Auto Service World
Feature   October 1, 2003   by Auto Service World

10 Things a Counterperson Should Never Do

This isn’t exactly a top 10 list. It is, however, a list of things to remember in the heat of battle.

1. Never tell a customer you have a part in stock until you check. Parts can come and go quickly.

2. Never assume that since you had that part this morning and you didn’t sell it that it’s still there. This is particularly important when inventory management systems link different facilities.

3. Never yell at a customer, even if they’re yelling at you. It’s your role to defuse a situation, not escalate it. If a customer is getting to be too much to handle, call your manager over to help. Sometimes a new voice on the phone can help calm a customer down.

4. Never promise a customer a part in half an hour if you know you can’t get it to him for an hour and a half. Most trade customers are fixated on getting as many cars as possible through in a day–they think it’s the best path to profit, which it isn’t–and few things annoy them more than having a car on a hoist and waiting, and waiting . . .

5. Never send a customer a delivery when their credit is bad without getting prior authorization. It is easy to do this when you’re trying to get orders picked and shipped in the midst of a busy day, but sending parts to a customer who isn’t paying is a wasted effort.

6. Never pick or ship an order without generating paperwork. (See 2.) A part on the shelf of your store might already be promised to another branch, and they’re coming to get it, or it hasn’t been picked for them yet. The point is that even if you see it on the shelf, if you don’t see it in inventory on your computer screen, it may not be there.

7. Never confuse markup with margin. A 50% markup will yield a 33.3% margin. If your boss sets a minimum margin and asks you to price some items, make sure you know the difference, even if the computer does most of the work.

8. Never cover up mistakes. If you send a customer the wrong part, or inadvertently promise them a part that you find out you don’t have, or don’t have as quickly, or mess up on pricing, let them know as soon as you find out so that they can make an adjustment to their work schedule and expectations.

9. Never talk about one customer’s business with another customer. It may make you feel connected, and the other customer may even find what you say valuable, but they’ll also wonder how much you have to say to other customers about them. (This one goes for business owners too.)

10. Never forget that a counterperson sells himself as much as the parts on the shelf. This should affect the way you answer the phone, the way you take care of your appearance, and the professionalism with which you handle even difficult situations.

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