Back to The Basics

I know that a lot of you are going to think that I am crazy when I tell you my top five tips for January 2020. Some of them are so simple, YOU may not believe that other people are not doing these simple steps. On the other hand, I have been to some businesses (yes, you know who you are) and they are not doing the basics that most recyclers conquered a long time ago.

  1. Answer the phone. This one seems so simple, does it not? Do NOT let the phone ring off the hook, no matter how busy you are. It takes 3 seconds to ask someone to “please hold.” When I first started in the automotive industry, I worked for a man named Frank Winter. My Arizona recyclers will remember him. Let me tell you, if you left the office for 30 seconds, you had better have someone covering your calls! He used to say: “If you let the phone ring more than 2 times you may as well not answer it! You will be talking to someone who thinks that you don’t want to do business with them!”
  2. Answer the “bubble.” Your Car-Part Messaging or whatever instant messaging service you use on your PC is like a ringing phone. The number one recycler-to-recycler complaint that I get in this industry is:  “Can you please make people answer the instant message bubble? I don’t have time to wait on hold to give them a purchase order!”
  3. Price your parts. This is my number two complaint from recyclers, and probably my number one complaint from shops. Think about this example: you want to go online and order new shoes or bath towels. If the online retail store didn’t have a price, would YOU call them to find out how much the shoes or towels are? Or would you just move onto the next one? Yes, I have heard all of your excuses about how long it takes to reprice parts, and that the guy down the street is just going to undercut your prices anyway. You know how I feel about excuses! The most important job at your business (after buying cars) is PRICING parts – PLEASE trust me on this one! Put your prices online!
  4. Inventory in a timely manner. I have been to businesses that are 60 cars behind on inventory, and I have been to businesses that are hundreds of cars behind on inventory. To me, it does not matter if you are 6 cars behind or 600 cars behind. If your customers are all calling from the Psychic Hotline and already know what you have in stock, then it’s ok to be behind in inventory. If not, then you need to step up your game. In case you hadn’t noticed, the year is 2020 and people don’t call on the phone to ask about parts until after they have looked online.
  5. Go to trainings and trade shows. I know that I am always preaching about these subjects. But it’s because I feel strongly that those of us “doing things the way we always did it” won’t be here to tell about “the good old days” if we don’t learn some new tricks! It seems like every week I hear about another recycler closing the doors! I have been in this industry for over 25 years (yes, I started when I was 7 years old!) and I LOVE it! There is no other industry like automotive recycling! The people, the networking, and the IDEAS that we share with each other (in classrooms or at lunch) are things that I don’t see in other industries. I often host a roundtable called “Recycler Hot Topics” and the questions that the recyclers ask each other are oftentimes personal or financial. I have never once in the years of moderating have had someone say “I would prefer not to answer that” or “oh, no, that’s a secret.”

So yes, a lot of these ideas seem to be “basic” but if your business is not doing very well at the basics, how will you ever advance?

As always, have a great month and a VERY BLESSED 2020! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me via text, cell or email at: 859-802-2382 or

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.