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It's a Solution, Not a Cost


4/1/2005
By Brian Cruickshank

 

There are precious few things in this business that can't be solved with employee and customer training. Here are just two examples.

Is there anything training can't solve?

In the lofty circles of industry cocktail party conversation, lots of lip service is devoted to all sorts of industry woes. Perhaps none, however, is as lamented as the technician shortage.

Yes, we all know there is a technician shortage. We all know what that will do to the motoring public: higher costs, longer waits. But from a distributor standpoint, the technician shortage poses a far more difficult-to-swallow predicament. At its core, the technician shortage really is a customer shortage, and that fact should scare anyone who makes a living selling auto parts to wholesale accounts.

The Automotive Service Association set out to quantify the problem, and a synopsis of that study appears in this month's issue (The Disappearing Customer, our Market Feature story).

There are ways out of this situation, as this article points out. One of them your distributorship can directly impact - training. Properly training your wholesale customers will make them better at what they do, help them make more money, attract more to the profession and, by extension, make your own store or WD more profitable.

Another example of how training can directly impact your business became clear after fielding several recent calls from readers who had complained to me about a rash of phone scams that have been happening with alarming frequency. The scam goes like this: A TDD or relay operator contacts your store and says that an overseas caller wants some prices on fuel pumps. You ask for specifics, but all you get are vague responses about year, make and model. What should really get your scam radar going is when the caller says he wants to buy a large quantity - 500 fuel pumps in one case - and he wants them shipped to Nigeria. One reader in Illinois reported he has gotten six or seven of these calls in the last six weeks.

Again, this is a training issue. These scams only work if your staff is not properly trained to recognize them. Talk to your staff about some of the things that should tip them off that a scam is happening, whether it be over the phone or right in front of their own eyes. According to the Better Business Bureau, here are some ways to scam proof your business:

 


  • Instruct employees not to give out information about the store or its equipment to callers with whom they are not familiar.


  • Warn employees to be suspicious of callers offering bargains or purchases that must be acted on immediately.


  • Make sure each order is in writing, with an authorized signature and purchase order number.


  • Instruct all suppliers to put purchase order numbers on invoices and bills of lading.


  • Do not pay bills that fail to match your documentation.

     

Training is not so much an expense as it is a solution to many of the problems our industry faces each day.













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