Apprenticeship Week 5

It’s been a month and two days at my new job!

Current Projects:

I’m still working on adding Kayce’s old call notes to the Salespad CRM tab. I’m almost caught up with when she sent it to me.

Yesterday we had a meeting and next week Josh is going to show me APS so I can make sure all our contact information is up to date. We’re looking to expand our marketing efforts to include an email list, and I’ll be helping get the necessary information to make that possible.

Things I Learned:

Don’t convey uncertainty to the customer! We can figure out details on the back-end to ensure a great experience for the customer. We should not give them reason to doubt what we’re saying.

I had one call with a customer where I was explaining why we issue parts on a Net30. I mentioned that part of that was to make any returns easier. This made the customer uncertain about using our parts. Going forward I didn’t mention that and only said it was to make things as easy and smooth as possible for the bodyshop.

In a different call I mentioned that we LTL some engine cradles because of the weight. Herb told me to tell the customer we could get it to them 2nd day like our website promises and we can pay more for shipping to meet that if necessary.

Apprenticeship Week 3

It’s already been three weeks that I’ve worked at Original One Parts.

Projects this Week

Early in the week I finished the Hubspot/Salespad project I was assigned my first week. I have no more paperwork from old orders to deal with!

After I finished that, I was asked to sort a spreadsheet with all of our part numbers and descriptions indicating the type of part it is. Ever single item sku and number code was listed. I had to delete all but one of each letter code and change the description to just have the part that letter code refers to. There were over 1000 rows in the sheet initially and now there are fewer than 200. They were also all in lowercase, so I learned how to use =upper, =lower, and =proper in Excel to change that.

The next day, I was assigned a spreadsheet of Kayce’s previous calls to go through. I have to add the date, her initials, and her call notes to the Salespad CRM tab. When I finish this it’s possible I’ll do the same for old daily call logs but I’m not sure.

Things I Learned this Week

I’ve gotten more comfortable answering the phone and feel confident in doing so. This week I learned how to get information to process a return, pay an invoice, and send pictures of surplus parts.

Other Updates

Thursday on my way home from work traffic was backed up and it was very stop and go. I stopped in an exit lane to get from one highway to another, and the car behind me didn’t slow down fast enough. I got rear ended. No one got hurt, but the front of their car got bent up pretty bad, and my rear end needs replaced and the exhaust is rubbing.

I didn’t go in Friday so I could talk to my insurance company and the body shop that will be handling my repairs.

Next week because of Memorial Day I will be working Tuesday through Friday.

Apprenticeship Week 2

Yesterday I finished my second week at Original One Parts!

Learning Inbound Calls

This week I started learning how to take inbound calls.

Monday I read the training material but didn’t actually answer the phone. Tuesday I took my first couple calls. Wednesday through Friday I took more calls and got more comfortable. I still have a lot to learn but I’ve learned from listening to the rest of the team take and make calls and taking some calls myself.

I was not walked through our process for recording the calls we take, but I figured it out. Tuesday and Wednesday I hadn’t been told I needed to put the calls I take on the log, but Thursday and Friday I realized it’s a great way to show my work in addition to it being important for the team.

We put in our initials, the name of the person who called, the insurance company they’re associated with (if it’s an insurance company rep calling us), the part they called about, the price of that part, and any notes from the call.

Hubspot and Salespad Account Information Project

I continued last week’s project of going through old orders and updating accounts in Hubspot and Salespad accordingly. I’m almost finished going through the previous sales team member’s papers to complete this project.

When I find duplicate accounts in Salespad, which happens frequently, I was emailing Tim, who is able to merge them. There’s a high volume, though, and sometimes he is unable to merge accounts because they’re both/all connected to CCC (a parts ordering platform) and have different ID numbers. To make it easier for him to see what needs done and keep track of what’s been merged and what the new account numbers are, I made a spreadsheet. I have the company name, the new account number, the accounts that need merged, and a spot for notes about the accounts or why they can’t be merged if they can’t.

Other Places I See to Create Value

I found out this week that our marketing “team” is just Kyle. He was working in the sales office some this week and I learned that he gets anything somewhat marketing related put on his plate and he’s the whole department. Once I master my position and am great at taking inbound calls and possibly starting to learn outbound calls, I want to leverage myself to take up some of Kyle’s extra work. I wanted to find a marketing position for my apprenticeship and this could be a good way to get my feet wet and start learning while also freeing up Kyle to do more of his more important tasks.

Apprenticeship Week 1

Monday was my first day at in my new role at Original One Parts! I’m on inbound sales and data entry and I learned a lot about the company from working closely with the rest of the sales team.

My first week was crazy.

Monday I was logged in as a recently-moved-on sales team member. I had my own email address but it was a while before I had a login for the software we use – SalesPad and PartsTrader. So I spent most of my first day watching the Friday Fast Facts videos on the company’s Youtube channel, looking around the website, and practicing the PartsTrader orders on my manager Herb’s computer. After lunch I received login information for SalesPad and PartsTrader so I was able to work on my own a bit more.
PartsTrader is a website that car repair shops use to source refurbished, recycled, and OEM parts for their customers’ vehicles. Original One Parts is a supplier of refinished OEM parts. They’re parts that have previously been on vehicles, but we have a rigorous inspection process to ensure they’re the same quality as the original. Then we put a new finish on the part so it looks brand new. Our customers request quotes for parts, which go through automatically, and put in orders for parts.
When they put in an order for a part through PartsTrader, I check the VIN and the part number for a match with our customer service portal. Once I know I have a match, I pull up the repair shop in SalesPad, check that we have the part in stock, and write the invoice.
Between the PartsTrader orders, I learned how to enter information about contacts and companies in Hubspot and SalesPad so we have a database of our customers. I also figured out on my own how to merge duplicate companies in Hubspot, because that is a common problem with the information we have on Hubspot.

Tuesday I was set up with my own login to the computer instead of the old team member’s. I didn’t have SalesPad on my desktop at all. So I spent a few hours just working on updating the information in Hubspot from printed out copies of previous orders. After I got set up with SalesPad I caught up with the PartsTrader orders.
This was the first day I had a problem. I ran into some surplus parts on orders. These vary a lot more than other parts, so we typically send the customer pictures to verify that it is correct and they’re okay with the condition. I put an order through for a surplus part without knowing this. One of my coworkers, Kayce, informed me and then called the customer at my desk so I could listen in.

Wednesday I mastered processing orders from a different platform called CCC. These come in already partially invoiced, so I have to check for the part in the inventory and fill out the shipping information.
I had the first order on PartsTrader that I had to cancel because we didn’t have the part in stock. Herb had me listen in on a call to the customer letting them know that we were canceling their PartsTrader order for (part) on (vehicle) because we didn’t have any in stock.
I made a lot of progress on the customer details I was entering on Hubspot and SalesPad. I almost finished the file folder I was working through.

Thursday I finished the first stack of paperwork. Then it turned out all the other papers in the desk drawer were the same thing and I have a heck of a lot more still. I didn’t run into any problems that I remember. It went really well and I got a lot done.

Today, Friday, I had more than half the sales for the day! I had one order for two mirrors on a Chevy Tahoe that was around $650! We were slower and the other sales team members were not having much luck with their outbound sales calls.
The best part of the day was when Herb called one lady and she said she was going to transfer him to the voicemail of the person he needed to talk to. She transferred him to her own voicemail!

My first week was crazy. I learned a lot and got a lot of work done. Monday morning I’m going to show up and kick some more butt.

Learning the Digital Design Tool Easil

Alyssa Wright shares her experience learning Easil and the fun she’s had with the tool over the last two days.

For this week’s value prop, I’m designing social media posts. I was initially planning to learn and use Canva, but was turned off by the price barrier. I did a search for free alternatives and found Easil.

For the moment, I’m actually not using the free version. I have a free trial of their premium with all the advanced features that includes.

The tool has a quick, simple tutorial to explain the basic functions. Beyond that, it was easy for me to figure out how to do what I wanted.

At first I built off of their templates. The first image I created I didn’t even change the background image. After that, though, I changed the images, the text, often the fonts. If I used a template it was for a specific element that I knew how to create myself but could save time by not.

Yesterday my blog post was “Robin Hood’s First Theft,” a short narrative poem I wrote in January 2015. In only 20 minutes, I found an image on Pexels that I liked to represent Robin Hood and created a storybook cover for the poem. If you follow the hyperlink at the beginning of the paragraph you can see that image.

I’ve had a lot of fun making graphics for this value prop and for my blog. I’ve temporarily taken a step back from writing for Over the Invisible Wall, but I’m going to make the images for the blog posts in addition to continuing to help edit. The first one will be up tomorrow, so be sure to visit the blog to read the new post and check that out!

Exploring SEO

I’m just learning about SEO and will be updating my website and sharing what I’m learning very soon.

Yesterday and today I started introducing myself to SEO. It seems more and less complicated than I anticipated.

The concepts are simple, keywords, quality up-to-date content, backlinks, website loading speed, the amount of time people spend on your site.

Harnessing them, though, is more complicated.
To that end, I watched a couple videos about tools, both free and paid, that allow you to analyze your website’s performance. From that analysis, you can improve and get more traffic to your website, rank higher in Google, and see what content should be updated or deleted.

I will be curating a playlist of the internet marking and SEO videos I’m learning from on my Youtube channel. If you want to learn along with me, be sure to check that out here.

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring SEO and implementing it here. This won’t just help me, it will improve your experience on my site. I’ll be creating more of the content that you and others want to see by using SEO strategies.

Focusing on Projects

I can be very easily distracted. But I can also sit and write for hours without realizing.

I start the day with a list of activities I need to do. I set out exactly what I plan to accomplish with the day at the beginning so I know how to spend my time. The specific amounts of time on each task isn’t important, it’s crossing each item off the list by the end of the day.

I keep a glass of water at my desk. I take care of my physical needs, then I get to work. I think only of the writing.

I sit down to write my blog post and I think. Even when I have an idea, I take a moment to think about it before writing anything. I don’t jump in immediately.

I stare at the blank page, let it stare back at me before writing words. They don’t have to be the right words, they don’t have to be organized, they just need to get on the page. I can fix them later.

I can’t go from blank page to masterpiece if I never start writing.

At first, I have to force myself to write. I force out a few sentences before I get into the flow. I have to get in the “zone,” that place of mental concentration if I want to build momentum. For a blog post draft, I might need only about thirty minutes.

Once I cut out distractions, I get to writing. I put one word after another, and keep going. I think about what comes next and the overall message. I pour out words until I reach the conclusion. I don’t look at the clock to see how long it took. I work to silence and the clacking of my keyboard or the scratch of my pen on paper.

I try to write as long as I can without a break. Sometimes that means staring at the page trying to find the words.

For a longer project I work as long as I can, then take a short break. If I can’t finish that in one go that’s fine. What matters is I put in the work and got in the zone.

I cut the distractions I can control. I make sure I’m awake and need nothing. I stare at the tauntingly blank page, then force myself to write until I’m not forcing it. My thoughts hone in on the the work and topic at hand. The words start to flow and I get in the zone. I make it last as long as possible or as long as needed.

Then I take a break and come back to do it again.