Aftermarket Education

Aftermarket Education
Alex Parker explaining a detail to a student. (Photo : CARQUEST)

Getting more students interested in the automotive aftermarket is key to the industry’s future.

Using the ‘Show and Tell’ method is a great way for students to learn what jobs and positions are available throughout the Canadian aftermarket industry. Jobs are waiting and how better to gain this interest and knowledge than through schools with a great ‘Motive Power’ program.

Recently a Motive Power class about automotive parts and distribution organized trips to different types of aftermarket operations—a service provider shop and a jobber store.

Students interested

At the CARQUEST Cobourg, Ontario store, students gathered around Store Manager Alex Parker, as he described what a jobber store was all about. Parker noted, “I was really surprised—I saw that some were very interested in what I had to say, interested in how the business works and hadn’t thought of it as a career option before! “

The students learned the importance of having tools on the counter—measuring tapes, pad and pen, hose cutter, Vernier Caliper, etc.—ready when the customer comes in or a phone call comes through. “In the back of the store, more questions came out as we showed them product—they were keen about this. The main thing the students were interested in was the difference between a $20 item and the same type of product priced at $50. They passed the parts around, talked to each other about them showing the differences in the quality of both, pointing out how much better the more expensive one was! They really picked up the differences and understood the ‘quality’,” Parker noted.

“Our Outside Sales Person, Colin, told the students how he had started on the counter selling parts, progressed through the various positions available at a store and now does outside sales.”

The difference in customers

Parker also explained the difference between a retail customer versus a commercial customer. When dealing with a retail customer, you have more of a chance to ‘upsell’ than you do with a commercial customer who knows what he wants and how fast he can get it. “We were still checking stock in, so we pointed out the importance of putting the specific items in the correct spot so that when a customer needs that product it’s easily and quickly found. A couple of students started to ask questions and it was clear they were seriously thinking this was an avenue they might pursue as a career. It definitely opened their eyes… they saw opportunities they could have, positions that were available and realized it wasn’t just a job answering phones and selling parts.”

Brent Hotton, District Manager, Eastern Ontario, CARQUEST was also there and said, “Overall we had a great few hours with the students, many were very interested and asked questions, while others were quiet and possibly a little shy.

“We explained most of the day-to-day activities of operating one of our stores from the processes for a commercial customers VS a retail customer, including delivery, returns, cores, warranties, etc.

“Many were surprised to learn that most of our stores have a minimum of $600K inventory invested in the store with larger stores more than double that amount. They were quite interested in the ability to start in the automotive business at an entry level position—driver, stock room, counter trainee and grow to any level they strive to attain, as well as how many other professions work for an auto parts company at the head office level—accounting, marketing, human resources, etc.”

The jobber store ‘Show and Tell’ was a positive learning experience for the students.

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