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ALLEN & ALLAN: There Are Many Different Types of Customers



By Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber

So here we are, week after week telling the counter professionals to watch how they answer the phone, always be aware of their sometimes imperfect attitude and always try to make the company a fair profit on the sale. Has anyone ever stopped to think about what today’s counter professional actually deals with during their day? As former business owners with five auto parts stores and some 50 employees, we decided to give this topic some thought. We deal with a myriad of different types of customers, all with their own personalities, attitudes and bad days being pushed on to us. Let’s take a look at the various types of customers we as counter professionals encounter every day.

The Retail Customer
They walk into our stores all day long. Most of these customers are looking for advice and some technical know-how to save money. This do-it-yourself type of customer is an asset to any business because they are high-profit, pay-as-they-go, usually have no returns and do not require any deliveries. Many times these customers actually say, “Thank You” to the counter professional waiting on them.

Our Best Technician Customer
We love dealing with these people; they are our friends. We sometimes socialize with them, they support our store, participate in our marketing programs, pay their bills on time and I have actually seen a few holiday bottles being handed out to the counterpros and drivers over the years. Make no mistake — this is no walk in the park. These customers require a high level of delivery service, substantial knowledge of the products we sell and no mistakes.

The Customer Who Splits Their Business
This customer is an ongoing challenge since they may split their business between two or three parts stores. The “I do not want to put all of my eggs in one basket” concept is usually at work here. These customers are generally cordial and we strive to do our best on every call to get more of their business. Many times, we are simply waiting for one of our competitors to make a cardinal mistake so we can turn this account into a better customer.

The Sometimes Customer
The sometimes customer is someone who calls on a limited basis and is always in a hurry. Usually, we will hear from this customer on Friday at 4:30 with a car on the lift. While we are never happy about this scenario, it is reality, so we deal with it and hope that the customer remembers we bailed him out and throws us some more business.

The Last-Call Customer
This is the customer we love to hate. Every store has a few of these. We are the last call when no one else has the part needed; usually we do not have it either. I have often wondered why these customers think we would drop everything to take care of them, even if we had the part? This is where the counter professional has to really take that deep breath and hold his tongue. What a diverse group of customer’s we service.

As former business owners, we’re sure that we got in the way of our counter professionals many a time. Thankfully, they realized that we would eventually go away and let them continue to masterfully do their job.

Allen Markowitz and Allan Gerber operate Auto Biz Solutions, which provides training, marketing, management and business consulting services to both the automotive jobber and independent repair shop.
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