Article > Opinion

What Not To Do in Retail Aftermarket Auto Parts Sales

By Gerald Wheelus

Remember the Ten Commandments of Customer Service?
Gerald Wheelus
Some veterans of the automotive aftermarket might remember the Ten Commandments of Customer Service. That Ten Commandments list looked like this:

    1. Greet your customers when they come in the door.
    2. Answer the phone before the third ring.
    3. Tell the customer “thanks.”
    4. Make delivery a priority.
    5. Don’t leave the customer on hold.
    6. Deal with complaints quickly.
    7. Don’t make promises unless you WILL keep them.
    8. Listen to your customers.
    9. ALWAYS be helpful.
    10. Treat customers the way you would like to be treated.

This is a list of things we should do. But it’s often more useful to point out things we shouldn’t do:

1. Do not hover: In the early days we were taught to meet and greet our customer at the door. But here in the 2010s we have added so many retail products that we should back off a bit. We still need to be prompt in acknowledging our customers but we do not need to hold their hands anymore as we should encourage them to look around the store and find some of those items they may need.

2. Do not answer the phone, “Partzzzz Howse, can you hold?”: We are very often too busy to answer that ringing phone but we can ill afford to make the customer on the other end think that. We have to get that phone and make that customer think we are ready to serve them.

3. Do not be too busy to visit with your customer: Yes, there is a fine line here. As managers we look and realize that guy has been here a long time holding my employee up, talking about the moon and stars above. But that customer is enjoying their visit and they are both smiling and having a good time, so let it be.

4. Do not be rude: Rudeness is the number one reason people do not go back to a store or business. Rude behavior cannot be tolerated when dealing with the public.

5. Do not show impatience: Just behind rude behavior is impatience when it comes to why customers do not come back to a store. Customers feel slighted when we show impatience and it is viewed as a form of rudeness.

6. Do not appear to be indifferent: Recently an issue came up where I had found myself telling the customer to go on over to another store. The customer at this point did not care how much I knew because I showed him I did not care. The customer is not always right but they are always the customer. A little patience goes a long way.

7. Do not mislead your customer: There are many customer complaints and issues we have to deal with daily. However, just as with every aspect of life, the truth is always best.

8. Do not argue with your customer: Another one-liner we have all heard is do not argue with an idiot because the people watching might not know which one is which. Since the customer is always the customer, issues should be resolved way before an argument ensues.

9. Do not break pledges to your customer: Deception will cause an argument more quickly than most anything you can do and once you lose that trust the customer may not ever come back to your store.

10. Do not hold back: Giving customers more than they bargain for keeps them thinking of you. We all sell parts, we all have various services we provide but, giving that little extra effort, compassion, courtesy or time in general can and should keep them coming back.

11. Do not give gloom and doom: Gloom and doom is prevalent and nothing runs customers off more quickly than a gloom and doom person. Positive thinking is contagious.

12. Do not say no: It’s the biggest two-letter word in the dictionary. No also is the most hated word in the dictionary. Customers do not like the word no and we are not always able to say yes. But we can offer solutions to them.

Gerald Wheelus is general manager of Edgewood Auto Parts, Edgewood, Texas. 
  Previous Comments
avatar   A Certain Shade of Green   star   6/10/2010   1:45 PM

Wow, I love how off topic some posts have gotten!

Anyway, I recently was on the "customer end" of things when I was off work and had to call around to a couple parts stores (including my own) looking for a caliper. I was already frustrated and knew the part wouldn't be in stock, however I did not get mad and take it personal when I was told it would have to be ordered like 90% of customers seem to do.

Now I will say the one thing that did get me a little heated was a certain store that left me on hold for over 5 minutes (I actually timed it) and then asked me the same questions about three times each. I got a little taste of how it feels to be on the other side of the fence, so I understand why in "some" instances the customer can get testy.

I know that there are hundreds and thousands of times when know-it-alls won't admit that they're wrong (or are truly that dumb and don't know) or are just straight up A-holes, and it is the hardest thing to do to not reach across the counter and smack them. Especially I, being female, get a LOT of difficult customers who talk to me like I have no idea what I am doing, but if I prove to them that I do, 9 times out of 10 I have a repeat customer.

I guess the bottom line is auto parts, along with any retail, is a difficult career that will constantly test your patience and will most likely never give you the satisfaction you want out of it (monetarily and personally). It's unfortunate, but probably the truth...

avatar   Joe Bob   star   6/8/2010   8:39 PM

The biggest problem with todays parts stores is that they Hire someone like me, give me a little power, then i go mad with power and become a controlling ***** and loose all my friends because i think that I can control them, because my company put me in charge of someone...I own the company now. Mwhahahahaha

avatar   rick   star   6/8/2010   7:52 PM

don't ever buy a new car. wait at least two years. Everyone I've ever known who bought a brand new car regrets it. They end up owing more than what it's worth a year or two later. Or after two years of making outrageous payments they owe exactly what they "paid" for it. It's retarded.

avatar   Greg   star   6/8/2010   6:36 PM

Another example of the customer is always "RIGHT!" Woman walks carrying a piece of wire approx. 12" long. I need this for my BMW she says. The wire has a plug on one end but the other end has been torn off. So I ask what it is for? The reply is..... "Well I don't know but my mechanic says I can get it at any parts store." Question 2 from me is "Do you know what it does?" The answer recieved is "My mechanic says it turns on the check engine light and the brake lights" Then I get the "Why are you all stupid?" No one else could find it either."

avatar   Gabe   star   6/8/2010   3:37 PM

Ed- I would have never guessed you were 27! I figured 40's 50's maybe! You old man!

Don't buy a Corvette! Unless it is that new ZR1 600 hp version, because that is the only Corvette that can back up it's overinflated aura of performance. No offense to Corvette lovers out there.

But! When I go to the GM swap meet let's say. They group cars according to model. While all of us with old cars are walking around looking at cars. Corvette owners are right there, right behind their 80's Corvette with their one friend! Yep that's right they all have one friend. SO while our old cars are most likely worth more than the 70's, and 80's even 90's Corvette's sitting there, that they are so proud of. Ours are sitting there unattended, while theirs are guarded! So I tend to notice there are a bunch of losers sitting behind a turd, that in their mind is a gleaming shined up turd! It's still a TURD!

avatar   Ed   star   6/8/2010   1:51 PM

Mike S, we probably work for the same company, but you have 21+ years in this field, probably not with the same company, but still at a store level, even though you mentioned "having a great chance to move up the ladder very quickly". The company I work for, could be described as exactly as you said, I've seen people make DM or TSM in less than two years, yet you have 21+. Another thing my girlfriend told me is how quickly time passes, I am 27 now, been in this field since I was 17, and recalling it all, it all seemed to happen so quickly, in a blink of an eye and with another blink of the eye, I will be 40, still stuck in the same, dead end job, perhaps making $2 or $3 more an hour, perhaps still believing this is what I love and want to do. Yet I don't settle for half best in life, this is why I enrolled back into college, going for an bachelor's degree in a career field that pays twice of what your DM is making yearly, because I would much rather be able to purchase a brand new Corvette, outright, from the dealer, rather than a 10 year old one from a used car dealer, making interest inflated payments for 3 years.

avatar   Daniel @ Oreilly's   star   6/8/2010   12:51 PM

Not or have ever been a DM just an Installer Specialist

avatar   Gabe   star   6/7/2010   3:32 PM

DPFE!! Our a blower motor cause it only works on high!

avatar   name with held to protect my job   star   6/7/2010   3:24 PM

That is the answer to all of our problems and complaints. "UNION" Then we could strike.

Just kidding! I think?

avatar   Gabe   star   6/6/2010   3:25 PM

Ed- I think Mike S just needs to delegate! Or just do like I do! My manager sometimes likes to hand out cycle counts to everyone working on Saturday, and say, "We need to count all these parts today!" Forgetting one of the things we learned from Checker. Never start a project you can't finish by the weekend. Which makes alot of sense, because weekends are busy. SO you don't start a project on Saturday!

SO that said Mike S you need to do like I do! Do these cycle counts on Saturday! Yep! Then throw it on the counter somewhere, just lose the paperwork! Hey Gabe, we need to do this planogram, but I am the only one on the counter! Yep! Get right on it! Throw the planogram in the assistant managers area where he keeps his coffee mug.

Sorry! Sometimes people don't think when they give assignments. Just ignore the piddly stupid ones, and just take care of customers. That is what makes the story money! Not rearranging things on the shelf 50 times a year.

avatar   GREG   star   6/6/2010   1:08 PM

The customer is not always right. What I mean is that the customer does not always know what they need. How many people come in wanting an EGR valve for a Ford because of the old "EGR Insufficant Flow Code."

avatar   Joe Bob   star   6/5/2010   8:11 PM

I tend to go eat somewhere else, because if they leave their employees on the grill that long, how crispy do you think the burgers will be?

avatar   RIIIIGHT   star   6/5/2010   5:15 PM

ed, i had that exact same conversation with my wife not too long ago. automotive/parts/repair is all i know. its the only field i hold a skill set in that will pay me enough to live on. except, it barely pays enough at all. even working for one of the best companies in the business, ill never make enough money to support my family forever. as it stands, if it werent for the goodwill, and the graciousness of family members, my kids wouldnt have clothes to wear. im going to have to eiher go back to school, or take a permanent part time job. all because i decided to get involved in the auto industry as a career.

avatar   Jay   star   6/5/2010   1:51 PM

Gabe I heard that that Corvette was an '83 model just the other day they where trying to find a fuel injector for it.

avatar   Jay   star   6/5/2010   8:16 AM

A true parts man there is no such thing anymore. Because the companys that are out there want to pay that guy behind the counter what little they can. Then they have higher percentages in sales. I'm personally leaving the business all together cause there is no money in it. A mortgage and car payments you can't survive. Ŭnless you plan living off the tax payers for everything else. I refuse to do that so I'm leaving the business completely.

avatar   Mike S.   star   6/4/2010   3:55 PM

Ed, I am sorry to hear about your $8-$9/hr but congrats on the sugar-momma!!!!! I on the other hand make way more than that and enjoy what I'm doing. And I am working for a company that is rapidly expanding and I have a great chance to move up the ladder very quickly. Daniel I agree with you that the corporate doesn't always have it right. But at least the one that we work for has it right a whole lot more than not.

(I wonder if this is the same daniel that was the dm for Jax??)

avatar   Ed   star   6/4/2010   3:24 PM

Dirk, regarding cell phones, that is when you purchase a cell phone jammer, roughly $65, the more you pay, the greater the range of the unit. They sell these units to theaters, opera houses and the like, where it is improper and impolite to have your phone on anyway. Whats even better is to purchase a power inverter and take the jammer with you out on the roadways.

However, my favorite customer will always be the women who call the parts stores with their men yelling at them from their Lay-Z-Boys, about which part to get. I will usually ask them a question, intentionally, that they have no answer to, just to interrupt Budweiser time and get him on the phone. "Is it a 3.0L Vulcan V6 or a 3.0L Duratec V6, sir?" "Is it 181 cubic inch or 183 cubic inch displacement engine?" or you ask them the eighth digit of the VIN and you get a long "Uhhhhhhh... let me just read you the whole thing." and it becomes obvious they don't know how to count.

avatar   Gabe   star   6/4/2010   12:54 PM

Hey Holiday gas station overnight people make more than me! LOL How messed up is that!? I actually know about cars! What do they have to do, clean up stuff, turn gas pumps on, deal with drunks.

avatar   Ed   star   6/3/2010   2:19 PM

Mike S, you can do all that in one hour, when I could do a 1/4 of the effort and get paid 10 times as much as you did in that first hour, in really any IT career field. Let's face it, it all boils down to money, who can make a living at $8 or $9 an hour? Maybe if you still lived with your parents rent free.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but I'll pass on what my girlfriend said to me once, "How nice for you. How nice for you to have a job that you love. How nice to have a job that barely pays for your gas, your own bills and contributes nothing to OUR mortgage. How nice of me to pick up all the slack and get a job that does pay the mortgage and our combined bills, but it doesn't matter, since you love your job." It made me realize how self absorbed I had become, how indoctrinated I had been by "the company".

When you got to Hardee's/Carl Jr's or McDonalds and see that plaque that has some 50 or 60 year old person on it and beneath the picture is their name and "31 years on the grill", do you feel a sense of pride for that person or a sense of pity?

avatar   Dirk Digler   star   6/3/2010   2:01 PM

I love the customers that call and give their info on the vehicle and you find all the parts for them then they ask what another stores telephone number is and tell you "can you see if they have it ?" What a complete waste of time that could be spent on valuable customers.

How about the customer that comes in talking on their f'n phone and while talking tries to get you to look up parts? I mean seriously what happened to the days of being courtious or even just trying not to be rude?

Lastly- the best one yet! NO offense to spanish decent. When you get a spanish customer that comes in and expects you to automatically speak spanish to them. Sorry it doesn't work that way like it or not. There is no law that has been passed that states I have to speak any language besides english! Last time I checked this is still the land of the free. Its my choice not to speak another language. I'm american and no offense but treat me with some respect just as I do toward any nationality!!!

avatar   Daniel @ O'reilly's   star   6/2/2010   2:45 PM

Look guys, its not all about the company. I have worked for Napa (2yrs), and a Mom & Pop parts store (8yrs) corporations don't always have it right, but the basics are the same everywhere people buy from people not the stores. On the topic of customers being wrong the best way to handle this is to show your skill in showing them their wrong without making the mad granted its not an easy skill to master. The very best complimant is to be thanked by the customer and not the company because there are actually some that are very apprecitive and yes I do have a life I fish quite regular and spend alot of time with my wife and kids you just have to find the balance.

Sorry for all the grammar errors and spelling errors not my best subjects,

Good Luck To All !!!

avatar   Greg   star   6/1/2010   8:47 PM

I too wear the green shirt but sure don't think the way that others do. Yes, I have the ase cert. The customer is NOT always right.

avatar   Gabe   star   6/1/2010   5:28 PM

(standing up pointing at Ed!) I agree with Ed! Except you forgot one group of people Ed. The ones that are not in either of those age ranges. This is my description of those people.

Typically they are in their 30-mid 40's Either they came from some totally different field, or they think they know about cars. But they are the ones that know about cars like this, "My buddy he has a ' 84 Corvette! Yeah it is super charged and turbocharged, has a 3/4 race cam, and makes 12,000,000 horsepower! Yeah he got on it once, and it literally jumped off the ground and flew for like 20 feet! Crazy scary car!"

Most of the time I see these people as having no life. They tend to follow corporate policy to the T. They are usually managers of some kind. Total dweebs! They tend to focus on the fact that a product on a shelf is faced properly, but if it is one degree from perfectly straight, then the store looks like crap. What I have found is most of these people are kind of strange ducks. The believe all propaganda from the company, and strive to make this company money. They also tend to wear company shirts in public on their days off. These are the hardcore! These are the ones that seriously need to get a life. To be that gung ho for a company that you don't own!? There is something wrong there!

I was told by my father once. Everyone wants to belong to something. Whether it be a church, a car club, the military, alot of people want to belong to some group. These people I talk about want to belong to their work. Their work is the best thing they are ever going to do in their life.

I told my Dad once, "I hate when someone finds out I was in the military, and then that is all they constantly can talk about" He told me, "That is because the military was the best thing they have done in their life. So they talk about it! You on the other hand... the military wasn't the best thing your going to do in your life. You have other

avatar   ray   star   5/31/2010   6:52 PM

I don't get paid to make customers happy. I get paid to sell parts. I don't expect a pay raise because we are non-union and non union companies don't give raises. They try to keep a high turnover of non-management employees. DOn't want keep people who may a idea to incresse sales based real work experience. No fear here of us driving customers away. We turn away people, Not customers who buy their parts at meijer or Autozone and come here for free instalation."What? you are not going to repair my car"? IN my world this is not customer service. This is stupidity.

avatar   Brad   star   5/31/2010   4:34 PM

I believe that "The customer is always right, until I can prove them wrong!"

avatar   Steve   star   5/31/2010   8:57 AM


I am scared now that if i stay in the parts business any longer i will loose my ability to use punctuation! AHHHH!

avatar   Race   star   5/27/2010   8:01 PM

I am impressed. Customer service isn't that hard. I've worked for AT&T helping people understand their phone bills. I've worked a gas stations. And now i work at a parts house. Let me tell you friends this is cake. The customer always thinks he's right. just let him hold on that illusion and everything will go real smooth. you let them come around to your way of thinking on their own. Don't say "You are wrong." Say "Really? I thought it was this way because...." That works more often then not. When they don't know anything about the car they need parts for don't tell them they're SoL. Ask them if there is anyone they can call who would know. If they are driving the car get off your lazy butt and go educate your customer. It is amazing how much it helps to try and be helpful. What gets me is the ignorant parts people I run into (or work with). when I say 3800 and you say 3.1? or 3.8? or ask me what OHV/DOHC/SOHC means you should look into another line of work. You have to know something about what your doing. The computer can't do it all for you. Don't forget your books!!! I've seen my fellow counter people try and send a customer away because "They don't make an oil filter for a '60 Rambler."

avatar   Rue @ O'Reilly's   star   5/27/2010   6:50 PM

I'm right there with Daniel@O'Reilly's. The biggest thing to remember is that the customer is not the problem. They are dealing with the problem and are looking for help solving it. Couple things about us in the parts/retail business, when its busy and your brains gonna pop thats when your store is makin' money. Busy is good. Phones are good cause they're worth on average $50.00 a call if you get the caller in the store, which is of course our job. Sounds like a bunch of folks out there need to start trying harder at doing the job they applied to do or go home, stay there and let someone else do it better.

avatar   Mike S.   star   5/27/2010   2:16 PM

mike: It took you 18 years to figure that out?!!!! Wake up and smell the coffee!! I knew that about the 2nd year into my 21+ yrs in parts.

A TRUE PARTSMAN: A man or woman that can handle 3 lines at once plus deal with one or two walk in customers that may come in during that time. MUST be able to answer the impulse questions that the store manager pops up from time to time. Plus dispatch drivers, pull orders, keep up with the dead-beat customers that don't pay their bill, also manage to squeeze in keeping the maintainance up on the trucks. Send out the collects for the day. Look for the odd ball part that your installer customer just brought you that has no part numbers on. Make sales calls to customers that aren't calling you and find out what's up. Have morning coffee (or beverage) Check shelf for any returns that may have been missed from the night before. AND THAT'S JUST THE FIRST HOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Honestly: It is someone who cares about the customer and doing whatever it take care of him or her and hopefully make them happy in the process. No matter how much of a pain they can be!!

avatar   Ed   star   5/27/2010   11:34 AM

Greg, the TRUE PARTSMAN is as follows:

- 18 to 24 year old demographic

- Only capable of working part-time, no insurance benefits

- Absolutely no training, none needed as the FaceTube generation easily adapts to our e-cat system

- Previous work experience includes McDonalds and Wal-Mart

- Will be ecstatic when you offer them .25 cents higher than minimum wage

If you believe there still to be a career as a Counterman, you are diluted. Just look around you, who are your co-workers? That 18-24 demographic I just described, probably with the mix of the 45-65 age demographic too, because they have already achieved what they wanted in life or are semi-retired.

avatar   LIBRA   star   5/26/2010   4:25 PM

The customer is not always right,you just do not tell them when they are wrong....

avatar   Dave Elliott   star   5/26/2010   11:47 AM


The heck you say!

We been brainwarshed.

avatar   mike   star   5/25/2010   1:41 PM

After 18 years in the auto parts buisnes i have come up with "customers are not always right"

avatar   Gerald   star   5/24/2010   8:58 PM

Greg: good question. I will cover this in a future article thanks for the question.

avatar   Tad H.   star   5/24/2010   4:28 PM

Randy: LOL! I've neverhad that one before.

Gerald, I completely agree and I try to treat customers like that. Unfortunately, my company's phone shop program doesn't look too kindly to having phone shoppers be put on hold, even though my manager scheduled no retail coverage for lunches (I work commercial), leaving me alone on the counter with 3 people in line and two phone lines ringing.

avatar   Greg   star   5/23/2010   6:38 PM

What is a TRUE "PARTSMAN"?

avatar   Gerald   star   5/22/2010   10:08 PM

Yall slow down. We never represent an article as absolute fact. Attitudes are always contangious. Retail will never be perfect and you never never never really know what the other guy is going through. However, if you can judge a book by its cover you are really good. If you think that all in every aspect of life is bad then it will continue to be just that. Customers will always try to blame the parts person and that has been going on since 1986 I know that much. Learning to deal with and defuse bad situations will help you grow and yes sometimes we have to be the bigger person and walk away. Remember the comment that you dont want to argue with an idiot why???? We are always at the mercy of the warehouse and therefore can only make promises to that extent continue to explain as long as the truck is on time it will be here. The phone deal is a Managers perogative as to how to direct you. Here is mine. If I have my 10g a month customer on the phone the guy buying a pack of fuses gets bumped. If I have a guy price checking a starter he gets put on hold respectfully of course and we take care of those in front of us. Explaining we are very busy and I have to put you on hold always helps. Unfortunately in retail there are no clear cut rules for each day. However, being courteous is a pre requisite of being in retail and if you cannot do that then maybe it is time for a time out either short or long but do not live life in unhappiness because of the job as it makes everyone around you miserable also.

avatar   Jay   star   5/22/2010   2:47 PM

Wouldn't be nice if all the customers knew what their car was down to the exact option on all of it. Boring...... Then we wouldn't have anything to B Itching about would we. I had a customer walk into a store i was working at several years ago and throw a fuel pump on the counter and tell me that the new fuel pump he bought was junk. Now mind you this guy had to way 300 pounds and barely fit in the door. The guy I was working with was the RSS of the store. This guy was cussing him for this when I came out from the back. My RSS was about to go over the counter at this guy he may of weight 100lbs soaking wet. I open the box after sending My RSS to the back to have a smoke break. To find that it was a GM pump in a Carter box. Calmly asked if he got the to mixed up and he started yelling at me for calling him a liar. So Asking my RSS to go get me that part number off the shelf and showing him that our Carter number and Name was on our pump he laughs and said man I was just joking with you that pump fixed my problem. Thanked me and walked out the door. Thirty minutes of my time wasted on stupid customer but makes for a good story to tell to you. I had a customer walk in looking for a battery for his Honda Accord. When I showed him the one group size and measured the same as his. He told me it wouldn't work because the color was not the same as his. I said we have some rattle cans of that color and he left..

avatar   Gabe   star   5/22/2010   2:34 PM

Sergey- You are from another planet seriously! Of course I am not excited! What do I have to be excited about? I am excited when I walk out the door to go home.

But am I excited to help the customer who thinks every check engine light that comes on is always an O2 sensor? How about the guy that is angry I gave him the wrong headlight, when he pulled out the wrong one. How about the lady who comes in doesn't know what year her car is, what engine is in it, or what she is looking for, and her reason is, "I am a woman I am not suppose to know this stuff!" That one ****** me off the most, because my fiancee chose to empower herself, and asked me to teach her about her car. Just so she would know.

Or Sergey how about the guy who when you have 20 million customers lined up. Starts saying," I have a 97 Lesabre, I bought it back in 1999 it's been a good car, but I replaced a battery back in 2000, and in february we did an intake gasket. The family well we took it on a trip to grand canyon, and it got scratched, so we repainted the fender. My son does most the work on it. Just got new tires before winter. But then I ran over my white dog with those same tires, because he was laying in the snow, and didn't see him, and yadda yadda yadda. Until, finally, "But can you tell me what weight oil I need!?"

Yep Sergey I am excited! I do custom airbrushing on motorcycles, and cars in my spare time, and I would really be excited if I could do that all day everyday. Especially with the money I'd make from it.

But No Sergey unfortunately I am not excited to deal with the general public, deal with morons, and get paid so little that I almost starve some weeks. So again, what is there to be excited about!

I get excited when I get 3 paychecks in one month, because finally the thing I really wanted, and have been looking at for the last 6 months I can actually buy now!

avatar   Phil   star   5/22/2010   12:40 PM

retail customers are retail customers. every store, shop, mall, and superstore has to deal with the same people we do yeah they might go to walmart or the mall because they want to but when they come to us they normally have to, which puts them in a bad mood to begin with. so everyone take a deep breath clear your head and move on. it kinda like being a parent yeah you have the bad times with the kids but the good times far out wieght the bad.

avatar   Randy   star   5/21/2010   6:37 PM

Customer:"hay, im going to hold the phone up to my motor and have my friend try to start it so you can tell me whats wrong with it"

Randy: sir im sorry but im not a mechanic and im not going to be able to diagnose you problem over the phone, if you can explain what its doing i might be able to narrow it down.

Customer: Well what do you mean you cant isnt that what you people do up there.

Randy: No sir we are professional parts people not mechanics.

Customer: well what do you think it is the spark plugs.

Randy: It could be my advice would be you take it to a local shop and have a paid professional take a look and point you in the right direction.

Customer: well this is bull Sh*t you should help me i am the customer.

Randy: sir i would love to help you but i do not know what is wrong with your car if you can tell me what part you need i will love to help you out with it.

Customer: I dont know whats wrong thats why i called you do you think it could be a wire thats bad.

Randy: Yes i do think it could be what kinda car you have ill look and se what a set of wires cost.

Customer: i have a 92 pontiac grand am.

Randy: and what motor do you have.

Customer: I dont know why would i know what kind of motor.

Randy: Because you are buying parts for a car that could have three different motors my advice sir again is to take it to your local mechanic and have them take a look.

Customer: click.

Randy: Thank God

prim example of someone who shoulnt even have a drivers licence so they wouldnt have a car

avatar   mikejones   star   5/21/2010   6:03 PM

I want my DM's to be like hot cougars! Then maybe i'll come in on time....maybe

avatar   Dave Elliott   star   5/21/2010   10:20 AM

We need DM's that look like Megan "smokin' hottie" Fox. That would cause a little excitement!

avatar   Ted Danson   star   5/20/2010   5:13 PM

There are good customers and bad ones. At every store in every town. The key to handling this is easy. Just don't help the bad ones. You can see the difference between good and bad while they are walking up to the door. As soon as you do see one, run for the back or pick up the phone as if you are in a deep conversation with someone. I know it sounds bad but it has really helped me deal with the depressing fact that I work in retail at a parts store. After working with the company for 5 years of my life and still making single digits an hour is bad. I just dread getting out of bed having to deal with the old man that has been working on cars longer than before i was even a thought in my father's head.

avatar   Daniel @ Oreilly's   star   5/20/2010   1:44 PM

You know I see a lot of crying and belly acheing been in retail 18+ years it's not always great there's a lot of crap that comes through but i'm still in it and still enjoy dealing with all my customers even the one's that can be a pain but that's the part of being a true PARTSMAN or just another guy working the counter i have learned when to take things serious and when not to especially the shop calls most once they blow off thier fine it's all part of the deal like it or not so in time you will learn how to handle it or if you can't you might need to look in a different profession.

avatar   sergey   star   5/19/2010   4:58 PM

Hey Gabe, i think you are not excited. My DM says that when he walks in, all team members should be excited all the time.

avatar   Greg   star   5/19/2010   1:16 PM

Parts People are:

1. Understaffed

2. Underpaided

3. Expected to put up with more BS than other people.

4. Get cussed out and called more names than anybody else.

5. Are expected to know everything about every car or truck ever built.

6. Be willing to stay late so Joe Blow who calls 2 minutes before closing can come and get wiper blades, It will only take 20 minutes to get there.

7. Are told that if you want a raise, increase your sales. Why don't the corp. bigwigs come out and show us how? Because they can not do it! Only say it!!!!!

avatar   Never a DM   star   5/18/2010   6:22 PM

For starters, It helps to think a little bit ahead of the customer and use a little tact: when a customer asks me for front pads on those Caravans, I say "believe it or not, it makes a difference on the front whether it has disc or drum on the rear" this not only asks the question, but tells them why you need to know before they get the chance to get huffy about it. Steve-O, if you would greet the customer as they come in and let them know someone will be with them as soon as you can, most people will be patient and wait as long as it's not 20-30 minutes. Ed: when you finish the customer in front of you, speak to the next person and tell them you will be with them shortly. Garret: I'm glad you keep your MANGER close at hand, do you come to work in your swaddling clothes??? Ed: while they may not get as many, I'm sure the employees at Best Buy get their share of stupid calls. Welcome to RETAIL! Dee and blumble: you two are right on.

avatar   Kim   star   5/18/2010   3:18 PM

I agree with can make everyone happy..just try not to make them mad. Show them you are listening to them,and trying to help.

avatar   ts   star   5/18/2010   2:41 PM

Gabe, maybe you should rethink how you ask questions. Say something like, "There are two different options for the front brakes, and which ones you need depend on the type of rear brakes.. do you know if you have drum or disc on the rear, or do you have the van out front so I can go look?" I guarantee the customer will not question you if you ask like that. It never hurts to explain why you're asking a question before you ask, and doing that keeps you and the customer on the same page.

avatar   Dave Elliott   star   5/18/2010   8:44 AM

And Gabe, that isn't just front counter stuff. I have shops give the same reply. come on. The questions we ask may sound stupid, but we can't go farther in the program without an answer. I've got a shop that will just give an answer, right or wrong, and then raise heck if the parts I send are wrong due to his answer. You tell me what to do! I'm at a loss. Oh and I have another shop that says "do you really need to know that?" I just say "Only if you want the right part. If not, I'll just price something to you, right wrong or indifferent."

avatar   FBRengineering   star   5/17/2010   11:49 PM

Minimal staffing and a super low payroll means efficiency at its worst. I hate how people price every single part on their car with tax while you have customers in front of you and installer phone lines blowing up! Try to explain the difference between a BWD sensor and Auto zone unit and they wont care. It seems like these days people dont care about car or human safety!WELCOME TO AMERICA AND THE CORPORATE WORLD!

avatar   Gabe   star   5/17/2010   2:33 PM

Ok here is my favorite Dodge Caravan, voyager, or Town and country. "Does your van have rear drums, or disc?" At which point they reply...... what? "OH well I only needed front brakes!" While they have that look on their face, and tone in theri voice. Like I am not doing my job right, and didn't listen to them. It is getting to the point where I am close to saying, "LOOK! I am here to serve you unfortunately, and when I ask a question I expect an answer! Not a mister know it all who all the sudden thinks I am lacking in my capabilities like alot of American workers, because you happen to have bought a piece of crap van that makes me ask these questions!........MORON!"

Don't worry I am just venting! By the way ED the guy with the scooter it didn't happen to be Chumlee from Pawn Stars was it?

avatar   blumble   star   5/15/2010   7:32 PM

The point is there are always gonna be customers that have no idea what they have or what they need, but if you can be as helpful as possible and at least tell them how to find out you will be able to maintain that person as a customer.

avatar   Gerry Hendrix Ex-dm district 23   star   5/15/2010   3:44 PM

I hate everyone, I'm only here for the parts discount.

avatar   Billy Bob   star   5/15/2010   12:38 PM


avatar   Ed   star   5/12/2010   2:28 PM

Dee, and what do you do if they won't listen to you?

Prime example, a guy comes strolling in looking for an ignition coil for his DUI-cycle (Scooter). I ask him if he has it with him, "No", I ask him if there were any part numbers inscribed on it, "I dunno", I ask him if he can bring me the coil, "Just start bringing me coils to look at". What it boiled down to was this, we kept going back and forth, my direct questions just got vague and indignant answers, he expected me to know exactly which coil he needed just from the combined description of "Small, square and black".

Another one was a guy with a riding mower that used a motorcycle battery. He had no clue as to the make/model of the mower and even less clue to the concept of a group size. He took very rough measurements and even after explaining to him that motorcycle batteries were not like car batteries, where physical dimensions outlined a single group size, he still wanted me to look it up that way. Given room in his rough measurements, I came up with four different group numbers. The least expensive being $89. We wasted fifteen minutes coming to inconclusive answer, when within the first minute, I told him to bring me the battery so I can get the group size off of it, or at least exact measurements. His whole reason for be hard headed about it was his expectations were too high and his understanding of our field and capability was too low.

avatar   Tad   star   5/12/2010   10:51 AM

Yes, that's right. But still, why bother calling for parts if you don't know what kind of vehicle you have? And then get frustrated because we can't find what you're looking for? I can understand not knowing what size brake rotors you have before you take them apart, but you should at least know make, model, year, and engine size. Otherwise, you're wasting everyone's time.

avatar   DEE   star   5/11/2010   9:55 PM

We have got to remember that a customers day never starts with us and will never finish with us and so as parts people it is our job to help them as courteous as we possibly can and to let them know we are here to help them. Is that not what we do so well that keeps us in business?

avatar   Ed   star   5/11/2010   1:17 PM

Steve, amen to that. I can't recall ever having a desire to call Best Buy, ask how much a 50" LG plasma TV, Sony Blu-Ray player, Monster A/V cables and a surge protector is. Ask how much is the total with tax and how much each item is individually, with tax. I can't think of anyone who would subject themselves to waiting that long on hold while a sales associate drags their feet around the store, writing down part numbers. So why is our section of retail that much different?

My favorite are the blatant idiot calls, ie. "Do you have an oil filter for a 93 Honda Civic?" Half the time I just want to answer back "No, it is a special order item, that car is just not common enough".

avatar   Will   star   5/11/2010   9:59 AM

#3. There is a fine line between visiting and "reunion" Some parts people/customers have problems with this. I don't mind as long as everyone else is being taken care of. #7. B.S. a customer and they will take their money elsewhere and you will here from your bosses and their bosses....

avatar   BRAD   star   5/10/2010   9:24 AM


avatar   Mike S   star   5/10/2010   9:12 AM

13. Make sure you have a button under the counter to smack the customer on the back of the head when they are a moron. We shall call it the "EASY" button. Especially the ones that think they know way more than you, when in reality they don't know $***!!

14. Make sure that you "fire" the idiot customer that only calls you after 5pm because the other suppliers are closed or not delivering.

15. When the customer gets irrate, call for reinforcements. AKA "Moose and Rocko". (Caddyshack)


These are things I have picked up being in the business over 20 years.


avatar   GARRET   star   5/9/2010   4:40 PM


avatar   Steve   star   5/8/2010   9:03 AM

See, but these companies need to realize that they cant have all 10 of those things done with "minimal staffing" being payed minimally.

I'm sorry, but if I dont have the staffing to help the people that got out of their house and drove to my store and answer the phones, the phones are getting put on the back burner. Does it suck to be put on hold? Yes, but aside from retail auto parts being run by considerably less people than any other retail stores i see, its also the only retail business i can think of where people call to price EVERYTHING. Can you hold please?

avatar   Steve-O   star   5/7/2010   6:53 PM

I dont like it when a customer comes in and your already helping another and they get all huffy and they start with their tantrum and attracting attention to themselves saying we are giving horrible service.

I had one today and from under HER breath said the "A" word. You dont want to know what i did after that response but lets just say a "Bird' appeared in the store suddenly.

I dont let nobody treat me in that matter. I dont care if their the customer or not.

avatar   Crystal   star   5/7/2010   2:50 PM

Agree plus don't tell a customer their part ordered from a hub store will b here at exactly so and so time. You never know if that driver will be running late or something..then you have a customer who drove 30 miles to be at the store at the time u told them and they have to wait leaves u with an unhappy customer to deal with.

avatar   Kim   star   5/7/2010   12:14 PM


avatar   Ed   star   5/7/2010   11:06 AM

2. Answer the phone with the proper greeting, take down the customer's information and gently place them on hold. Finish with the customer in front of you that the call interupted and return to the customer on the phone.

That never happens, we may get as far as finishing up with the first customer, but as soon as they have their receipt in hand and before you can pick the phone back up, the customer behind them bum rushes the counter and spews forth year, make, model, engine size and part needed as if he was ordering at the Soup Nazi's kitchen. Then gets offended and huffy when you kindly excuse yourself to return to the customer on the phone.

avatar   Will   star   5/7/2010   9:51 AM


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