Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I was asked about customers...

Since I was asked to report on customers at my workplace I shall do so on this post. But be aware that this is only a preliminary glimpse into the life of a parts-guy.

To most of you readers, going to the dealership to get your parts means a trip into the heavily trafficked part of town, hustling to find parking, being greeted by all manners of sales staff who would rather you purchase a new car rather than fix your current model. And that's even before you arrive at the Parts Department.

I must make a quick aside here prior to mentioning the interaction between parts-guy and customer. There are three different types of parts guys that I have run into. There is the guy that is working the counter because he is unable to find a better job- either because he is uneducated, lazy or otherwise unwilling to search for a job; there is the guy that sells parts because it pays well, he's good at customer service and the job seemed pretty easy; and there is the true parts guy: a guy that understands automotive systems, and can explain those systems in either a technical or a lay-person manner, he loves what he does and is incredibly intelligent and dilligent in his search for that "impossible to find" grommet for the rain-gutter drain tube in your 1983 Ford Fairmont that you don't want to sell because that car "has memories" (which are of course rusty and have since been painted over.) Usually these guys are not "public" friendly and they only end up working the front counter during lunch breaks and on Saturdays.

With that preface let me tell you the story of a good customer transaction; The customer comes is and has either a registration or a copy of his/her VIN, knows the general location of the part, possibly even the nomenclature, or has driven the car into the dealership to show the parts-guy. The Customer knows all pertinent information relating to his question. This is not often the case.

As a parts department representative, I do not set prices. I am not responsible for what the manufacturer uses as a "list" price. I know that I am in business to make money, yet I will not deliberately add to this list price. I give discounts to senior citizens, members of the military, and others, case dependent I assure you. If you walk in and are looking for a thousand dollar accessory for your $60,000 Navigator, I will not give you a discount. As my co-worker likes to say "that's sway. 'S-way it goes."

On to the stories: A customer comes in holding a broken piece of metal. The metal bar is bent and broken, it fell off the car he says. No, I don't know from where it fell off. Well maybe the back of the car. Fifteen minutes of questioning goes by. The piece is finally discovered, after a trip to the vehicle: A trunk lid retaining spring. Fourteen dollars later the guy is back on the road, part in hand.

I was standing at the counter one day and this older gentleman enters and asks me if I work there. I glance down at the uniform that I wear and look at the company logo. "Why yes, yes I do. How can I help you?"

"I need a bolt for my engine."

"Which bolt?" I reply.

"I don't know, but it's about this big." He opens his fingers to indicate a bolt about 2-2 1/2 inches long. "Do you have paper and a pen?"

I hand him a piece of scratch paper, hoping that he's going to possibly show me which part of the engine this bolt came from. I glance down at his doodling. He's drawn me a poor illustration of a bolt.

"Sir, I know what a bolt looks like. What part of the engine did it come from?"

"I don't know."

"How can I help you find the bolt if you don't know where it came from?" I ask, clearly getting frustrated.

"I drew you a picture."

"Sir, is there any chance that your drawing is exactly to scale?" It wasn't, I knew that. It wasn't even close. It was the crudest drawing of a bolt I've ever seen.

"No, I was just showing you what the bolt looked like."

"I know what a bolt looks like. If you can't tell me where it came from in the engine I won't even know how to start looking this up."

"Why not? Can't you just type in bolt and it will come up?"

"No sir, I need to know where to start. You have to help me help you here." I snapped at him.

"Well it's obvious I'm getting nowhere with you. Where's the other guy that works here?" He shot back at me.

Luckily my colleague was at lunch and the guy left without speaking to him.

1 comment:

kmvr said...

hehehehe people are soooo funny!
Reminds me of the day a woman came into the old folks home where I work. She was sent there by her mother to visit an old friend but she couldn't remember her name. She couldn't phone her mother either because her mother is deaf. I told her I was sorry but couldn't really help her. She then said, "I'll describe her. She's an old woman .... grey hair and glasses ....."
Oh how I laughed.