Bill Bryan, store manager, Bumper to Bumper, Elmhurst, Ill. — Auto Wares, is the 2010 Counter Professional of the Year.
This year’s Counter Professional of the Year award requirements were more strict than in years’ past. In addition to being ASE P2 certified, applicants or nominees had to also be AIA Import Parts Specialist certified.
Bryan is a consummate parts professional, having been in the parts field for 20 years and automotive in general for an additional four. He manages nine employees. He currently works in a hub location that dispatches parts for a group of Bumper to Bumper/Auto Value stores in the Chicago metro market.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Counter Professional of the Year award. As part of the application process, finalists are asked to review in an essay the three biggest issues facing the aftermarket.
In his response, Bryan said he believes more time must be set aside for counter professionals to train. “We have vast amounts of training available to help everyone learn the newest systems, refreshers for stuff you don’t see everyday and not a lot of us set aside the time for it,” Bryan wrote. “Many do but more could. Training is key for success. The more everyone learns, the easier the day goes because everyone can help everyone. I don’t claim to know it all, but I am not afraid to ask my peers for help or ideas.”
Bryan believes the poor economy should help the aftermarket garner sales. “We need our customer’s business to stay alive. Everyone needs to ask for the sale, period,” he wrote. “Mr. Shop owner is hurting too, and has probably let that helper/apprentice go or reduced payroll hours in some fashion. Now it’s harder for him to chase that part you might not have. If it’s a dealer part or at the competition, ask him if he wants you to go get it. You can make a few bucks and it’s less stress on the shop’s part. That makes him just a little bit more loyal.”
Lastly, Bryan discussed one of the hot-button issues that affects operations each day and how he has tackled it. “Returns nowadays are crazy. You sent the wrong part, you got the wrong info, the vehicle owner cancelled or the old part was put in the box to show Mr. Car Owner and ended up in the returns,” he wrote “We make it a habit to open every box that comes back. It’s a good habit to be in.” The reasons to make opening each box a habit are many, he believes. “It keeps that special part that the next guy might need a good clean part on the shelf, not a used or a core,” he wrote. “The last thing you want is to send out a clean box and get the nasty, upset phone call from the shop. Open your returns when you get them, you’ll be happier in the long run.”