Parts for Profit Part Thirteen—Wholesale Telephone Sales
This position calls for your most experienced personnel. It is the voice of your department and the hallmark of your competence. Many of your important customers will never see anyone except your driver. Their perception of you will be the person they talk to when they place their order. That perception must be the best one possible. Your employee will have to recognize exactly what the customer wants, without delay, and complete the transaction quickly.
Here is the perfect spot for your “A-type” individual. This person loves to hear the phone ring, has a smile in their voice, and makes friends easily. This employee enjoys getting ahead, reaching goals, and responds to rewards.
This individual will have every tool they need at their disposal. Telephone, computer, paper, order forms, pens, and stapler—everything should be at their station. Time management is the key to wholesale success. Every call needs to be handled as efficiently as possible, to keep your lines open for the next call. If any call is for more than two parts, train your personnel to always call back. Never keep a customer on hold. The hold button is your worst enemy.
Your next enemy is doubt. Time spent going to the bin to check on a part is time wasted. Your telephone wholesaler must always be able to trust the inventory information available to them. If the inventory states that there is one part in stock, they must be able to sell it, without checking. The accuracy of your inventory is key. The parts manager is the one who should accept all responsibility for the accuracy of the inventory. You can allow your people to make inventory adjustments, but make sure they notify you of any and all changes that have been made. You need to know if your inventory errors are excessive, and why.
If you do your job right, an increase will be the natural result of your efficiency. With proper training, you will always have personnel available to move up into sales positions. Simply add personnel as your demand increases.
Increasing business can bring on a new set of problems—a breakdown in communication being the most common one. Watch your telephone traffic, and be prepared to add additional direct phone lines when necessary. With a large wholesale operation, a separate line just for your drivers is also a good idea.
Some dealers employ outside sales personnel to promote their business. I have never done this myself, but you may find it that works for you.
Wholesale customers will talk to each other about you. You want to encourage this as much as possible. Find out if there are any associations in your town for repair businesses. Be an active sponsor for these organizations, and attend their meetings. Remember, there is no better advertisement than a satisfied customer.
Larry Williams is a former parts manager and consultant with national awards and over 40 years of experience in creating profitable departments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.