Quality is Job One

The Importance of Consistency in your Process

In previous articles, we covered sales basics, employees, and inventory. We will now talk about your procedures and processes and how doing these things properly can lead to a quality product and top-notch customer service.

First, ask yourself this question: Which people in your company are involved in customer service? The answer is: everyone! The thing to remember here is that whether the end result is good or bad, it’s usually never one reason or one person. This is why it is crucial to have consistency, and all employees need to be focused on one goal. That goal is: delivering a quality product that meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations.

So, let’s take a look at what a good process should be:

  1. Storage and Handling: Do you have a system in place to properly store and handle your inventory to prevent and/or minimize damage? Damaged goods result in unnecessary credits as well as lost sales.
  2. Transportation: Do you protect your parts from transportation damage? Do you have the right vehicles and are they properly equipped to protect your parts from damage in transit? This is very important when you are selling sheet metal (collision parts). We have found that investing in products such as “Panel Armor” and moving blankets, have more than paid for themselves in lost revenue from damage that is now prevented.
  3. Preparation: Do you clean your parts? Do you do things to enhance them and make them look better? Regardless of who your customer is, from a walk-in customer to the fussiest body shop, no dirty part should leave your facility. Your parts should all be clean regardless of what the part is. You can take two identical parts, one clean and one dirty, and you can show them to anybody from a layman to an expert, and they will always tell you that the cleaner part is the better part. You really need to invest the time and effort to make your parts look as good as possible.
  4. Quality Control: Do you have a quality control program? Do you have a dedicated person(s) assigned to that area? If you don’t, this is the first thing that you should think about doing. Remember, no matter who you are selling to, your parts represent your company. Basic stuff, like making sure it is the correct part, correct side, and off the correct vehicle is a good place to start. Does the condition of the part match the description? If not, was the salesperson told and did the salesperson contact the customer and communicate the issue?
  5. Communication: Does your sales staff do a good job of communicating with your customers? Do they also do a good job of setting realistic expectations? Whenever a customer tells me that the part must be perfect, I proceed to tell them “New or used, there is no such thing as a perfect part.” We look at credits and returns not so much from a lost revenue standpoint, but from a standpoint of “what did we do wrong where this part did not meet the customer’s expectations, and what can we do to do a better job?” Make sure your salespeople are trained to ask the right questions and get all of the necessary information for each request. Too often, when a deal goes awry, it always seems to be the customer’s fault. The thing to remember here is, we are the professionals, and we can nip a lot of issues in the bud by simply getting all of the right information.

Our number one priority should be to always strive to improve our processes with the goal of consistently delivering quality products, on time and as described.

Under-promise and Over-deliver! A satisfied customer is a steady customer! Remember, the keys to success are: work hard, do a good job, and above all, be fair and honest with your customers. Support your state association, support ARA, the only association for Auto Recyclers!

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.