Alain Jacques, veteran counterperson at Modern Sales Co-op member Nordiques Inc. in Quebec City, Que., has been named as the Jobber News Counterperson of the Year for 2013.
Jacques, 48, has worked for the Denis Berube-owned business for 20 years, and has become a mainstay of the operation’s sales efforts which are strongly tilted toward retail customers, presenting it’s own challenges.
“There are some regular customers,” says Jacques, “but with retail you don’t know who is going to call. You need to prove yourself with every customer.”
Jacques, who made the transition from being a automotive technician to counterperson when he joined Nordiques says that computer technologies available today have made it easier to get customers information quickly. “When I started we had the paper books and every year we had a new set. With the computer tools we have now” – the business recently upgraded to the Epicor Eagle system—“I can get more accurate information in less time and do more research.”
Owner Denis Berube says that the retail environment really puts pressure on counterpeople to be well informed. “When you’re dealing with the garage, the technician will know the name of the part he’s looking for, but may have no idea what car he’s working on. The retail customer will know the car he has and that’s about it. You really have to work with them.”
And he says that, because Jacques has such a strong background as a technician, it helps immensely. But he’s gone beyond that too. “When he started with me, he really spoke only French. But he realized that if he wanted to communicate with vendors to help customers, he was going to have to learn to speak English well.”
“This award is a real surprise. I don’t feel that I do anything different from my colleagues here. I like my job and I do my best to please the customers. I learn something every day.”
He also plays a role as a purchasing assistant, ensuring that customers wants from today are on the shelf in the future.
“From the moment Alain picked up the phone I could tell he was the right choice,” says Andrew Ross, publisher and editor of Jobber News Magazine. “He’s the kind of counterperson every business owner would be proud to have on staff. He goes beyond answering the phones and taking orders to ensure that the business is well positioned and has the right products available for customers. I’m proud to have him as an addition to the award’s past winners.”
The Jobber News Counterperson of the Year Award is formally known as the Abe Schwartz Memorial Award, named in memory of the owner of British Auto Supply in Toronto, a fixture in Toronto for a century, who spent half a century behind the counter. It has been presented annually to the best in Canada’s automotive aftermarket frontline workers since 2005.
A full profile of Alain Jacques will appear in the December issue of Jobber News Magazine.