Jump to content

  • Welcome to Auto Parts Forum

    Whether you are a veteran automotive parts guru or just someone looking for some quick auto parts advice, register today and start a new topic in our forum. Registration is free and you can even sign up with social network platforms such as Facebook, X, and LinkedIn. 

     

Saying ‘Thanks’ To Your Customers


Recommended Posts

For 2019 Counter Professional of the Year Pete Chapman, the key to his success at Car Parts Warehouse (CPW) boils down to one principle: If you want to grow your business, you have to “grow your relationships.”

Cultivating customer relationships is more of an art than a science. It starts with outstanding customer service, of course. But it’s also about the little things – like making sure customers know that you value their business. And Chapman could teach a course on customer appreciation. 

Chapman, who has been the manager of CPW’s Warrensville Heights, Ohio, facility since it opened in 2012, goes out to dinner with customers, and invites them to his home when he and his wife, Laura, are hosting a get-together. During the holidays, he sends dozens of Christmas cards to his customers, and delivers personalized gifts to his top accounts. Over the years, he has hosted a Christmas Eve fish fry at CPW’s Warrensville Heights facility, where he and Laura cook 40 to 50 pounds of catfish for his commercial and DIY customers.

Saying “thank you” to customers is a familiar practice for Chapman. His father, Elvin, owned a repair shop in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Growing up, Chapman remembers how parts suppliers would send gifts to his dad – ranging from confections to Indy 500 tickets.

“And I just saw the way that the different parts stores and vendors took care of him,” Chapman says. “They weren’t buying him. They were telling him ‘thanks.’”

For Tony Wiederhoeft, an outside salesperson for the Auto Value stores in Mankato and Waseca, Minnesota, customer appreciation comes naturally. Like Chapman, Wiederhoeft attributes his success to the relationships he’s developed since joining Auto Value in 2019. In March 2021, Automotive Parts Headquarters (APH) recognized Wiederhoeft as the 2020 Auto Value Salesperson of the Year.

“Once you build a relationship with [your customers], everything just kind of clicks,” Wiederhoeft says.

Depending on the day, Wiederhoeft might visit a handful of shops or he might make it to 15 or more shops. No matter how many calls he makes, Wiederhoeft has embedded customer appreciation into his routine.

“Sometimes, if they need a car pushed in, I’ll end up helping push a car in,” Wiederhoeft says. “Or if it’s a one-man shop and they need somebody to bleed the brakes, I might sit in the car and bleed the brakes.

“The way I look at it, I work for them and I work for Auto Value. … They’re more than customers – they’re friends, they’re family. I’m not there just to sell them something. I’m there for them.”

Wiederhoeft credits his employer, APH, for fostering the family atmosphere. On any given day in a normal summer, you’ll find one of APH’s events trailers setting up shop in one of its markets, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers for the local technicians. In the smaller communities where APH does business, “word gets around and we pretty much feed the community,” adds Jim Pascale, APH’s vice president of store operations.

On especially hot summer days, APH delivery drivers bring ice-cold bottled water and even ice-cream treats to its professional customers.

link hidden, please login to view

Saint Cloud, Minnesota-based APH celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020. To commemorate its centennial, APH had planned a number of customer-appreciation events throughout the year. The centerpiece of the yearlong celebration was going to be its 1952 International Metro delivery truck, which was completely restored and ready to deliver 100,000 ice cream treats to customers across APH’s six-state market. While the pandemic forced APH to scale back its in-person events in 2020, the Metro delivery truck hit the road the following summer.

In September 2021, Wiederhoeft got behind the wheel of the vintage delivery truck to delight some of his customers. Of course, he made a point to visit his top accounts. But he also swung by a few shops “that I don’t do a lot of business with.”

“I drove that ice-cream truck all day,” Wiederhoeft recalls. “We put some serious miles on it. I was in five towns in one day, and they loved it.

“ … We opened up the side panel and everybody from the shop would come out. Some of them are looking at the vehicle, some are enjoying the ice cream, some are signing up for prizes. But I didn’t have anybody say, ‘I don’t have time for that.’ Every single one of them came out to check it out.”

Getting Personal

How do you build strong relationships with your customers? It’s not complicated. You have to spend time with them and get to know them, Wiederhoeft explains.

“They tend to open up more to you when you open up to them,” Wiederhoeft says. “So I’ll buy them pizza or donuts or whatever, and sit down and just hang out with them.”

By spending time with his customers, Wiederhoeft gets a good feel for their hobbies and interests. He takes some of his shops hunting and fishing. In August, he took some of his customers to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals drag races at Brainerd International Raceway, after receiving tickets for being the 2020 Auto Value Salesperson of the Year.

“Instead of just taking my family, I also took a couple of my customers,” Wiederhoeft says. “They had the best time of their life, and we’re going to go back no matter what this year.”

For one of his top customers, the event was his first drag race. “He was like, ‘Dude, we have to go back.’ He wants to bring a couple other people and make a whole weekend out of it this year. It’s the little things like that, I think, that make a world of difference.”

The post

link hidden, please login to view
appeared first on
link hidden, please login to view
.

link hidden, please login to view

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great Tire Deal

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By Max
      We offer photo sets of spare parts for your online store (by manufacturer brands).
      Good quality photos, no logos or watermarks. Resolution from 3Mpix.
      HEPU ( Timing Belt Kit, Water Pump) - 957 images.
      BOSCH (Brake Pads, Brake Shoes) - 1024 images.
      GATES (Belts, Timing Kits, Water Hoses, Pulleys, Thermostats) - 2081 images.
      ZIMMERMANN ( Brake Pads, Brake Shoes, Brake Discs, Brake Drums)
      List of available photos IMAGES.xlsx
       
       














    • By Dorman Products
      Upgrade your Silverado/Sierra's plastic coolant wye to rugged aluminum
    • By Counterman
      ost of our workdays are spent typing and mouse-clicking our way through hundreds of parts requests and catalogue prompts, and we rely heavily on computers for most aspects of our daily operations. Think of the last time your store’s internet or server network went down. Catalogue and inventory information, ordering and receiving functions, invoice printers, driver dispatch and order tracking, and even time clock access are all crippled when the plug gets pulled. Chaos ensues, and if there is no backup plan in place, work grinds to a halt. Depending on corporate policy, you may even have to close the doors until you are back up and running. 
      Even when our computers are running at peak efficiency, the quality of the information we feed into the system has the potential to create a snowball effect of errors, wasting time, personnel resources, inventory dollars, and, ultimately, disappointing our customers. The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” dates to the early days of the computing industry and is a simple way of recalling that no matter how far information technology has progressed in the past 75 years, we still need to capture the correct information to begin that automated process successfully. 
      It all begins with the customer. We rely on them to present us with the basic vehicle and diagnostic information required to catalogue the correct parts, but once we take control of the process, we still need to maintain the integrity of that information. Asking the right questions, following relevant prompts, and verifying options that differentiate similar products lead to successful sales and reduce the number of returns. 
      When you call the parts department at your local OEM dealer, their initial reply is often to ask for the last eight digits of the VIN. That (relatively) simple bit of information serves to eliminate a lot of these errors, identifying the vehicle and all its individual options. It eliminates multiple questions that must be asked (and correctly answered) to lead the parts specialist to the appropriate listings. This reduces the margin for error, but certainly does not eliminate it altogether. Just as a customer might misquote their vehicle descriptors, the customer may misread or misspeak the VIN information, or the parts specialist might write it down incorrectly. It is also a good practice to keep accurate notes (on paper) to keep track of previous calls and orders. These notes also may help your coworkers get up to speed if they need to take over for you with a customer, so legible handwriting counts! Complete notes will help refresh your memory in the event of a comeback or complaint, and may come in handy if you are asked to explain what went wrong with a particular transaction.
      I prefer to repeat a customer’s information back to them, showing that they have my full attention and confirming that what I think I heard is what they believe they asked for. They should not have to repeat themselves, but confirmation is critical at this point in the process. It is certainly better than getting through an entire transaction before realizing the customer who just told you they drive a “Cherokee” is now busy loading their parts order into the back of a GRAND Cherokee!
      Incorrect information anywhere within the conversation can skew the results, and guessing at vehicle identification or options is a recipe for returns. Occasionally, we can skip through irrelevant screen prompts, or even bypass the computer altogether when we know something by heart, but when in doubt, ASK THE QUESTION! We may not be able to prevent our customers from guessing at critical answers, or even from giving us inconsistent information, but we are able to limit the amount of “garbage” that we feed into our computer on our customer’s behalf. 
      When we do encounter a legitimate catalog error, we shouldn’t just blame the computer. In these cases, the “garbage out” is the result of an error (likely made by another human) that was fed into the database. The computer is just repeating the answer it was programmed to give based on the information requested. It is important to report these errors so that the catalogue provider can investigate the error and make any necessary corrections quickly. 
      The post
      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view.
      link hidden, please login to view
    • By Dorman Products
      Making your own gaskets? Get a hollow punch set for pro results
    • By Counterman
      or our commercial customers, price and quality are two of the most important considerations when purchasing parts from you (and your competitors). The third is availability, but at least we have some control over what gets stocked in our stores. Barring supply chain issues and material shortages, keeping the right mix of parts available is up to our buyers and inventory specialists. Unless your store’s pricing strategy is out of line with the competition, pricing (and quality) complaints fall squarely on the vendor/manufacturer. 
      This is not to say that if you are experiencing price, quality, or availability issues with a current vendor that you shouldn’t already be looking for alternate sourcing for the affected SKUs or product lines. During the latest UAW strike, GM and Stellantis parts warehouses were crippled by walkouts, leaving their dealer networks scrambling to provide parts for their customers. Many dealerships were forced to bolster their inventories with quality aftermarket-equivalent products just to keep work flowing through their service departments. 
      link hidden, please login to view For the aftermarket, this was a perfect storm of opportunity. There was less competition from the local dealership in terms of parts sales, and those same dealers were calling on aftermarket suppliers more often for parts they could not readily obtain through their OEM channels. Due to the perception that OE parts are the best option for their vehicle brand (and a need to provide the same level of service, warranty coverage, and quality) these requests were often for premium product lines. Dealerships are generally unwilling to risk their reputation by installing bargain-basement parts, and the expectation that dealership parts and service will carry a premium price tag silences many objections well ahead of the sale. Independent shops specializing in repair or resale of luxury and performance brands also enjoy a more quality-conscious clientele willing to pay a premium for their services.
      There is, however, a subset of dealerships (and some general repair shops) for whom price trumps all other considerations. Your local “buy-here-pay-here” used car lot might come to mind, reconditioning and “flipping” (usually lower-end) auction vehicles, while offering very limited warranty terms. For this market, requests will usually gravitate toward the “least expensive” parts option. Even the most quality-conscious shops sometimes need to hit a “price-point” to stay competitive, and we all have that DIY customer who just wants “the cheapest thing that fits” because they are “trading it in soon” (even though they’ve been telling you that each time they’ve been in for the last three years!).
      In an effort to accommodate all types of customer needs, we are likely to offer multiple lines for most of our “commodity” parts. Filters, brakes, chassis parts, belts, lighting, wipers, and fluids are some of the most common categories in which we offer diverse price and quality options. This isn’t necessarily an issue of price versus quality, but rather comparing the value realized from an item’s price and its quality. For maintenance items like filters, an installer might have a “menu” pricing schedule for oil changes, air and cabin filters, and wiper blades. These services generally include labor at no “additional” cost, and the parts already have a recommended service interval. Selling at a fixed price can be tricky when the costs are variable, so shops often use value-line parts for these services. If the shop advertises “any air filter $49.95 installed,” you can bet they will choose your $12 store brand filter over the $25 premium filter whenever they can! These parts will likely provide sufficient service life, and the cost savings to the shop offsets some of the lost labor revenue. On our side of the counter, oil is usually marketed as a loss leader priced to get customers through the front door. Shops treat oil changes the same way, as an opportunity to get the vehicle in the shop to upsell more profitable work. 
      We would never knowingly offer a product that doesn’t meet some sort of minimum quality standards, nor would we recommend a product that won’t meet a customer’s (reasonable) expectations. The use of “features and benefits” as a selling tool helps classify the customer’s needs, explains the differences in pricing and quality, and minimizes disappointment by customers who expected premium performance and extended service life from the bare-bones product they selected based on price alone. 
      The post
      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view.
      link hidden, please login to view

×
  • Create New...