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The High Cost Of Not Training


9/14/2010
By Gerald Wheelus

There is a theory out there that there are three levels of counterpersons. You have simply 1s, 2s or 3s.
 
Gerald Wheelus
There is a theory out there that there are three levels of counterpersons. You have simply 1s, 2s or 3s. Your 1s are experienced, provide excellent customer service and never say “no” until they run out of options for the customer. Within the 2s you have 2As and 2Bs. The 2As often are those who are still moving along and learning but, still do not have a full grasp on our profession. The 2Bs often can be those that could be 2As or even 1s but, possess that sour attitude that keeps us wondering what they were thinking when they said or did that. The 3s are those who have no desire to move up the ladder.

But what makes these 2As, 2Bs and 3s different, most of the time, is attitude. For what reason do these people have a less-than-appropriate attitude toward our business? Some of that is our fault for not spending the time with them that they deserve; some of that is their fault for not requesting more specific time from us to train. Typically speaking, a 2A’s attitude is one that will require a manager to teach and train on a specific idiosyncrasy in our system. That person will most likely ask, “What did you do to solve that problem?”

The 2Bs are the ones who would like to learn but as soon as the next job that comes along offers an extra quarter per hour more, they’re gone.

So what is the high cost of not training or offering a regimented training schedule? In theory, that hypothetical thing called “productivity.” First, a person must come to us with the ability, intelligence and desire to learn our profession. Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out for our profession and therefore, we have to be willing to understand that each organization that has more than one person must have a pecking order. Every great team has great position players. Many will have an all-star on the team and that person will often be the leader of the team.

The leader of a successful team will always acknowledge that the success was not possible without those role players around them. It makes no difference whether or not you have a store of three people or 20 — everyone has a role to play.

As with all things, the winners win with attitude. However, do we help all those 2s and 3s become 1s? Since we are in a constantly changing business and 1s are not usually ready-made and knocking our doors down, we have to say that we lose people each year by not offering a regimented training program to prepare those who come to us.
Some companies offer training and require all the team members to train on various aspects but, it often is so very watered down that it rarely helps a person who is wanting to move from the 2B status to 2A. Often though, our team members think of training as monotonous or even silly and this is where attitude comes in.

To ability to view training as a learning opportunity is the difference between 1s and 2As and all the others. We need those who are willing to work and play their role. Not everyone is destined to be a true parts professional and not everyone is in our business to stay. However, everyone should have the opportunity to rise above the rest if that is what they wish to do.

Many parts professionals start out as drivers. Drivers are the eyes, ears and many times the only representatives that our customers ever see. So why is it they are often considered to be in the 3s category? Drivers are
usually the lowest-paid in our stores but carry that most vital role of taking care of our professional customers. How is it that they get the least amount of training of all the team members and are expected to know less than anyone else? Why would we hire a person with no intentions of giving them any real training and then expect anything more of them than to just drive our vehicles? That again is our fault for not offering them a carrot to reach for.

Worse than that, we hire a driver and let them drive for several months and learn a few things from pure osmosis. We then move them to the counter and wonder why they cannot pull their own weight. Again, we offered them no actual training on the various matters we deal with on the customer service side. Still worse, we expect them to know how to handle all of our policy and procedures on how to handle core and defect returns, credit card receipts, checks and — oh yeah — be sure that you know how to handle the split tendered as well. That person who was a 3 last week is in theory moved to a 2B and had zero training.

We then wonder, “Why does that person not get all this?” Did we ever take that person aside and set them down with a procedure on how to do a “.M” to fix the split tender of a $49.79 sale?

Did we ever consider that we did not explain the importance to them? We often assume that the person in question here would not ever understand the process of why we require the checks, cash and credit cards to all match. Does anyone ever know why the office is such a pain on the matter? Not really. But if you had a 100-plus stores and 500-plus people with their hands in your money, chances are you would like to know where it was coming from and going to as well.

Consider this situation: We need to take a 2B to a 2A because our lead counter professional just left. We may or may not offer that person a raise but they now have the responsibility of getting the freight put up, sweeping and mopping the floors and covering my butt as I run off to put out fires we have started by being short-handed and — oh yeah — quit doing cash refunds without all the right information. We never consider the effect of moving a person who a year ago never thought of parts as a profession to the lead counterperson
position.

The have no idea that you have to know how to rewire alternators, turn brake rotors, have an idea of what ATVs need to operate, what a D2 brake governor does or why you are not supposed to use regular brass fittings to splice an air brake line.

Now they’re the lead counterperson and are being asked all these questions and have little to no training on any of this. And we wonder why are sales start to fall off. Then we ask how come Veterewbie left me for another profession, Veterewbie was doing so well and I gave him a raise.

The 3 that we moved to 2B and then to 2A was not trained. “Training 101 for Dummies” should be the title here as we moved a person through our system expecting — yes expecting — great results but when that person failed to meet expectations, we pushed them out with our demands of “do better or else.”

Now we have a full year, or more invested in a person who left unhappy and mostly because we did not train them properly. Does this all have to do with the person in question? Not really, our fellow team members should take some initiative to learn and follow us veterans around a bit and learn all they can.

But how often do we really train? How often do we explain that we do not suspect you of stealing from the company when we make you ask for the name and phone number on a cash refund? (We need that information so when the IRS comes knocking we have a legitimate cash refund that is somewhat verifiable.) Yes, it is a security measure as well but mostly we need to cover our assets so we are prepared for that audit.

Would that make these situations better for the team member who a year ago had no idea what an
anti-rattle spring was, and is now being confronted with, “We need you to start getting names and
phone numbers on these cash refunds (very sarcastically)?”














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