The Harder I Work The Luckier I Get

I have recently attended a number of trade shows and been “on the ground” at many yards the past few weeks. I have been seeing a lot of the same issues repeated wherever I go.

Business is slow; sales are down

My first question is: Are you behind on inventory? Why do I ask this? Because you can have all of the inventory in the world but if it’s not in your yard management system neither your employees OR your customers will know that you have the parts. The days of customers calling to “see if you have the part” are behind us. When a shop looks on Car-Part.Com and does not see a part they are looking for they just assume you are out of stock.

My next question is: How was your buying last month? When I hear these next words it strikes fear in my heart!  “I bought less cars because business was slow last month”. YIKES! I cannot stress this enough. Your inventory is your life’s blood! If you don’t have the parts, you don’t get the business.

Then I ask the really hard question. How much time are you devoting to your yard and your employees? Do you come in early or stay late to have “uninterrupted time” to look at profit and loss statements or vehicles not in inventory reports?

This past week a customer said “I don’t have time to look at reports” and another one said he did not want me to train him on entering inventory as “I have a guy for that”.

Many years ago I managed a salvage yard. A LOT of things have changed since those days! One constant is that every owner and manager should know how each job is done. I was the type of manager who would clean the bathroom, process the paperwork for a title, grab a part for a customer or hop on the forklift to move cars. It’s not that I wanted or needed to do these jobs, it’s that I COULD do almost every job in the yard. (Well, putting parts back ON a car? I could NOT do that! LOL)

If you don’t know how an employee should be doing a job how will you know if you need to make adjustments, get them new equipment, hire more personnel or let someone go?

Do you have written processes in place so there are no questions regarding how you want the job performed? If not, YOU are not providing them with the tools to do the job!

I am NOT saying to micro manage your employees. Some of my yard owners go too far and want to “touch” everything. Once you have your procedures and policies in place then you need to take a step back and let your people do their job.

I can walk into just about any yard and tell you how many hours a week the owners and managers put in. I can also tell you if these are “productive” hours or if they are failing at the “Work smarter, not harder” philosophy.

I know yard owners who get “big accounts” have “beautiful yards” or buy “nicer salvage” and I hear how “lucky” they are. It’s like my sister has always said to me “Theresa, the harder you work, the luckier you get!”

As always, if you have any questions for me, please email me at or call/text my cell at 859-802-2382.

Theresa Colbert is a public speaker who goes to state association meetings, at no charge, to give classes on cores, brokering and much more. She offers on-site support to salvage yards in many areas and has been an on-the-ground representative for for five years. Prior, she worked at Nu-Parts Automotive Products for 10 years, was a manager at Winter Auto Japanese Engines in Glendale, Arizona, and at AAA Economy Auto Parts in Phoenix, Arizona. With 23 years of industry experience, Theresa has seen the auto recycling world from almost every point of view. When she is at home, she loves to spend time with her family, play with her dogs, cook and watch football.