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What’s In The DNA Of A True Aftermarket Auto Parts Professional?


9/3/2009

The difference between a great parts specialist and a good parts specialist is a small line. What does it take to be a true parts specialist?
 
By DeWayne Demland

The difference between a great parts specialist and a good parts specialist is a small line. What does it take to be a true parts specialist?

They are problem-solvers: A true parts specialist understands that he/she has one job; they are a problem-solver. They don’t pass the buck and they “own” the problem until it’s resolved. A customer comes to them with a problem and expects them to solve it, not create another one or ignore the one that they have brought to them. The term “customer” in this statement is a very broad definition. It may be someone that comes into your shop, if you are in a parts store, or a service technician in a fleet service bay.

They offer superior customer service: This is one of the most important characteristics that these professionals have and it sets them apart from all the others. So how does someone provide superior customer service? First, they’re interested in the customer and ensuring the customer’s needs are met. And they understand that every customer is valuable. Consider Walmart, for example. Managers there are taught that if a disgruntled customer walks out of the store, never to return, the company would lose $250,000 over the rest of that customer’s lifetime. It’s not hard to imagine that considering a child born in 2008 would cost his or her parents $291,570 by the age of 18, according to a report by the U.S. Agriculture Department. We’ve all been in a store where one customer appears to be given “star” treatment, and another is given the cold shoulder. Make sure every customer is a star.

They keep learning: You can’t provide superior customer service without knowledge. The most obvious would be product knowledge, and as this is a big area, to say that it is the most important probably would be the wrong emphasis. Knowledge of the differences between the manufacturers of a component and why one is better than the other is only one aspect of product knowledge. For example, knowing how the system of a vehicle works will help you serve the customer better. To be a problem-solver, you have to understand what the problem is before you can help to fix it. Education on these systems of a vehicle is a very important aspect of this job. It’s imperative that parts professionals take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow in the position. A true parts specialist never has to be told to attend a training seminar. They’re the ones who offer up ideas about which classes and seminars to attend and work to cover their shift in order to go.

They’re great communicators: Good communication skills are paramount when working with customers. Getting a customer what they “need” is not always the same as what they want. Knowing how to handle each of these situations will make a customer look up to you and come back for more parts. In some instances, you are better off losing a sale and keeping the customer coming back, rather than making the sale and losing him or her because it did not solve the problem. The old adage “the customer is always right” is long gone. We have to realize, as they do, no one knows everything. How you communicate this to them will make you a hero or a jerk. There is no such thing as over-communicating, but there is definitely a problem with under-communicating.

To survive in this business, we need repeat customers. To get loyal, repeat customers, you have to have be a true parts professional.  

DeWayne Demland began working in the family auto parts store at a very young age. He’s been a manager and has earned more than 100 manufacturers’ training certifications. He’s also taught the auto parts business to high school and university students. He currently is designing an online training program for aftermarket parts professionals.
  Previous Comments
avatar   slim shady   star   1/28/2010   2:22 PM

Ken Kaniff? I thought you were from Connecticut!



avatar   Oh Oh Oh O'Reilly   star   1/15/2010   2:56 PM

All of you need to get back to work! It's in your DNA!!!



avatar   Wedge Antilles   star   12/17/2009   5:26 PM

Large chain stores do care about customer service, but they care about massive profits more. Customer service is only possible when you have enough good employees. To get good employees you have to pay a living wage. Chain stores in ANY industry are known for paying single digit wages and slashing payroll, the main reasons why chain stores are not known for customer service.



avatar   WG   star   12/3/2009   9:15 PM

This is a great article. It states exactlly what it takes to be a true professional. Unfortunatly, parts stores these days don't want to hire true professionals because they don't want to spend any money to get the trully good people in their stores that understand what it takes to be a really good parts man. They would rather get some snot nose kid that doesn't have a clue because they can get him or her cheap. Customers today are fickle and don't care where they get their parts as long as the guy or gal behind the counter knows what they are doing. I hear alot of complaints about this store or that store because the folks behind the counter are clueless;overrun with phone calls or customers standing around to be waited on because they won't hire enough help to get the job done with the quality of customer service people demand in today's society. These large chain stores better rethink the way they do things before someone wises up and takes their business away from them.



avatar   joey @ oreilly auto parts   star   10/10/2009   4:49 PM

ted you need to get back to work



avatar   Mac McMillan   star   10/6/2009   1:40 PM

This is a good article about how things should be, but unfortunately they are not always. I have been in the automotive industry since 1969, I have worked in a parts distibution warehouse, a service station back when we actually serviced cars not just pump gas, and the auto parts store. A lot has changed from customer base to warranties. I have always attended any training I could get and got a lot out of being able to talk with factory technicians and salesmen. They have taught me a lot. Now though you never see a factory rep and the traing is done via dvd and computers. They really don't give you much inside information because you can't ask questions. I feel we need to go back to the old ways.



avatar   Glenn D. Gray   star   10/5/2009   11:18 PM

An awsome article and what made feel great after I read this is here I thought I was the only one left who would appreciate a perfectly written article like this. I can now start my day tomarrow feeling more professional then today. Thanks



avatar   ken Kaniff at Oreally Auto   star   10/2/2009   8:01 PM

Ted Wise,,, You need to get back to work..!!!SLACKER!!!



avatar   Reuben   star   9/26/2009   1:57 PM

Great stuff, I'v posted this one on the board for all the guys and gals read. If we all could take this kind of thinking to heart, this store would be un-stoppable.



avatar   terry towery@CARQUEST AUTO PARTS   star   9/22/2009   8:44 PM

The article is great.I have worked in the auto parts business for over 20yrs. I started sweep the floor and stocking and now manager.My old saying is "if you are interested in something you should give it your all". In other words you can't work at a fast food place and a auto parts store at the same time. LOL. Thanks.



avatar   DON @ O'REILLY AUTO PARTS   star   9/21/2009   10:01 PM

GREAT ARTICLE. I HAVE BEEN THE AUTO PARTS BUSINESS FOR 33 YEARS. MOST CUSTOMERS THINK THEY KNOW WHAT THEY NEED BUT IT'S UP TO US TO HELP THEM SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS. LIKE IT OR NOT THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT BUT NEITHER ARE THE PARTS PROFESSIONALS. IT TAKES 2 TO MAKE IT WORK RIGHT.



avatar   Mitzi @ O'reilly Auto Parts   star   9/21/2009   2:19 PM

This is a great article I have been selling parts for 15 yrs. and have seen many people come and go, some with the DNA to make some just here for the money. thanks for this article.



avatar   STEPHANIE @ ORIELLY AUTO PARTS   star   9/20/2009   5:23 PM

IF THATS ALL YOU GUYS GOT OUT OF THIS ARTICLE THEN YOU NEED TO RE-READ THIS ARTICLE AND FORGET THE OBVIOUS WE ALL HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN THE THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT...WHOS RIGHT OR WRONG DOESNT EVEN MATTER...LETS FOCUS IN GETTING THE CUSTOMER WHAT THEY NEED THE FIRST TIME PATENTS UNDERSTANDING AND REALLY GOOD LISTENING SKILLS GOES A LONG WAY...AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL.



avatar   Melissa Norstrom   star   9/18/2009   7:14 PM

Exceptional article. Clearly the author is at the top of his game. Looking forward to future articles.



avatar   Ted Wise   star   9/17/2009   9:33 AM

Andrew and Chris, you guys need to get back to work!!!!



avatar   Andrew Daggett   star   9/16/2009   6:02 PM

great article i have sold parts for Oreilly auto parts since 1998 and have seen many changes in customer service your article really hits it out of the park thank you



avatar   CHRISTOPHER M HARE, OREILLY AUTO   star   9/14/2009   2:53 PM

GREAT ARTICLE I HAVE BEEN SELLING PARTS SINCE 1995 AND THE OLD CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT ADAGE LOST A LOT OF ITS LUSTER THE DAY I STARTED WITH BIGWHEEL ROSSI 15 YEARS AGO YOUR POINT REALLY HIT HOME THANK YOU



avatar   William Perry, Ph.D.   star   9/8/2009   1:01 PM

Exceptional article. I work with DNA and appreciated reading this timely rendering.















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