Parts Pondering v1.9

The last time we met we talked about being in a rut. I believe it. The problem is that you do too.

Shopping is not a “male” thing. I tease that we are missing a DNA strand or something. We typically know what we are looking for or what we want or need, go to a store, look for it, find it, and then go the cash register and buy it – short and sweet and easy. Right?

Well then stores started cutting back on their support staff, the sales people on the floor, perhaps even the number of check out cash registers. Just as you did starting in the 1980’s when interest rates skyrocketed and Paul Volker was trying to kill inflation. All of the sudden the sale per employee metric became religious. It got a following. Oh I know I support standards of performance and one of the key performance indicators in a parts department is the standard of performance. However, there are many nuances to the number.

The variables sometimes are overlooked – like the average dollar value of the transaction, the weight of the parts, the number of pieces sold per part number, the time of year, and the pay package of the parts employee.

The standard that the AED, Associated Equipment Distributors, publishes is $600,000/employee/year. That today is still a pretty good standard as an average result. But we have to be careful of the usual suspects. A man drowned in a river of average depth of one foot. The $600,000 is based on a pay package of $42,000/year. Is that the average salary, commission and benefit package cost for an employee in your parts department? I don’t even need to go further. In some parts of the country this might still be in the right range but you need to do the arithmetic.

The same “male” genetic defect exists in our customers. They don’t like to be kept waiting for you to answer the telephone, or to acknowledge their presence when they walk into your store, or to wait while you go find the part in the warehouse. They want good service. So I acknowledge that good service is a person thing and that what is good for one person is not necessarily good for someone else. That is what makes customer service so difficult. It is the gap between the expectations that the customer has and the perception of what they got. That can only be satisfied by talented, caring, empathetic and skilled people in the correct number on the job. How do you stand up? The time is now.