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There has been a lot of complaining about parts stores. Once upon a time I used to typeset parts catelogs for NAPA, TRW, Big A and others. The problem is that manufacturers change parts in the middle of the year or use one set of parts for one build configuration and another part for a different configuration. Great care was put into making the data correct.

Now to blast the customer. You go down saturday morning when there are a dozen people trying to get to a few counter people. By the time you finally get to the front of the line you so pissed at all the idiots in front of you your more interested in getting out of the store than what parts your getting at the store. The store is half staffed by weekend part time kids that don't know anything about a car except where you put the keys in.

For the best possible help go during the week, preferable not at lunch hour or immediately after work. The person you will deal with at the store will be a full time employee, not a weekend part timer. When they pull it up on the computer poke your head around so you can see whats on the screen and be sure you agree with the choice there making. Whenever possible take the old part with you and always look at the part there giving you to make sure it looks right. Go to the same store all the time, you will get to know the people, nobody likes to screw up someone they see all the time. When the computer comes up with 2 options and you don't know which one you need most times you can get both parts and monday return the one you didn't need (ask first if the part is returnable if not installed).

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You know I have to say after reading your post about the stores, that it makes me think that the stores are the problem even more. If I am the customer and I want Auto parts, I expect a knowledgeable person behind the parts counter - any time the store is open. If they store wants to serve the public beter they should a. Make sure they have trained people working there and not some HS kid and B. they should have more people on staff if they have lines in the morning. Nothing pisses you off more then when you go to a place with 10 registers or counter slots or whatever and 2 people are working...poor direction and management on the stores part.

Oh well, thank god for good Mustang vendors that ship UPS and take the time to talk to you, help you and show interest in helping the customer out.

Mustang Parts makes a great addiction.
 

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The parts stores should by now understand how their market works. They likely sell the most parts counter parts at these peak times (I realize a lot of business is out the back door to shops, but that is less manpower intensive operation), and deal with people who need a knowledgeable person behind the counter. If you pulled this crap in most other industries you would be out of business.

Take it easy on the 'kids'... I have found them to be more helpful and even more knowledgeable than some of the 'old folks' /forums/images/icons/wink.gif Plus they usually know how to use the computers /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif

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I talked to a manager at Pep Boys (I know most of these parts guys) and his thing about these poor quality workers is that it is hard to find good help for 7.50 to 8.50 an hour. This is about as lame of an excuse as what you just wrote motorhead.
I don't have too many problems with part houses anymore because I have been through it all and know what pitfalls to avoid. The parts being wrong is only part of the problem. I have had parts being bad right out of the box on more than one occasion. Some of these parts were returned in non working order only to be put back on the shelf for sale again??? It happened to me once and I really inspect what I buy now.
I don't know any shops around here that have part time weekend help. I always deal with the regulars and they still don't know their ass from a bowling ball. The Mgrs are not much better.
I always love it when people defend those that should never be defended, utterly pointless. I never give these parts guys a hard time, not in my nature. Retail can really suck and I understand the predicament well from all angles, but it is down right discouraging to have to deal with what a majority of us have to deal with. It is the part of the hobby that I like the least.

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I believe what motorhead is tryin to do is to wise people up on how the beast is, and not how it should be ,he is right. think about it and about your own job...at lunch time the regulars are AT LUNCH and at the end of the day thier brain is beginning to fry and they just want to get home and work on thier own car, end of the day is the best time for misstakes to happen. And on the weekends? Who wants to work seven days a week...Friday's at the end of the day is the worst time ,complete brain meltdown time.This is especially true if the store is understaffed.
Go in the middle of the morning or afternoon when its slow at the store and get a brighter faster clerk, and maybe the correct part.
mytwocents

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It is the business owner's responsibility to provide the service that he/she is selling (in this case, a supply of auto parts and staff people to give you the correct part) if they are to expect return business and satisfied customers. If, every weekend, there's 12 people in line ahead of you, then the store has obviously not hired enough help to meet the demand. As far as dealing with weekend kids who don't know anything about cars, I ask: is that the responsibility of the customer? Why should I, as a customer, have to feel as though I have to create a timeslot during the week because the weekend help is lousy? If the store cannot have good weekend help, then they should close the store completely. I would rather have to wait than to expect, by virtue of the store being opened and advertising that they have this product available, that the store service me properly on the weekend and it can't happen.

As far as bringing old parts, I agree it's good policy, and I do it whenever I can. However, sometimes it is simply not practical - if your tailshaft bushing needs replacing, and you don't have access to multiple cars, how do you bring the old one? You don't, and after the parts place gives you the wrong bushing and you've torn down your tailshaft, now you gotta figure out how to get back to the store.

What I have found to be the biggest problem at these parts stores is that the people working there know ONLY how to use the computer screen to look up parts, and have no clue how to use the actual parts manuals that come out in hardcopy. The computer screen typically only lists the most common application, while the hardcopy will give you specific applications for everything. Example: My '67 has, from the factory, a 66 driveshaft setup. Not only that, but it has the rear end yoke that's 1 1/4" rather than the 'common' 1". No computer screen at any of the parts places, whether looking up 66 or 67, could give me the proper Ujoint - I ended up miking the joint myself and looking in the Ujoint hardcopy manual, which properly listed my Ujoint as a possible '66 Ujoint. Not one person at the parts places knew how to do this.

I may be the exception, but I EXPECT reasonable competency from my parts store. If I can't get it, I move on to another store.

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I've had stuff come right out of the box that was "Core" stuff - supposed to have gone back to the company but went right back on the shelf. I suppose the grease all over it is a pretty good giveaway, but I'd guess some folks clean up their old parts first. It's probably a fair bet that there have been people walk away with and install old crappy parts on their cars..

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As a former Pep Boy manager, parts sales, tire sales, service writer, and ASE tech, these people have it rough.

Most people need parts because thier car broke down so they're pissed off before they walk through the door. Then they have to answer all kinds of engine Q's to get a damn ignition switch!

The counter person also has to figure out what is needed, like tappet cover seal, rotor cap, semi-automatic brake pads and calibers, freezon.... Then they're expected to know how to install the part! Sales people make $8.00/hr, Techs make $18-$30.00/hr. If a knowledgeble person knew parts and knew how to install it, they sure wouldn't be wasting their time arguing with customers.

Mechs and techs have the service writers and managers deal with customers but the reason they deal with customers is because most don't know how to work on cars. So if they can't answer a customers Q, the mechanic has to talk to the customer. Mechanics usually make more than service managers.

The commercial side actually takes half as many people to make 1/10 the money the retail brings in.

Pep Boys and other parts chains is like Mc Donalds, there's just more on the menu. The employees are the same. But Mc Donalds is never "out of stock" on Big Macs. *G*

Take it easy on these guys or they might just spit in your starter when they're in the back room. :p





67 coupe 289 auto, power disc, ms.

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OK, OK, OK, ALREADY! - Just i case you didn't notice on my profile, the NAPA in NAPAMAN means NAPA AUTO PARTS. Let me put my two cents in here if you will. Just a little history about me first. I am a third generation NAPA store owner. This store was originally opened by my Grandfather in the 1930's. My fathertook over in 1970, I took over in 1997. We have been a NAPA store since 1945. We were a "non- affiliate" before that. The auto parts business has changed a lot over the years. The biggest change has come in the last 10 years. In Youngstown, Ohio there is this huge oversaturation of the big chain auto parts stores (i.e. - PEP BOYS, ADVANCE, AUTOZONE, etc ) We have an Advance Auto Parts located less than 10 feet to our east side wall. We can compete with this cahin store very well because we have updated with the times, we carry the largest inventory in Youngstown, we serve our customers the way they deserve to be treated, and WE KNOW HOW TO READ THE CATALOGS! Yes, we do have a computer, but about 50% of the time, we will have to go to the catalog rack to double check the number. Try going into any of the big chain stores and asking them to look up something in a catalog. IF THEY HAVE THE CATALOG, they more than likely don,t know how to use it. We have had the same 11 employees working for our store for over 5 years now. We have basically minimal employee turnover. One major chain store in our town has had six managers & over 40 employees change since they opened a little over two years ago. This big change in the auto parts business has come from one source - THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR. Everyone has to admit, they have been drawn in to these big chain store for THE BIG SALE, or GRAND OPENING SALE. You probably went there and bought the oil filter you needed for $1.99, when you could have bought it at any other traditional auto parts store for nearly the same cost. Then when you need something really togh, like a 67 Mustang part, you go to the REAL auto parts stores. (NAPA, BIG A, CARQUEST, etc). I can't count how many times a customer has told me - " I buy most of my parts at (ADVANCE, PEP BOYS, AUTOZONE), but I come to you guys for the HARD TO FIND PARTS. This is what put so many GOOD AUTO PARTS STORES OUT OF BUSINESS! You go to a big chain store for your brakes, water pumps, alternators, starters for your 97 Lumina, but when you need a neutral safety switch for your Mustang, you go to a REAL AUTO PARTS STORE. And, while your there, why not ask them why they think that starter you bought somewhere else keeps going bad, or why the brake pads you bought somewhere else are squeaking? All the easy "GRAVY' sales go th the big chains, and the REAL parts stores are left to find the HARD TO FIND PARTS. So, over the years, the smaller stores close down, the GOOD COUNTER PEOPLE see no future, & change professions, and you are stuck with the big chains that don't know anything, and don't care either. Why not try a REAL PARTS STORE next time you need a part, do it before they are all gone. I don't mean to complain, but I see all the AUTO PARTS BASHING going on here, so I want to stick up for all the Independant auto parts stores out there, and all the REAL PARTS STORES. I am not saying that all the smaller stores are good, but if you have a problem, the OWNER IS USUALLY IN THE STORE - AND HE WILL CARE ABOUT YOUR PROBLEM.
 
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When Pep Boys doesn't have the part in stock and offers to order it and have it within the hour, it usually comes from Napa Mans store or one of the many other independant parts store Pep Boys has an account with. We're told not to order from NAPA but when they are the only ones that have the part, Pep Boys will order it for you from NAPA.

Napaman, if you can't the beat the compitition, join 'em. Walk in with some donuts and set up an account. It's eaiser for an inexperienced counter person to call you for a part than it does to look one up.

I've often seen parts delivered that I know are on the shelf. Maybe it's cause of the donuts? Or maybe their delivery girl in tight shorts???

67 coupe 289 auto, power disc, ms.

It doesn't matter if you win or lose. It only matters if "I" win.
 

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I was b!thcin' about the 'Big Boys' ... I have found the Napa counters (Big As and Carquests) to be very helpful 9 times out of 10. Pep Boys and Advance Auto are my sources during the off hours that the smaller shops are closed. But for oil, filters, and such the small shops are ALWAYS overpriced in my experience. Price Mobil 1 as a comparison...

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GREAT POINT! I bet many of you don't realize how much these big chain stores buy from the little mom & pop stores! PEP BOYS is one of our biggest customers. The best thing that Advance could have done was to build right next store to us. We get a constant flow of people from there because they don't have what they need, or just can,t find it!
 

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Jay, I agree with a lot of what you've said, but I think you just made one of Napamans points for him. You go for the less expensive commodity product at the big chains, yet that's the very product that subsidizes the labor and costs that go into the service and availability you're looking for on the more complicated stuff, which doesn't sell in nearly enough volume to keep the store profitable (and therefor open).

The chains base their business model on the assumption that price is the most important part of the transaction for most customers, so they lower their prices and protect their profit margin by keeping discretionary costs (i.e., wages, benefits, inventory, etc.) low. No matter how complex the example, it comes back to the same old thing - we get what we pay for. At the chains, we buy on price and get that level of service.

I think people forget to look at the big picture and understand that paying a little more for some stuff is the investment we make in keeping the competent and well-stocked shops open. It's also a way of telling the big chains that service, not price, is the most important part of the transaction.

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I worked at "Trak Auto" when I was in high school and first year of college. They paid me $5.20/hour in 1996, and I think I got an $0.11 raise at one point. Now I know I could've gotten a better job somewhere but this job was laid back, I got a small discount, and I actually liked CARS. The biggest problem was that the company was [email protected] and the managers did not stock the store correctly. We only had 1 ASE certified parts clerk for a while. We were understaffed and under trained. My training was sticking me behind the parts counter and learning by myself. Any shmoe off the street could be a parts clerk. I guess it saved the company money to hire people at low wages because 95% of the customers just needed tune up parts, brake stuff, misc junk (gas caps, wipers). The other 5% that needed hard to find stuff would end up taking forever, even if we did look in the book, and most of the time the store didn't stock the part.

I blame the penny pinching company and inept store management. The store where I worked is still a crappy store with some high school kids working there. It's obvious they have no training.

As for NAPA and others, they are able to get parts I need that the other stores don't have. However, I'm not going to pay $7 for antifreeze when I can get it for $5 at a big store. Also, the small store by my house won't take credit cards unless the sale is over like $10-$15.
What I do now? Order from mail-order companies.

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We were talkin about the large chain stores like pep, auto and krage. Napa and similar stores are excellent places to deal with.
 

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Hey NAPAMAN, I started all this bashing yesterday so I thought I let you know that I think NAPA is WAY above these other "fuzzy dice" stores. I usualy go my local mom & Pop place (Napa is an hour drive round trip) because they know my car better than me. There isn't any flash or pretty signs, no Bumper stickers,etc... The counters are full of grease and there is dirty fingerprints all over the store. All of the employees have been there forever and address me by name. Thats how it should be everywhere. It sounds like you run the same type of operation. I agree that the retails stores are exactly that, More interested in sales than service. The managers there really don't know crap about cars, hell they probably got the job from other retail experience that has nothing to do with autos. I will NEVER shop at pep boys again!!!!


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Don't worry too much about the independents... my father was recently shopping for businesses that he could buy and manage after he 'retires'. One of the opportunities he looked at was one of these family part stores (wedged between a Pep Boys and an Autozone). The counter person took home $50K/yr. The two 'mechanics' took home $65K and $60K and finally the manager/owner rewarded himself with a salary over $100K/yr.

This was a shop that was pretty savy... they were open to 7pm weeknights, the counter was closed one weekday per week (can't remember which one) and the store was open Saturday and Sunday. Most of the business went to the local garages of course, but the weekend revenue was impressive.

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JAY - IF YOUR FATHER IS LOOKING TO BUY A BUSINESS TO RUN AFTER HE RETIRES, HE MIGHT WANT TO LOOK AT ANOTHER TYPE OF BUSINESS. NAPA HEADQUARTERS IN ATLANTA RECENTLY PUT OUT A REPORT THAT THE AVERAGE INDEPENDANT STORE OWNER WORKS 60+ HOURS A WEEK. IS THAT WHAT YOU CALL RETIREMENT?
ALSO NEXT TIME YOU GO BY THAT STORE THAT PAYS THEIR PEOPLE 60K AYEAR, PICK ME UP A JOB APPLICATION!
 
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