with our industry and everyone in it, we all do one hell of a job every day. And in most cases, we do it without the appreciation or recognition of the importance of what that job warrants.

So, I would like to stop for a moment to let you know that despite what must seem like an endless torrent of criticism, I really do understand the difficulties involved in getting the parts I need from where they are to where they need to be. I understand and appreciate the role each of you play in that incredibly difficult choreography and I, for one, am grateful that you have made the career choice you have.  













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