Apprenticeship Week 12

Alyssa shares an update of the work she’s done over the last week.

It’s been another week somehow. It does not seem like it should be week 12 of my apprenticeship, either. I’m already almost to then end of three months, which is halfway. Wow! I knew time would fly but I was not prepared for it to fly this fast.

Projects

Over the past week I’ve continued working on the myriad projects I’ve been discussing in the last couple of posts.

Work/Original One Parts

APS reps/Action Alerts

I have been working on the APS rep/action alert project for five weeks now. It is tedious and often dreadfully dull, but I’m slogging through it. I’ve kept up with the incoming emails, and I’m slowly making progress through the old morning emails.
I want to say “soon I’ll be moving on to the action alert part of the project and just manage the morning emails.” But I have a long way to go. I’m focusing on the emails from February to June because those are the ones I have to log the number of shop visits for. Once I get through those, I’ll only have to update the market databases to include all the shops visited. There’s still so many steps to this project. I’m making progress, but it’s going to take a long time to finish the first step. And then I have another part of the project that I haven’t even started on.

Other Work Things

As far as other things go, I’m more efficient at processing online orders. I always process orders in exactly the same way.

  • For Parts Trader orders, I pull up the shop account in Salespad using the zip code and open the invoice window under that account.
  • Then I put the VIN in the invoice notes, then I put it in our customer service portal so I can check the parts being ordered.
  • I put my initials into the invoice sales rep box, select the correct shipping method, the platform, and the insurance company.
  • Before I go under the vehicle in the customer service portal to verify the part fitment, I copy the vehicle year, make, and model information into the invoice notes.
  • Then I put the PO or RO into that section of the invoice.
  • I run the sku number through Salespad’s inventory function to make sure we have the part and see if it’s in the St. Louis or Dallas warehouse. Depending on where the shop is, sometimes I want to see if I can send it out of Dallas, other times I have to send it out of Dallas. As long as we have the part, I proceed. If we don’t have the part, I skip the rest and call the shop to tell them I’m rejecting the order on Parts Trader and why.
  • I then add the sku to the invoice and save it.
  • Then I check the contact name as listed on Parts Trader. I use that when I add the order to the daily sales log.
  • After I add it to the sales log, I confirm the order on Parts Trader, and move on to the next order or task I have to complete.

I follow a similar process for the CCC and eBay orders, too. There’s some different particular steps based on the platform, but it’s always the same. Doing it the same way every time allows me to be as efficient as possible so I can move on to other tasks.

Freelancing

I opened a gig last week on Fiverr for proofreading/editing/constructive criticism. I haven’t been hired. I’m going to do some research to learn how other people got started freelancing on Fiverr. That might help me get the gig to take off. I tried offering a special deal to Praxis participants, but that went nowhere. I’m planning to offer a deal to people who follow me on social media in exchange for a review afterwards, but I haven’t initiated it yet.I’m also considering opening a gig to organize other people’s poetry collections. I might hold off until I finish the new poetry collection I started, though, just to not juggle my personal projects and freelance projects any more than I have to.

Personal

I separated this from the freelancing projects/progress because while, yes, freelancing is a personal project, it’s also something I’m trying to start professionally. This category is everything else.

Poetry Collection

I did a little bit of work on my upcoming poetry collection this week. I added about six or seven more poems to the Google doc. I still have two notebooks to sort through and a Google doc I started writing poetry in.

New Novel

I’ve written about every other day in the novel I started and every day in the journal I’m writing in Blurt. I’ve learned a lot more about a few of the side characters and started to get some ideas for more scenes. I have more material to draw on for inspiring more scenes, some of which I might not write from the perspective of the main character. I ran into a writing prompt that was something like, “write about the happiest day of your life,” so I’m having all of the characters do that. I learn more about the character, their voice, and I get to have fun with it! It can be anything. Even if it doesn’t make it into the novel, I’ll have a collection of every characters’ best day.

Apprenticeship Week 8

I’m constantly amazed by how long I’ve been in my apprenticeship. It’s the end of June already?
Crazier still, my birthday is in two weeks, so I’m almost 19! It’s almost time for another post reflecting on the past year, like I did when I started my blog last July. Tuesday marks this blog’s anniversary.
I have two months at Original One Part, 10 months into my Praxis experience, two days shy of a year blogging, and two weeks shy of 19 years I’ve been alive.

Projects This Week

Last week Josh assigned me a project tracking APS representative visits to body shops. I have to put reps’ recent visits in the sheet so we can see the average number of visits and decide which reps to keep and which reps are not worth the money. (The reps send month-end reports and do tracking with us to ensure we’re getting our money’s worth, too.)
Additionally, I have to make sure the account information is up to date in Salespad, Hubspot, and also listed in the market shop lists. In the spreadsheet document with the APS visits tracker, there are sheets with lists of all the bodyshops in that market that have or are being visited by the reps.
Right now I’m focusing on recording all of the visits from reps that are not already logged and ensuring every shop they visit is on the market shop list. Once that is complete it’ll be easier to go through Hubspot and Salespad and have up to date account information on all sides.
So far I’ve gotten through all the emails from three reps, excluding any emails that came in for this coming week. There’s still countless emails to go through and it’s crazy tedious.
There’s a second part of the project that I haven’t even started, Action Alerts. There’s a whole email folder to go through for that. I have to ask Josh what to do for that, because it’s unclear to me from looking at the emails what I’m supposed to do with them. I still have so much of the first part that I haven’t talked to Josh about this yet.

Challenges This Week

On Tuesday our systems went down for a couple hours. We couldn’t use Salespad or the customer service portal, and the program on Parts Trader that does our auto quoting went down. We had to manually write quotes on Parts Trader using the inventory from our website. The phones still worked, so we had to use old order history to get pricing for people over the phone. We couldn’t give Ted, the warehouse manager, hand written or printed our orders because he couldn’t find the parts to pull with his scanner. Once everything was back up I had three or four orders to put in from Parts Trader, and total we had about fifteen orders go in the log all at once.

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.

Communication and Respect in the Workplace

I was scheduled 7-4 today. Or so I thought. My schedule was changed to 11-3 without notice.

I get paid to be at Panera and do a range of tasks. I don’t choose when to be there. The managers make the schedule and I stick to it. But I need to know if my hours are going to change.

To switch shifts, I have to talk to my coworkers and have a manager sign off on the change. We give notice of who will be at work when.

But I was not told my schedule had changed.

I got up in time to get ready and be at work 5-10 minutes early. I walk in and my manager tells me that the schedule was changed, I have to leave and come back in four hours.

I had to waste my time and money because I was not told my hours changed.

I’ve been very frustrated by this today, and it makes me more aware how important it is to not waste people’s time.

Navigating Relationships with Co-Workers

In service jobs, the only thing as important or possibly more important than customer service is teamwork. This has been especially true at Panera Bread where the team is far smaller than at Walmart.

The customers change, but you will be working with the same handful of people day in and day out, so it’s vital that you can work together.

The Non-Worker

The only case I would say feels actually impossible is the co-worker who absolutely refuses to pull their weight. They pretend to work and do small things when the managers are watching, but they don’t do much else. This co-worker puts undue pressure on everyone else to get the work done. Never be this person. Everyone will hate working with you and you will likely get fired.

The Joker

Jokes at work can be great. You get paid to spend a block of time doing a certain set of tasks. Making it more enjoyable helps the time pass and can make the day a little better. Knowing when to stop joking is important. Understanding the difference between funny and annoying as well as what that is to who you’re working with matters. The person who loves to joke all day can either make a shift amazing or dreadful. The people and the jokes involved make the difference.

The Utility Player

I jump around to different “zones” on line. If I’m on sandwiches but have no sandwiches to make, I see if the salad person could use help or if any soups need poured. I don’t isolate myself to my bar and only do that. If someone could use help or if I don’t have anything to do, I jump in to get the food made faster overall. Some other people at work do this also, and they’re great to work with. Teamwork is magnified when at least one person does what they can to help everyone do their best.

These are the three categories of workers that I’ve seen at Walmart or Panera. Shifts can be horrible, okay, or great. The job duties may be the same, but my co-workers make a lot of the difference.

First Day Back at Panera

I made the choice to return to Panera Bread and my old and new coworkers. Today was my first day back, in shiny new non-slip shoes.

A couple things changed since I was there last: The panini presses were replaced with stone grills similar to the toaster in Subway. But with fancy stone and pizza-oven-like paddles for pulling sandwiches out of them. New food items!

I was looking forward to my favorite sandwich from last fall, the turkey cranberry flatbread. I was so excited about getting to eat it again, only to find out that it isn’t on the menu! We do have a new ham sandwich and a new Cuban sandwich. I haven’t tried the ham sandwich yet. I had the Cuban sandwich with extra slices of the sweet and spicy pickles for dinner, and it was really good! The garlic mustard and the delayed effect of the pickles paired with ham, pulled pork, and Swiss cheese was delicious!

Talking about the menu items makes me think of an idea for a blog post or several. Working at Panera, I’ve learned the ins and outs of the ingredients as well as what flavor combinations pair well together, and delicious modifications to the regular items. If you’d like a guide to the menu, what I like, how I modify it and why, comment below! I’d love to know you’re interested.

I learned how to make the new sandwiches and use and clean the new grills. I also noticed problems with how some of the new people are doing their work and plan to set an example to work on improving things.

The problems:

(1) The mid-shifters weren’t flipping pans every day. We’re supposed to get new pans and move the ingredients from their current pans into the new pans and make sure they have a current label telling when they expire. I made sure all the pans were flipped today, and I will continue doing that everyday I work.

(2) No one marked when the grills were cleaned. After my coworker and I cleaned the grills, I wrote in the little box for Thursday “Both” so the closer tomorrow knows both grills were cleaned. The boxes for earlier in the week are all empty. Hopefully other people will start marking when and which grill they clean.

(3) No one else takes all the supports in the bars to be cleaned. When we close, we put all the pans in the bar into the pull-out refrigerated drawers beneath the bar. I take out all the supports, including the four on the outside edges, to the dishwasher to be cleaned. When I asked the dishwasher if he’d rinse the long bars for me, he said he could, but no one had ever done that before. I plan to suggest to the other workers that they do that as well to improve the cleanliness of the bars.

I had a great first day back at Panera, and I’m sure I’ll have a great day tomorrow too!

Comment below if you’d like a post about the Panera menu items and what your favorite menu item is!

Be sure to check out my Patreon. By becoming a patron you can get early access to blog posts, a free e-copy of Inside a Writer’s Head, or even a signed copy of the physical book!