Doing their part to help
April 28, 2006 - Boyd Collins, of Riebes Auto Parts in Marysville, knows that when customers come into an auto parts store they, more often than not, haven't had a good day.
“Every person that comes in, really doesn't want to be here,” he says, noting that when customers come into a parts store, it's usually because something bad happened to their vehicle.
That's where Collins, and other auto parts professionals come in, to help the customer get the right part as quickly as possible and get them back on the road.
Since mistakes can be detrimental to the customer, asking questions and checking the parts themselves has become a must in the auto parts profession.
For example, if a customer comes in because his vehicle won't start and says the battery is dead, it would be easy to just sell him a new battery and send him on his way.
But, if his vehicle's alternator isn't properly charging the battery, the customer will be back in a week saying the battery sold to them was faulty. Collins first checks the alternator to make sure it is properly charging the battery.
“If you are good to the customer, they'll be good to you,” he says, acknowledging that trust between the parts counter person and the customer is vital to a successful business. When customers are treated well when they need a part, they will more likely return for routine maintenance items or parts to simply upgrade their vehicle.
Matt Schamanski, who worked with Collins for two years at the Yuba City store, agrees that Collins' customer relations skills are one of his many strengths.
“He showed me a lot of ways to be good to the customer,” says Schmanski. “He knows his automobiles, so he's a good counter person.”
“Our number one job is to take care of the customer,” Collins says. “If we don't have a particular part, we will call around to other places to get the right part to the customer.”
Other parts houses will often help out and deliver parts to the store so the customer can pick it up.
“We scratch their back, and they scratch ours” is the way Collins describes the relationship between auto parts stores. “It's not worth it to fight for the customer's business.”
In the ever-changing world of the automotive industry, having the right information at hand is key. That's why most parts stores get their catalogs updated every five to six months.
“In just two generations, we have gone from carborated vehicles to fuel- injected vehicles, which makes it hard to keep up with,” says Collins
Also making it difficult is the number of new cars auto manufacturers release each year.
“There are so many new cars out there and the newer the car, the harder it is to get the parts,” he says.
Besides carrying marine parts, parts for tractors and big rigs can also be found at Riebes.
“If it has wheels, heck if it doesn't have wheels, we can get you the part,” Collins says.
Still considered a “young buck” in the auto parts world at 36, Collins feels past jobs at Western Auto Parts in his hometown of Houston and his time employed at Les Schwab and Kragen locally, have helped him more effectively solve his customer's problems.
Appeal-Democrat Drive coordinator Andy Arrenquin can be reached at 741-2400. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org