Over the past several years, I have been afforded the opportunity to share my thoughts on a wide variety of subjects through Counterman magazine. Through this, I’ve delved into the topics of leadership and attitude as a subject more often than any other.
If you’re familiar with Counterman.com, you’ve probably seen “Ask the Counterpro,” where readers send questions about the aftermarket and parts distribution. A team of counter professionals, some of them past Counter Professional of the Year award recipients and technicians, answer the questions as they come in.
Most of the questions pertain to auto repair and problems people are having with their vehicles.
Occasionally, though, people raise questions about how to handle situations that arise within the confines of our walls that the public will rarely see. Sometimes they are questions that hit right to the heart of what we experience every day from the irate customer to why the district manager handled something a certain way. But, on a very rare occasion, we field a question that insults the dignity of the profession that many of us have spent a lifetime trying to succeed in.
The latest of those questions was: “Why does it suck so much working at parts stores?” It came from what I believe to be a fictitious email address that was made up as to hide the person’s real identity. That was probably a smart idea. But if this person is serious in his question, chances are, his attitude shows at work. A negative attitude like this will rear its ugly head when he answers the phone for a repair shop call or talks to a walk-in customer. You’ve seen it before in everyday life: The employee who doesn’t acknowledge you, acts like you’re bothering them or appears as if being at work is one big annoyance.
This contagious attitude can wreck an entire store no matter how big or small the store. And, even if a store has good people with good attitudes, one bad attitude can tend to spoil the bunch. Those on the fringe of questioning their desire for remaining in the industry may feel this bad attitude and allow it to affect their own. Being a newbie at an auto parts store can be a daunting task. There’s much to learn about parts and serving customers and it takes years to be really good at it. Many souls have walked through our doors thinking we have a gravy job and then find that we have more difficult jobs than it would appear.
It’s hard enough to do the job even if everyone has a cheery attitude. When they don’t, look out. The job just got that much harder.
So does this guy have a point? He may, for himself. He may be one of those who thought this job was cake and got a dose of reality. I’m not sure where he’s headed next. He probably won’t be in the parts business long. But wherever he’s headed, I hope he’s happy doing it.
Gerald Wheelus is general manager of Edgewood Auto Parts, Edgewood, Texas.