Auto Service World
News   November 22, 2019   by Allan Janssen

COMMENTARY: It’s good to air our grievances

Let’s speak honestly about the things that could be improved in our industry. Maybe then things will change.

By Allan Janssen

Our friends to the south will soon be casting their ballots to decide who should lead them for the next four years. If you expect me to weigh in on that discussion, you can think again!

Remember the U.S. election of 2000, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were deadlocked for weeks? I made a casual comment about the situation to an American jobber… and promptly lost a friend!

For the most part, we all know what to avoid discussing in certain situations. If we don’t know (as I clearly didn’t) things can get uncomfortable very quickly.

It’s got me to wondering what topics jobbers and service providers tend to avoid when they get together. What are the equivalents to ‘religion and politics’ in our industry?

I believe there are many things that need to be said but, for the sake of decorum and good feelings, they remain unsaid.

What are the
 three main topics
 you’d most like
 to discuss with
 your clients?
 Maybe we can
 get a conversation

I spent some time with a bunch of jobbers last month and I asked a lot of them individually what they’d tell their clients if they had their undivided attention. The most common answer had to do with unpaid bills for parts. Forget 30 days or even 60 days… it is not uncommon for jobbers to suffer with receivables that extend 90 days, 120-days, and longer. By any measure that is untenable. When things get really out of hand, the shop is subjected to the humiliation and inconvenience of C.O.D. shipments. But rarely is the difficult discussion properly broached.

Here’s another one: unfair ordering practices. Some shops routinely order the same part from multiple jobbers to see which one gets there fastest. All other are returned, which incurs the time and cost of restocking.

Or how about this: they order multiple parts from a single jobber because the service advisor or technician is not exactly sure which one they need. ‘Thanks for the selection. Here, you can have these back. I don’t need them after all!’

Speaking with service providers, I could get a similar list of annoyances about their jobbers. The point is that few of these grievances are given proper vent.

We want to hear
what you think.
Leave your comments
below, or check out
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Look, I’m not advocating angry confrontations. But an open and honest discussion can do wonders to clear the air and improve relations. That’s the ultimate goal of this magazine and its sister publication for repair shops, Canadian Auto Repair and Service (CARS). We want to help build relationships. We’re proponents of freewheeling discussions between jobber stores and their customers.

A while ago I sought your input on the issues facing the industry, and I have appreciated the wide range of opinions that have come in. Now I’d like to ask for something a little more focused.

Tell me the three main topics you’d like to communicate to your customers. Let me pose them to my repair shop readers. Meanwhile, I’ll ask them to send me a list of topics for you to consider.

I hope in this way we can facilitate a true meeting of minds. After all, that’s how problems will get solved in ours or any industry.


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