Are you hiring warm bodies or sales professionals? I know in today’s tight labor market, the answer is probably the warm bodies. The challenge today is that no matter how hard it is to hire good people to serve your customers, the competition in the aftermarket space has never been more intense.
In many cases, if you stand on a corner, you only have to look across the street to see at least one competitor. So ask yourself, what’s the difference between you and them?
If your answer is your parts are cheaper, that’s a bad answer. You are probably giving up valuable margins to cover up for something else you lack in the value proposition. If your answer is you that have a better-looking store, might I remind you that aesthetics are very subjective and customers really might not find your pink and orange color scheme all that great.
So maybe it’s your parts. Are they are of better quality than anybody else’s? Not likely in today’s market. Most suppliers have a pretty good handle on quality, fit and durability. Low-cost, inferior parts get weeded out after just one repeat repair by the shop.
So, what is it? Your people, of course! The difference is you and your counterpersons, drivers and anyone who interacts with your customers. In our business, we are providing goods and services and getting paid for it. That’s sales. So why would we put someone who is really good with part numbers and bad with people in front of our customers? Because that is what we have always done in this industry. We want people who draw customers into your business. We want and need great interpersonal skills and people who are pleasant to deal with.
How many times have you heard someone pick up a phone and say, “Yeah. It’s Bob. What are you working on?” When someone treats me like that, I’ll tell you what I think: “Where is the door?”
Today, more than ever, it is imperative that we hire people who can sell and nurture our customers. Stealing somebody else’s retreads are not necessarily the answer. You just may have to grow your own. Someone who has a personality that is pleasant to deal with and likes cars, or has mechanical experience and does not want to wrench anymore.
We just need to get creative and keep in mind we are selling our business first.