Focus on Fundamentals: Core Competencies

In my role with ARA as a mentor, I created some basic instructions for Recyclers that I am mentoring. After looking at this first one, I said to myself, “This is something that is relevant and of use to all recyclers, myself included.” I think that we all from time to time need to focus on our fundamentals. It gets very easy to lose sight of this. I also think that simpler is better and less is more.  This is Part 1 of a 5-part article.

Sales Basics 101

  • Proper phone etiquette and call management are a must! Speak and conduct yourself always in a professional manner. Be businesslike but also be polite and personable. Always ask and address your customer by name. i.e.: “How can I help you, Joe?” not “What do you need, man?”
  • Answering the phone. Give company name, then your name and ask “How can I help you?”
  • Identify your customer. Ask, “Who is calling?”
  • Ask what they need. Also have a pen and notepad at hand and jot down year, make, and model so you don’t have to ask them to repeat it while you’re looking up
    the order.
  • Manage your time on phone calls. In most cases, a normal part request call should not exceed three minutes. If you are on the phone with a customer, do not lay the phone down to talk to someone else. If necessary, put the customer on hold or simply ask them if you can call them back. The same rule applies if the customer does not have all the information you need to properly quote
    their request.
  • Respect your customer’s time. Try to keep calls brief and to the point.
  • After they have told you what they need, look up request and check previous quotes.
  • If this is a shop, ask them if they have the job or if they are writing an estimate. If they say they have the job, you can now assume that they are ready to purchase the part and they probably have a price to work with. Now you can ask how soon do they need it and what do you have to work with for a prices.
  • If they say they are writing it (estimate), after looking up the request, still ask them when they would need it. Then give them availability, price, and delivery time.
  • Control the Conversation. Try to get as much information from the customer as you can. Do not be just an “information desk.”
  • When you are finished with the request, whether this is just a quote or an order, repeat the request to the customer. Do not use, “right” or “left.” Use, “driver side” or “passenger side.”
  • When you are finished with the request, ask for the sale.
  • Always give your customer a quote number and tell them to use this number if they call back so that it will be easier to help them.
  • At the point of order, always get the VIN number for the vehicle and decode it to verify correct year, make
    and model.
  • As for giving a quote and requesting a VIN number, explain to the customer the reason for this is to give them the right part the first time and to make it easier for them should they have to call back to order it or if you need more information from them.
  • When you have idle time, check your previous quotes. Contact some of these customers to see if they still need the part; or if you find out they purchased it elsewhere, this will at least give you information (if the customer is willing to share), as to why you did not get the order.
  • Lastly, make follow-up calls on previous purchases. Ask the customer if all was okay, if they were happy, and if the purchase met their expectations. Also ask, “Is there something we could’ve done better?” Ask them if there is anything else that they need while you have them on the phone. Thank them for their business.

Remember, the salespeople that quote the most and do these fundamentals consistently are always the best performers. Also remember, doing this will keep customers coming back, and make for a better day with less drama, all which equals increased sales and future opportunities for the company.

These Basic strategies and tips should be read through by your sales people at the beginning of each day. If you would like a copy of a cheat sheet, please email Debbie at and she will email you a copy in a format that is easy to print out on card stock to hand to all of your sales people.

Support your State Associations! Support ARA!

Marty Hollingshead

ARA Secretary · Northlake Auto Recyclers — Hammond, IN

Hollingshead has been in the professional automotive recycling industry for 45 years, including 34 years as President/Owner of Northlake Auto Recyclers, one of the industry’s leading facilities. Hollingshead prides himself on taking a hands-on approach in the business, employing the use of checks and balances for quality control to ensure customers only receive the highest quality parts. Northlake was one of the first automotive recycling facilities in the state of Indiana to receive from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management the Indiana Clean Yard – Gold Level Certification in 2009. Northlake was certified as one of the Indiana Certified Automotive Recycler Exemplary Standards (INCARES) program’s inaugural medalists and was the highest scoring facility in Indiana in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and tied for first place in 2018. Northlake was also the recipient of the 2016 ARA Certified Automotive Recycler of the Year award, having been nominated by his peers in the industry.