Let Me Count the Ways

Let Me Count the Ways

It’s easy to focus on the negative when that’s what you’ve been trained to do, especially after you’ve been at it for nearly 40 years.

It’s easy to focus on the negative when that’s what you’ve been trained to do, especially after you’ve been at it for nearly 40 years. In a relationship as simple and yet as complicated as ours can be, it’s almost too easy. But as a trained diagnostician that’s exactly how I’ve spent most of my adult life — eliminating what’s right in order to identify what is wrong.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that terribly difficult to create a laundry list of potential problems if you consider the complex matrix of manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, sales, billing, delivery and customer relations that works so well that we take it for granted most of the time. Despite the fact that it works more often than not, we should recognize just how fragile it can be.

From above, our relationship must look very much like one of those very complicated patterns you see from time to time constructed entirely out of dominos. They are intricate, elegant in design, incredibly complex, difficult and time consuming to create, and yet a veritable mine field of catastrophic failures just waiting to happen. When the first domino falls over, sending it crashing into its neighbor, it starts a chain reaction that works its way from the first piece to the last.

And yet, you have to ask yourself how often does that happen? Sure there are hiccups and glitches, bumps and ruts along the way. Deliveries are late. Orders get lost. The wrong parts get ordered. Cores disappear. But, for the most part, the process of automotive service and repair that works its way from the service bay to the manufacturer through the warehouse and jobber store and then back again may be one of the most perfect examples of a synergistic and symbiotic relationship there is.

Under less than perfect conditions the process works. Or, at least, it works well enough to keep us all mobile. Sure, there are problems, and yes, many of them are obvious and in desperate need of attention. Everyone could do their jobs a little better; everyone could take their responsibilities a little more seriously, and God knows, we could all use a little training — technical training, management training and maybe even a little sensitivity training. But, for the most part, the system works! Vehicles fail, parts get ordered, delivered and installed and the cars and trucks that we all depend upon so much move back and forth on America’s highways almost without interruption.
That’s something to be really proud of, something worth stopping for a moment to consider.

We do a great job, you and I. It is certainly important to consider where the flaws are and how to eliminate them while continually searching for a better, more effective, more efficient way to interact with one another. However, we should never lose track of the fact that despite everything that might be wrong with our industry and everyone in it, we all do one hell of a job every day and for the most part, we do it without the appreciation or recognition the importance of that job warrants.

So, I would like to stop for a moment to let you know that despite what must seem like an unending torrent of criticism, I really do understand the difficulties involved in getting the parts I need from where they are to where they need to be. I understand and appreciate the role each and of you play in that incredibly difficult choreography and I for one am grateful that you have chosen to dedicate your life to our industry.

So, thanks for a job well done!

Mitch Schneider co-owns and operates Schneider’s Automotive Service in Simi Valley, CA. Readers can contact him at [email protected].

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