Strong catalogue skills are a counterperson’s best friend, and few understand this better than Barry Fitzgerald of Colonial Auto Parts in St. John’s, Nfld., the 2006 Jobber News Counterperson of the Year.
“Once you get familiar with the cataloguing, you’re not afraid to tackle anything else. The information is there; it is just a matter of finding it.”
He admits that the job can get a bit hectic sometimes, but overall he believes in the innate value of what he and other counterpeople bring to the job.
It’s important, for example, to give customers the appropriate product options.
“Some will just want low-end product, but when you mention the premium parts, they’ll ask what the difference is. Take brake pads, for example. Older people tend to want the better quality product. The backyard fellas tend to want any product they can bang on.
“But if you mention the other product, it opens the door for the upsell. A lot of times you can tell by looking at the person.”
And, from the trade side, it tends to be the better shops that want the quality brands.
It’s just one of the many things he has learned over the years, but it all starts with the catalogue. It is a method that he recommends to anyone looking at counter sales as a career option.
“First thing, do what I did: get into the catalogues. Go play with the computer. Look around the warehouse and look what’s in every department, not only what’s in hard parts.
See what’s new and be constantly looking and listening. The catalogues are my number one. Know how to read them and when a new one comes out, grab it.”
Use the Internet for suppliers, and keep track of things you learn along the way.
“And have notes in your books. Normally our books are marked up. On our computer system, we’ll add to the notepad–just to minimize the chance of getting the wrong parts.”