Apprenticeship Week 13

Alyssa shares what she’s been working on this past week, both at work and outside it.

I mentioned in my post last week that I was halfway through my apprenticeship. I learned as a result of that one sentence that my blogs have not gone unnoticed. Herb asked if I was planning on leaving at the end of my apprenticeship. It was a fair question.While, yes, I am halfway through my Praxis apprenticeship, and only 11 weeks from graduating the program, I am not planning on finding a new job at that time. I’m slowly working towards my freelancing and general writing goals, but I also don’t see myself coming to the end of my apprenticeship learning all I can from my role at Original One Parts.

Projects

Original One Parts

I had that conversation with Herb, which was unexpected, but obviously not bad. For that reason, this week I want to look at the work I’m doing and some of the other places I’ve seen that I can create value and learn a lot.

APS Reps/Action Alerts

I’m still very much drowning in this project.I’ve logged all the visits and shops for July. I’m starting to log August. I finished June and most of May for one rep, and I’m halfway through June for all the reps.

I still haven’t even started the action alerts.

When the project needs managed and I’m not spending all of my time around calls and orders on it, I will count it as finished.

Other Work

On Thursday, Parts Trader stopped working. This time it wasn’t our autoquote system or on our end, it was Parts Trader. At first it was busier than normal, but manageable. In the afternoon it started piling up. When I left, there were nearly 400 overdue quotes. When Herb came in the next morning, there were over 1300. It was a huge mess, but once Parts Trader came back on and started working properly we were able to knock out the remaining quotes and get it back to normal.

Everyone else in the office was doing follow up calls to accounts who haven’t ordered in at least a couple months. I took care of some of the call backs. Herb assigned me to one customer who wanted a specific sales rep to talk to for parts.

I learned how to take wheel orders, and now I have the email of the person we go through to process those. I have to get information from the customer about the vehicle and the wheels to send to the guy who gets us the information about the price and if we can supply a wheel. Once I get the information about pricing and availability I call the customer back to let them know if we can supply the wheel and what their cost will be. For both of the requests I took, our price was too high, but I couldn’t go low enough because of our cost to get the wheels.

Potential Future Work

I mentioned in some previous posts that I want to help with some marketing work for Original One Parts. Kyle is the whole marketing team, and he’s talked about having too much to do and getting random work put on his plate. If I get to a point with my own work where it is possible, I want to take on some of Kyle’s excess work.

In that same vein, Herb was talking about how we should have different content for LinkedIn that is better for the business-work nature of the platform. He specifically said that articles about the automotive industry that connect to our business but are also informative for people working in the industry would be a good choice. That most definitely caught my attention, and when I catch up with the APS rep and action alert project, I plan on talking to Josh about writing articles for the company LinkedIn.

Personal

From July 8 to July 26 I wrote every day, then I also wrote July 31. All in all, I wrote 21,055 words from July 8 to July 31. That’s 24 days, giving me an average of just over 877 words per day. I’m hoping to beat that this month. So far I have 3584 and it’s only August 4. So far that’s an average of 896 and I haven’t finished my writing for today.

Poetry

I wrote a few poems over the last couple weeks, but I have been neglecting my poetry collection. I still need to add all of the poems into the document so I can start organizing them.

I want to be writing poetry every day, but I’ve only written anything 5 times from July 8 to August 3.

Adventures in Meldrick

This is the card game I am developing.

I paused working on this for a very long time, in favor of other projects. Then a close friend of mine was over a couple weeks ago and we were talking about some card design. She’s volunteered to help with some of the design work and she’s helped me beta test the game some too.

After we hung out and had been talking about it, I wanted to start working on the game again. I played the game with my younger brothers a couple times, introduced some new cards, and experimented with the rules to make the game more playable.

The main problem with the game right now is that it takes too long to finish. None of the games I played were ended because someone won, it was always because we ran out of time, someone got bored, etc. Before I can even think of publishing the game, I need it be realistically playable. I know some of what I need to do for that to be the case, but then I have to rigorously test it.

Freelancing

I have not been hired. The Fiverr gig is active, and I have views and page visits, but I haven’t had any customer communication.

I haven’t shared the gig again yet, which I am planning to do. I didn’t want too much of the content on my social media to be advertisements for the same gig.

I talked about starting a couple other gigs but I haven’t done it yet. I have two ideas:
1. Social media graphics for blog post featured images. The base package would be for an image sized for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The upgrades would include versions for more than just one platform.
2. Poetry collection organization. I have experience organizing and formatting a poetry collection from when I self-published Inside a Writer’s Head. I could help someone else do that for their collection. I’m holding this one for now because I want to finish the organization of my second poetry collection before I do someone else’s.

Conclusion

Life is, as always, moving at breakneck speed. There’s a lot happening, but I’m setting my pace to reach my goals in my own time – but also not in a procrastinating, wasteful manner.

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 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 7!

This was not supposed to come out before the post I’m writing about week 6/FEEcon. But here we are.Last week I only worked two days and the rest of the week was spent at or preparing for FEEcon. This week I worked about 8:40 or 8:45-5 and today I worked 8:40ish to 6.

Projects:

I have some work and “personal” projects happening this week and going forward.

Work:

Before I went to Atlanta I was assigned a project inputting old customer feedback into the Salespad CRM tab. There were probably close to 300 lines in the spreadsheet. Now there are about 10, all instances that I couldn’t find the account it went to. I searched using the name of the body shop first, but some, like Fender Mender, Caliber, Service King, and ABRA have too many shops to find with the main part of their name. Then I tried searching the invoices using the shop name and looking at the invoices from around the time of the feedback. Nothing matched. Everything that did match is up to date and recorded.

Today the main manager, Josh, showed me a new project he needs me to do. It’s massive and will take me quite a while to get through. He connected me to a folder in his inbox containing lists of shops that APS representatives visit in the various city-specific markets we’re targeting. I have to record the number of shops visited in the market on the specific day and update the information we have about each shop in the APS spreadsheet, Salespad, and Hubspot.

I’ve decided to tackle the project in what is hopefully as efficient a manner as possible.

  1. I sorted the emails by sender so I’m only dealing with a certain set of markets at a time. I check if it’s a days list or a weeks list of visits. I count the number of shops and divide by the days if necessary. I put the number(s) in the correct box(es) on the APS visit count sheet.
  2. Then I go to the sheet with the market’s shop list, find each of the shops from that email and check them against Salespad for information. I’m not creating the missing accounts yet.
  3. I categorize the email in Outlook with the green “Complete” I created as well as the market label. If/when someone else becomes the owner of this project in the future, it will be easier for them to see what was put in the sheet and which market the information belongs to. The Complete label also prevents me from forgetting which emails I’ve already processed the information for.
  4. When I finish the emails about APS visits and possibly the other emails that I need to ask about Monday, this will be the next or last step: Go through each of the market shop lists and make sure there are matching, up to date Hubspot and Salespad accounts for them.

Personal:

I realized the other week when the creator of Blurt, Corey Gwin, was the guest speaker for the Praxis Wednesday call that I needed to get back to writing regularly.

Then at FEEcon, I lamented the fact that I had not been working toward my writing goals while taking notes in the Creative Track breakout sessions I attended. (More on that to come in my post specifically about FEEcon.) I also got an idea for a new blog. I haven’t talked about my idea for that blog with anyone yet, so while I definitely plan on starting it, I want to get some feedback first.

I’ve also decided to take a different approach to writing my novel — I want to try writing a bunch of short stories that take place at various points of the story and then stitch them together. With this I could either publish it as a sort-of-disjointed-but-connected set of short stories or use this to circumvent the problems I’m having with what comes next. I have some idea what needs to happen, but I’m struggling with the immediate next steps for the characters. This would allow me to skip to wherever I want to write and come back.Basically, I will be getting back into writing.I’m probably going to do some design work for a media business my dad and cousin are trying to start. They have a flier my cousin paid someone on Fiver to make, and I told my dad about Easil. Once I get a hold of making writing a habit and becoming more productive, I want to practice design again by making my own blog post images.

Other Updates:

I found out on Friday that my car totaled so I’ve been taking the MetroLink to get from IL into St. Louis almost right next to where I work. I learned today that it’s more dangerous than I realized. I knew there were some questionable stops, but at the station nearest my work, someone was shot recently. So I will definitely not be taking the Metro any longer than I need to. Because I was rear ended a couple weeks ago, I’ve had to learn a lot. I interacted with insurance, an ABRA from a customer side, applied for a loan, looked for a car, and tomorrow I’m going to look at some cars I found.

Conclusion:

It’s been a really crazy week, but it’s been good. A lot is happening, and while it can be a mixed bag sometimes, I’m enjoying the ride and looking forward to the adventures that await.

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.