In the Know

Jun 7, 2012

At times it’s nice to feel like the smartest person in the room. But at the counter or in the work bay, it’s even more important for aftermarket professionals to portray an image of being in the know.

Not in a bragging or snooty, Mr. Know-It-All manner, but in a way your customers will respect and appreciate.

We’ve said it before, but in this age of Internet competition, knowledge and service can be as important as parts availability or price when it comes to earning and keeping clients. Your experience and understanding of what makes vehicles go fast is as much a part of your overall business as your toolbox or the sign out front.

Over the years, I’ve met plenty of speed shop owners and installers who refuse to give themselves the credit they deserve when it comes to knowing what makes a great performance vehicle. Some say they were never very smart in school. Others prefer to deflect any attention and let their work speak for itself.

But it’s important to remember that clients want you to be confident in your abilities. Whether they are leaving a high-dollar project in your hands or buying a basic part over the counter, some of their pride is in knowing that their decision is endorsed by someone they consider and expert in the field-namely you.

So, how do aftermarket professionals build their knowledge base? After all, there is no homework and no tests, save for the ultimate performance on the street or at the track of each project that rolls out of your work bay.

Well, you probably know at least some of the answer: reading industry magazines, watching videos and programs, and attending trade shows, seminars and other manufacturer training sessions all help.

And then there’s simply paying attention. Each job you do adds a little more to your well of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to a particular product or application. Getting out of the shop every now and then to see what’s going on in the performance world around you makes a difference, too.

“As busy as you are, get out to different venues where horsepower is being made and see what’s going on. Talk to people when you’re out and about. Ask questions. How can you sell in a market if you don’t know what’s going on?” asks Bill McKnight of MAHLE Clevite.

So, as it says on those classroom posters, make a commitment to never stop learning. Knowledge is power-and power, after all, is what your business is all about.