Article > Opinion

The Real Rock Stars

By Jon S. Owens

If technicians are the industry's rock star, what are the parts professionals?

I watched a press conference that involved the Rolling Stones, which was part of the never-ending hype just before the Super Bowl. Thankfully, there were no "wardrobe malfunctions" that diverted our attention from the performance. These guys are well into their sixties and yet they remain the quintessential "rock stars" of a an entire generation.

Speaking of "rock stars," some in the industry (including me) have recently referred to your technician customers as "rock stars." It's easy to do, as they seem to garner everyone's attention. Marketing types throughout the industry refer to technicians as "the guys who throw away the box," or "the wellhead of our industry" - terms that signify their great importance. In translating all of this "hype" into today's vernacular, it's easy to summarize the almighty technician as a "rock star."

To you, he's a customer, and that's really all that needs to be said. By being the customer, he is automatically thrust to the top of the food chain. If we must constantly remind ourselves of their importance, then shame on us.

In this month's issue, we present our annual Super Stores report, which begins on page 30. In reviewing it, I am reminded of the powerful parts store groups (along with the multitudes of independents that are not listed) across the country, and their influence on parts movement from the manufacturing plant to the repair shop bay. However, more importantly, I am also reminded of the personnel within these stores and their impact over what gets sold and delivered, along with what does not.

Manufacturing suppliers are keenly aware of how important technicians are to our market, but rarely do I hear them speak (without being prompted) of the importance of store personnel. The Super Stores list represents an entire network of professionals dedicated to taking care of the technician (and DIY) customer on behalf of these suppliers. The parts professionals, counter pros, outside sales reps, operations personnel, delivery drivers, store managers, account managers, buyers and all others involved with warehouse and store operations, in essence, are the "roadies" to the technician's "rock star" status.

Without those who make the parts, order the parts, catalog the parts, stock the parts, identify the parts, find the parts and deliver the parts, technicians are nothing more than struggling street musicians. Shame on all of us if one of them ever fails because it essentially means that, in one way or another, we all failed to properly support him.

As we rock out to the tunes being played by successful repair tech "rock stars" across the land, let us not forget about the road crew that helped propel these technicians up on stage, and enabled them to perform. These are the rock star "roadies," posing as professional store personnel across our industry. They "rock" too!

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