It's good for business to have at least one person behind your parts counter who really knows the business and can give good advice.

Have you ever asked someone at a parts counter for advice about a job you're doing, as if he or she knows something about it? I did the other day. I looked at the $100 price tag for a transmission fluid change at my local 10-minute (one-hour) oil change place and decided to do it myself. So, I looked in my Subaru manual under specifications and found that it said my car took 10 quarts of fluid. “Ten quarts? That's crazy,” I thought.

So, I went to the local auto parts place and asked the guy at the counter what he thought. And when I told him my car was a Subaru, he said, “That's the right quantity for one of them.”

Well, after trying to install 10 quarts, I found out that he and the manual were wrong - I guess they meant 10 pints! If that had happened to you, would you ever trust anyone there again?

Many years ago, I worked for a Carrier distributor that did a bang-up job in their parts department, despite the fact that it was located behind an out-of-the-way building where parking was sparse and the counter wasn't much larger than my kitchen. While management took the credit for this, the real key to the department's success was a guy who worked behind the counter named Benny. Why? Because he gave good advice and everyone liked him.

Everyone knew that if they were unsure about something they could ask Benny, and he was usually right. So they came to this out-of-the-way place behind the building where they would have trouble parking to see Benny if they were ever in doubt. There were many parts houses that they passed along the way with better selections and good places to park, but most of those would have been proud of the parts business we did, largely because of Benny.

So, what's the point? The point is that it's always a good idea to have at least one person behind your parts counter who really knows the business and can give good advice - it's good for business!

I know that people like that are hard to find and that they generally require more money, but you'll find that they're worth it, if they're really good. You don't have to steal people from your competitors or contractor customers. Why not look for someone who has retired from the business and is looking for something to do? If you make a good choice, you might even find a person who can train the rest of your staff.