Apprenticeship Week 10

How has it been another week? Less than a week since my last post, even! And I turn 19 in two days!

Projects This Week

I got back into the swing of things and I’m getting motivated again! I had a rough couple weeks but I’m coming back with a vengeance – towards obstacles to getting work done.

APS Rep Project

This week I made some good progress on the project Josh assigned. I described some of the specifics of the project in the posts about the previous couple of weeks.
Each day I’ve been dealing with new incoming emails from the various reps. This allows me to keep the visit log up to date so it can be used for decision making as far as which reps to keep. As per Josh, that’s why we’re logging all the visits. Which makes sense. We get a monthly report from each rep for the market they manage, but if we can see at a glance how many visits they made as well as how much money they made us, we can make better decisions. I make sure to stay on top of the incoming emails so when I finish the old emails I can manage the project instead of being constantly behind.
I feel like I’m drowning in the project now, but I don’t want to stay drowning when I should learn to swim. Additionally, when it comes time for someone else to take over the project for any reason if there’s only upkeep, it will be far easier and more seamless.

I finished going through the emails for another rep. I still have a lot of markets to go through. I made a graph/checklist thing to help me stay motivated by having a visualization of my progress on the current phase of the project. It’s maybe silly, but filling in a little box for what month the emails were from when I finish going through them is satisfying. I plan to make more graph/checklists for the next phases of the project, too, since it’s helping with this one.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I have a notebook with three sections, lined, blank, and graph. I should take it to work. Once I use up the legal pad I currently have it could be useful to have the graph paper and the lined paper.

Writing Projects

I’ve been using Blurt to write. It’s a really awesome tool. It has word-processor features but it’s built to be a place that facilitates writing. You can blur the words so you can’t read what you’ve written until you’ve finished writing, which can help you keep your brain in create-mode and prevent you from switching to editing mode. This task switching can kill creativity and make writing so much harder than it needs to be. If you can’t keep it from happening yourself, using the blur feature could be a game changer. (There’s also a free website that just blurs your writing while you write so you can’t edit it.) Then when you’re done writing, you can turn on the editing help, which points out sentences that may be difficult, words that could be overly complicated, adverbs, and passive voice. (If you want this feature for free, try Hemingway Editor.) I like that you can set writing goals for various projects and have email reminders to write on every writing day.

I’ve made three projects in Blurt.
One of them is for blog posts, and right now the goal is every Friday. Every day I write 500 words in this project, I reach my writing goal and add to my writing streak. Any Friday I don’t write, my streak resets to zero.
The other projects are my personal journal and the novel I just started. Both of those are set to daily goals. I have to write every day for the streak count to go up, and any day I miss resets the count. Today will be day 5 for my journal and new novel, and day 2 for blog posts.
I’ve started tracking my daily writing, because Blurt tracks the days I met my goal but not how many words I wrote on previous days. So far I’ve written over 5000 words since Monday!

Conclusion

I had a rough couple weeks, but things are looking up. I’m starting to form good writing habits, and based on past experience that will pick up into an upswing of good habits in other areas too. I’m making progress on my work projects and tracking it to keep myself motivated. Motivation has been most of my trouble recently, and I have it again.

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.

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.

Being Wrong but Useful

Alyssa Wright reflects on how creating value and being right don’t always align. Beliefs shape lives, but the utility of those beliefs is often more important than their truth.

We all want to be right, to have a true understanding and right perspective on the world around us. We look around at different perspectives that clash with our own and think those people are ignorant, stupid, or evil. We look into the past and see all the times people were wrong and laugh at how stupid they were.

But in the future, people will look back and laugh at us and how stupid we are. Are, as in right now in this current moment. We are wrong about a lot of things, and don’t even know it. Probably a majority of what we believe to be true isn’t.

In some cases, our wrong beliefs have a functionality. If they have enough sense, they cohere with the rest of our understanding of the world. In science, models are simplifications of reality. In the past, models for atoms were incorrect or an oversimplification. But in high school chemistry class we still learn about Bohr’s model of the atom before we learn about the more complex, more current models. Because there’s a usefulness in the wrongness. The model is inaccurate, but it helps simplify the concept so it is comprehensible.

For this post, I’m drawing from two videos. “On being wrong,” a TED talk by Kathryn Shulz, and “You have no idea how wrong you are,” a video I watched during Praxis last month.

We’re wrong, a lot. Kathryn Shulz said in her talk, “Being wrong feels like being right.” And it does, until or unless we realize we’re wrong. But in the realm of religion or philosophy or etiquette or any number of other things, we will never know if or that we’re wrong. We can change our minds, sure, and think we used to be wrong in what we believed, but we can’t know.

For example, I don’t believe in any god or gods. But a lot of people do. I used to. I don’t know if I’m right or if some of the people who believe in a god or gods are right. I could very easily be wrong. They could very easily be wrong. Everyone is probably wrong. And we’ll never know what’s right. But what we believe is right shapes our lives.

That most of what we think and believe is true doesn’t entirely matter. Most of it is probably wrong. Whether it works and makes sense in relation to what we know and understand of the world matters. Though most of our understanding is probably very wrong. But it works, just like Bohr’s model of the atom. It has a utility.

When we can relate to the world and to each other in a way that makes sense and use that relation to create value, we can succeed. Even if a decade, or century, or millennium from now people look back and think we’re stupid for how wrong we are. If it works and we can use it to create value and improve people’s lives, including our own, we’ve succeeded.

How right we are doesn’t matter. How much value we can create does.

First Value Prop

The details of Alyssa Wright’s first value prop, for Fundera.

Last week I created my first value prop for Fundera. They’re a business that helps other businesses get funding, make financial decisions, and learn about running or starting a business.

I wrote on my blog about learning SEO to write an article for them. I also learned about crowdfunding to dissect the pros and cons of using it. Both of those articles can be found here.

I had a lot of fun writing those two articles for Fundera. I learned a lot about SEO and crowdfunding, and I pushed myself to write quality articles in a short amount of time. I did all my research and all my writing for those two 1500+ word articles in only ten days total.

It was a bit stressful at times, but I pushed through to completion.

This week I’m working on my second value prop. I’ll share the details on that next week.