United Truck Parts

United Truck Parts in Gooding, Idaho has been a part of the TPI family since August of 2017.  It was started by Scott Burnett and Curtis Merrill in order to provide the local community with another option for heavy-duty truck parts.  Scott is the owner of a truck repair facility and this experience, together with his lifelong passion for trucks, gives him the insight and practical knowledge necessary for the successful launch of a yard.  Curtis is the owner of a meat-packing plant in Southern Idaho, and his skills in running a business have helped to ensure a strong start in a very competitive industry for this young company.

In August of 2017, when United formally began, there were two employees in addition to the owners.  Today, one year later, Scott and Curtis are able to employ 5 full-time employees and 4 part-time.  What factor can explain this expansion in such a short period of time?  In a word, relationships:  in various ways, United has put an emphasis on relationships as a core value in its business, and this focus seems to be paying off.  They want every experience with United to be a good one, and they are grateful to come into work to do something they love, and deal with people that make their day better.

At United, the customer is paramount, and understanding who the customer is and what they might need is a priority.  At the moment, farmers in Idaho are experiencing a recession, and so United is pleased to be able to offer them lower-price alternatives for their machinery in the form of used parts, at a time when they need to cut costs.  By helping farmers, the company is also giving back to an essential service, and helping out people who dedicate their lives to ensuring there is food on the table.

Jeff Mortenson, the General Manager at United, also recognizes the close bond that exists between a trucker and their truck.  As Mortensen observes, changes to a truck become an emotional transaction, as the truck has generally been with the driver “for millions of miles, or in some cases, passed down for generations.  Trucks are personalized, each one is different, and they all have the same pieces but different character, it seems.”  Understanding a trucker’s point of view in this way leads to customer service that is more thorough, accurate and complete.

A challenge that United has experienced has been connecting with businesses like their own, but Mortensen says that using TPI has helped with this, as “TPI and the users meeting programs [Sellers Groups] have made that so much easier.”  He also says that using TPI has helped them find new customers in areas beyond their own, and he can’t emphasize enough how much the TPI staff have done for United, noting “what a world of difference it was when we began to fully utilize what TPI had to offer.”

When asked what advice he could give to someone starting up a yard today, Mortensen emphasized, you guessed it, relationship: “Network.  Get to know people.  Know your customer.  Know who they are, and what they need.  Know how to take care of them.  At the end of the day, the customer is why we are in business, and why we all get to take care of our families.”

Happy first anniversary, United, and here’s to many more years of building a strong network with deep roots.

Crediting Back Core Charges on TPI

by Martin Mercer-Deadman, Customer Care Guru

Charging for Cores is a standard procedure in salvage yards, and TPI’s invoicing system is set up for it. What do you do, however, when a customer returns a core? How do you credit them back in the system? Here are the steps to follow:

Bring up the original invoice with the relevant core charge. Go to More Options on the right-hand side and click on Credit Transaction.  Click on the left drop-down menu next to the Engine (see screenshot below; in this example, we have used an invoice from an engine).  In the window that opens, click on the Remove button.

The engine will be removed.  Click on +Credit Core Exchange and from the new window select Core.  Click on +Add.

 

The core will be added to the credit note.  Check credit to see if all the details are correct, you will also have to fill the in the field for Reason for Credit, then click Credit.

If you then go to Connect, Sales Overview, you will see the credit.

 

Related Post:  http://blog.truckpartsinventory.com/what-exactly-are-cores-and-why-is-there-a-charge-for-them/

One Stop Truck and Parts: We’re Glad You’re Here

Miami, Florida is one busy place. With a steadily increasing population and a solid reputation as an international business center, the city is constantly in motion. As a trading hub, Miami is crucial for its proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean, and its port and airport are the busiest in the country in terms of cargo handling. With all of these shipments coming and going, Miami’s distribution infrastructure is dense, and trucking is a part of this network. Of course, where there are truckers, there are services that cater to them, and that includes salvage yards.

The entrepreneurial spirit encouraged by Miami’s growth and development has allowed for the creation of many new yards over the past 15 years, and one of them is One Stop Truck and Parts. But in a highly competitive market such as Miami’s, how does a company stay afloat and continue to progress? For One Stop, we discovered that family values are the motor for its success.

In 2003, Andry Gonzalez started One Stop as a family business, bringing a decade’s worth of industry experience with him. Now, 15 years later, he is joined on a regular basis by his son, Andre, who is actively involved in the running of the business when he is not attending high school or playing for his football team. Andry’s emphasis on the importance of such things as respect and trust has allowed him to develop a loyal customer base that appreciates the effort and commitment he puts into supplying them with the best possible parts, every single time. For Andry, the customer is everything, and his dedication to meeting their needs is second to none.

One Stop’s employees are friendly and knowledgeable, and they practice Andry’s customer-centered business philosophy every day when they are helping people find the part that is best for them. Andry has ensured that his facility is clean, organized, and up-to-date, making the yard easy to navigate and the parts quickly found. His commitment to supplying only the best parts, together with the way he runs his shop, has had an impact on Miami’s used parts’ industry, and One Stop’s level of quality has become a standard.

The company has also been able to embrace changes that enhance its commitment to its customers. At the initiative of Andre, One Stop recently began selling its goods online, its quality and selection now available at any time, and to a much wider audience. With this digital expansion, Andry hopes that, much like a family, One Stop will continue to grow and just get better.

At One Stop, customers know that they are the focus, and that they can trust the company to do what is best for them, each and every time. So, while new salvage yards might be popping up regularly in Miami because of the city’s continued growth, it would seem that older things, like the family values of respect, commitment, dedication, and focus, are the solid foundations upon which to base an enduring success.

Shipping Guide for Online Sales

By Scott Tetz, Owner of TruckPartSolutions.com

There’s a big shift in the way people look for parts. You used to be able to put a small ad in the Yellow Pages and the phone would ring. I recently had a customer ask me if he should advertise in the Yellow Pages. I thought he was joking but he wasn’t. I told him I haven’t seen a Yellow Pages book in 10 years.

People are using the internet more and more to find what they are looking for. Our traffic continues to grow year after year. The customers we add to TruckPartsInventory.com (TPI) say, “This is like a light switch for sales.”

The above being said, you need to be able to ship parts to accommodate orders. For those companies who don’t ship parts, this is for you. Here’s a step by step guide to get you up and running fast:

1. Get in the habit of weighing and measuring the part when you add it to TPI. Its a bit more work up front but saves you time when you get the order.
2. Buy shipping supplies, like boxes, packing tape, and/or pallets. This doesn’t cost a lot but will save you a ton of time hunting for shipping materials.
3. Figure out who you will use to ship. See the sales rep, talk about pricing. Try a few shipments.
4. Our customers add shipping to the prices they charge. Some even mark up the shipping a few percent to make up for packaging the product. On larger items they charge for pallets and other prep for the parts.
5. Its best to stay away from shipping to other countries until you get the basics down. When you ship to other countries its better to ship smaller parts and use DHL or UPS. They do the customs clearing for you although there may be more forms to fill out.

Remember you may get a few shipments back. Use these as a learning source to ask better questions on orders you ship. After you get the basics down, train someone else to manage shipping. This allow you to move to another area of the business.

What Exactly Are Cores and Why Is There a Charge For Them?

When automotive parts are manufactured, there are components that can later be recycled even when the rest of the part no longer works. These recyclable parts are called the “core” and suppliers will generally include a deposit on them when a new or remanufactured part is sold.

If you have bought a part to replace one that no longer works and if there is a core in this part, you will probably have to pay a core charge when you buy the replacement part. The core charge is like a deposit, and if you bring back the core from the original part, you will recieve your deposit back. It’s that simple.

Core charges are used as a way to encourage recycling. Just like the deposit you might pay on a tin can for a drink will encourage you to return the can to a recycling center to get your deposit back, so too will a core charge encourage you to return the recyclable component of a part so that it can also be reused. If the original core was so damaged that it is no longer useful, then you won’t get your core back. But if it is still in good working condition and meets the shop’s criteria, then you should be fine.

And remember: the core deposit is paid for with your money. It might require some extra effort to bring it to the shop, but it is financially worth it in the end.

Artificial Intelligence and Its Place in our World

In May of 2016, the then-startup Otto had a self-driving semi-truck travel 120 miles on a Colorado freeway to deliver 2 000 cases of beer. Uber bought Otto in August of that year, and, together with Volvo, has been working on technology for self-driving vehicles since then. In late 2017, Uber quietly started running its small fleet of self-driving semis on Arizona highways and, in early March of this year, it officially inaugurated Uber Freight, its service using these trucks.

Then, on March 18, an autonomous Uber test car killed a pedestrian at a crosswalk in Arizona. Uber immediately cancelled all of its testing in various cities, and on March 26, Arizona banned Uber vehicles from its roads. According to Arizona’s governor, Uber had not put citizen safety as a priority and would no longer have the right to test in the state.

Tragically enough, there had been a “safety driver” in the car at the time who was supposed to oversee what was happening and take over in case of an emergency. Uber’s self-driving trucks also have a licensed truck driver on board for the same reasons. In this instance, the artificial intelligence that powered the vehicles was not advanced enough to operate with complete autonomy, and so a human presence is still required. We are still a ways off then from entirely self-sufficient vehicles operated by artificial intelligence, but not that far. Human fatalities cannot be a part of the testing process, but while we wait for the technology to be improved and regulations to be considered, we do need to ask ourselves what we are getting into. What exactly is artificial intelligence, and what will its impact be?

Artificial intelligence (or AI) is a term that describes the concept of machines, in particular computer systems, displaying intellectual characteristics typical of humans. Reasoning, voice recognition, decision making, and learning from past experience are all examples of abilities which have been developed in AI.

AI has reached a certain level of sophistication that is making a broader integration of its technology into our daily lives more of a reality and less science fiction. However, what we don’t always realize is that we are already living with certain applications of the technology and some of it for quite some time. Let’s take a look at a few examples here:

Autopilot: In 1903, the Wright brothers had their first sustained flight of just under a minute. Commercial flying took some time to really take off (pun intended) but auto pilot did not. In 1914, Lawrence Sperry demonstrated the first device that would allow a plane to fly on its own, and since then the principles of the system have been the basis for most autopilots in use. It is estimated that in most longer-haul commercial flights, a pilot is “hands on” for approximately seven minutes only, which is roughly the time needed for take off and landing. The rest of the flight is conducted through autopilot.

Google Maps: the suggested routes of Google Maps are based on an instantaneous analysis of location data from smartphones as well as user-reported traffic incidents such as construction and accidents.

Siri: when you ask Siri a question and she answers back, a highly sophisticated system of voice recognition and speech analysis is it work. Your speech enters the computer and is compared against a statistical model to estimate which letters you may have used in order to determine roughly which ones were vowels or consonants. Based on this, your speech is run through a language model that will estimate the words spoken, and the computer (through Siri) will then give you a list of possible interpretations. Once you say which interpretation is correct, Siri will respond with an answer.

In these examples, a computer has been programmed to analyze all sorts of different data sets and then choose an action (auto pilot), make a decision (best possible route on Google Maps), or understand and respond to a spoken query, giving a list of choices (Siri, who also happens to be very polite). All of these responses to a problem require reasoning, consideration, and analysis, and it is all done instantaneously.

Very soon, the once-futuristic seeming idea of a self driving car will become reality. There is already AI that is able to perform certain kinds of legal analysis at an intermediate level. It has entered into the financial realm, plowing through data and offering up different strategies based on stated goals. AI has clearly reached a point of advanced comprehensive ability with a knowledge base deep enough to use as reference. The depth of its capabilities is astonishing, and its presence in different aspects of our daily lives will only continue to grow.

5 School Bus Facts

Did you know that:

  1.  It was in 1886 that a man named Wayne Works started to produce horse-drawn carriages called “school hacks”?   In 1914, when the automotive industry began to boom, Works saw an opportunity and motorized his carriages, creating the first vehicle specifically for school transportation.
  2. Before the 1920’s, school buses had cloth curtains instead of glass windows?
  3. School buses are yellow because the colour is especially visible in the early morning and evening light, exactly when children are using the buses and when visibility is lower?
  4. School buses have no seat belts because they have what is known as “passive protection”?  In the 1970’s, governments took a hard look at the design of the buses and decided that, in the best interests of children, it was better to remove the belts but reconfigure the overall design of the buses to make them safer.  The seats themselves have high padded backs and seats, and are a specific distance apart.  They are also designed to collapse at a certain rate in the event of a collision.  The bus windows have also been taken into consideration, with a size that will allow for easier evacuation.
  5. The yellow school bus is a very North American tradition?  Other countries use yellow buses as well, but there is a lot of variation due to differences in culture, laws and climate.  Take a look at some international school buses below:

This one is a Pickachu bus from Japan:

This one is from South Korea:

This one could actually be found in certain parts of the United States, where children need to get across frozen bodies of water to get to school:

This is from El Salvador:

And this water bus comes from the state of Bahia in Brazil:

 

Straight-up Advice on Getting Organized

No matter what kind of business you run, there are two elements that are key to any success, and yet often times these two things are the most overlooked and undervalued.  We’re talking about organization and communication, and they shouldn’t be taken lightly.  You can have the best business idea in the world, but if you don’t have these two things once your business is up and running, you’re going to nosedive fast.  We’re going to talk here about one way that organization and communication can work hand-in-hand to give your work a foundation.

The organization of your business needs to include a set of systems and routines that are used every day, by everyone all the way from Management to Maintenance.  These systems and routines are commonly called Standard Operating Procedures (or SOPs) and they act like a backbone for the day-to-day functioning of your business.  Once you have these SOPs in place, you need to communicate them to everyone involved.  Let’s take a look at the Why, How and Who of SOPs:

Why

  1.  SOPs create organization, organization creates clarity, clarity creates more space for focused, productive thinking;
  2. Employee satisfaction is higher because people know what they are doing and why.  There is an external, objective reference point that creates stability and can help guide decisions;
  3. Efficiency is enhanced because less time is wasted trying to find random solutions for problems that have already been identified and solved;
  4. Less time wasted = greater productivity = higher profits.  Sounds good to us.

How

  1. Study your current tasks in all departments, establish the most efficient routines for accomplishing them, and document everything;
  2. Implement these routines through direct communication and training;
  3. Ensure that all current employees are given sufficient time to absorb the information and keep up-to-date on their progress
  4. Create a training program for all new employees that is thorough and consistent, with everyone being exposed to the same information so that there are no gaps in knowledge.

Who

  1. Everyone in the company needs to participate in the actual use of the SOPs, including the Owner/President, etc.  If certain people skip over the SOPs, others will start to follow their lead and you won’t have the effect you want;
  2. Management or Human Resources creates the SOPs with input from employees with regard to specific tasks and how best to accomplish them;
  3. Remaining receptive to employee suggestions after SOPs have been implemented helps to ensure compliance and respect for the procedures because they then perceive themselves and their experience as integral to the functioning of the company.

Putting together a set of SOPs might feel a bit daunting, but the time you spend now in creating this framework will be more than recuperated later in terms of different efficiencies, clarity and employee satisfaction.  SOPs are a highly effective, practical tool for organization, and when they are communicated well and with consistency, they can add great value to your business in many different ways.

TPI and incremental change

In our last blog post, we talked about how maintaining small, positive changes over a period of time can bring about solid returns.  The idea of achieving a goal doesn’t seem overwhelming when we look at it this way, and we are more likely to maintain our progress as we are not being asked for monumental, superhuman efforts every single day.

As we also pointed out, it helps to discontinue certain small, negative behaviours that, over the long run, add up to fairly substantial impediments or growth-negaters.  For example, if you are chronically late to work everyday by ten minutes and don’t make up that time anywhere else, you will eventually lose a sizable chunk of time.  Over the course of three months, you’re looking at 12.5 hours.  That’s quite a bit.  On top of that, you are probably not starting your day off with a clear mind because you are rushed, stressed, and the space in your brain is taken up with a whole range of negative feelings because you are late.  There’s not much space left for healthy, productive, positive behaviours.  If you turn this around, however, and start arriving 10 minutes early, then you will be giving yourself the gift of an easily-found extra 12.5 hours over three months PLUS a mind that is less-stressed and calmer, more able to start the day successfully.

With these ideas in mind, a challenge you can set yourself involves two things:

  1.  Which behaviours, actions or improvements can you begin including in your day that might seem small but are actually important?  For example, I really don’t like looking at my bank balance on a regular basis (even when I’m doing okay) just because I dread finding out that I am in worse shape than I thought.  In the times that I have been able to get into the habit of checking my balance daily (ideally in the morning), I have been able to plan correctly and save myself from being overdrawn or slowly chewing away at my bank account through unnecessary transactions.  At times, I have been able to hold onto cash for emergencies that have arisen, or even invested it somewhere.  That is always a positive thing.
  2. The flip-side of this is what kinds of small, negative, perhaps lazy habits can you eliminate over a period of time in order to end up with a positive result?  A classic example is take-away coffee.  Going to your local coffee shop every morning on the way to work and getting a latte starts to add up.  Take-out coffee on its own can easily reach an extra $100/month, and in order to eliminate this cost, you just need to set up the habit of making enough coffee for yourself at home before you leave the house.  Setting up a new habit and breaking an old one can seem like a tall order at times, but if we actually give ourselves that time to get used to things, we will be successful (and, in this case, a little bit richer).

In both of these cases, finding different things to change involves seeing where you are already doing something well, and adding one more positive behaviour to it, or, seeing where you’re doing something that ends up being a negative and eliminating.  In both cases, it’s just a matter of taking some time and analyzing basic behaviours.

With TPI, there are also ways that our system can help you, in small, incremental amounts to achieve greater profit and success.  Once you are up and running with the system and have gotten used to the different basic functions, you can start branching out and taking a look at some different features.  Here are a couple that are entirely beneficial when implemented as regular, rapid routines.

  1.  Truck Model Profitability:  in the Sellers’ Account Settings, go to Profit and then Reports.  From there, you go to Inventory and then to Truck Model Profitability.  This report quickly tells you which models are selling the best and it is a quick visual snapshot that, if you look at it regularly, will help you direct your future purchases on a consistent basis.  
  2. Missed Sales:  a technical explanation of how to use this feature is on our support site, but essentially it is a handy way to track what kind of items you might want to start including in your inventory if there seems to be a demand for them.  Like the Truck Model Profitability feature, Missed Sales can be easily fit into a morning routine to help orient the days and your purchases.
  3. TPI is full of many different features, and most of them can be quick and easy to use.  Take a look at this blog post and this one, and you will have a handy set of twenty new ideas that can help you get where you want to go, faster.

Overall, using TPI is quick and easy, and even it’s most basic features will help you save time simply by being more organized and systematic.  Adding in any of the different features we have mentioned here will only increase your profitability as you maintain a closer relationship with what is actually happening and can make better decisions for the future.  We encourage you to implement features one by one, and you’ll start to see a difference in a very short period of time.

Five August Fun Facts

Ah yes, August.  That month when the weather is just a bit warmer, the days are still a bit longer, and you don’t really feel like doing much (so, naturally, you don’t :)).  It’s a month for travelling, hanging out, enjoying friends and family and watching wistfully as the calendar ticks its way inevitably towards the return to school and other responsibilities.  In honour of the last kick at the summer can that is the month of August, we have put together here a list of five fun facts about the month of August.  We were surprised at how interesting the month actually was and continues to be!  Take a peek:

  1.  August got its name in 8 BC from the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, who ruled the Latin roost from 27 BC until he died in AD 14;
  2. Famous birthdays celebrated in August include Barack Obama, Hulk Hogan, Ben Affleck, Robert DeNiro and Cal Ripken Jr.;
  3. On August 3, 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain;
  4. On August 16, 1977, a date that many will remember, Elivs Presley died at the age of 42;
  5.  This year, on August 4, we’ll be saying “Bottoms up!” in honour of International Beer Day, which happens to fall on the first Friday of the month.  How’s that for good timing?

Oh, and by the way, August is also International Peach Month, so enjoy those lovely fruits as much as you can, especially if you’re in Georgia!