What makes a shop owner call a jobber several kilometers down the road and bypass the guy a few blocks away? What makes a banner network worth buying from? What level of service is appreciated when it’s offered, and noticed when it’s not? Here’s some candid comments straight from the field.
Dave Booy, Booy’s Automotive Centre, Owen Sound, Ont.
“We certainly appreciate a jobber whose staff are all committed to delivering great service. Having the returns taken care of promptly and credits issued, helping with the hard-to-find parts, and checking in on a monthly basis is great. Some specific changes that some need to be aware of: we are not interested in a Costco relationship that requires us to pay to buy from you. We refuse to pay for any sort of ‘banner’ program. We can get our own deals on uniforms, POS machines, etc. And we don’t care about your labour warranty. Sell us good quality parts, stand behind them, and provide us with volume rebates. That’s it. If your parts start costing too much labour due to premature failure, expect an invoice at full door rate. And rebates from 8%-15% are expected, dependent on reasonable volume.”
Shawn Biss, Shawn’s Auto Service, Smithville, Ont.
“I’ve heard it said it doesn’t matter what you pay for a part, it matters what you sell it for. I somewhat stick to that. I am guilty of always discounting parts, so I’m trying to make sure I’m charging a fair price for parts (and not look for cheapest). I never price shop anymore. I have a Carquest 10 minutes from me, and two other Napa stores 25 minutes away, but I buy entirely from a NAPA store 42 mins away. I do that solely based on the relationship with the store owner. They deliver whenever I order, no matter what it is. Ordering online is also important to me. I only call when I have to. I have a couple of counterpeople that are good to me.
“While training for techs is important, I’m more interested now in upping my shop management skills. We’ve done quite well as a 2-3 man shop. Now, with a big shop expansion, I’m having to scale things up. So I’ve joined Autopro mostly to try and get help learning how to improve. They have a boot camp for shop owners, and I’m looking to network with other shops.
“The one thing that keeps us with Napa is their privilege program. Their big trips are second to none. They are a lot better than just a normal cruise or trip to Mexico. We did 10 days in Portugal in 2016, 10 days in Ireland in 2018. In 2020 it’s Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Plus there is a big convention in Las Vegas in 2020 as well. Getting personal benefit from my business means a lot. We also made some good connections on the Ireland trip. I’ll attach a picture of my wife, Cindy, and me in Ireland (she works in the office full time).
Bruce Eccles, Eccles Auto Service, Dundas, Ont.
“Our relationship with our suppliers is a huge part of our success. We look at inventory and delivery service as a top priority. We want quality parts with good warranty and a labour component if the part fails prematurely. We want quick credits on cores and returns. We need an easy online ordering system with accurate cataloguing. When we have to call our suppliers, we need trained staff to assist us in locating a part we cannot find in the catalogue; they need to be knowledgeable. We ask for a prompt payment discount with a volume rebate annually. Finally and lastly, we want competitive pricing, but not necessarily the least expensive.
“One thing we don’t like is poor communication. We ask sales representatives to make appointments when bringing in a manufacturer’s representative, so we can be prepared and take proper time with them to address any concerns.
“If a jobber provides all of the above, they have created a loyalty. Although we enjoy travel plans and incentive programs, they are merely a bonus, not a major factor in our decision of where we buy our parts.”