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 11

Alyssa shares the work she’s done over the last week for projects at her job and outside of it, both part of her apprenticeship.

This has been a really long, but productive week.I’m exhausted. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been feeling too sick to drink coffee. Not that having caffeine will help me sleep, but that my lack of sleep is making the work day feel longer and caffeine helps me wake up and get to it.

Projects this Week

Work

I’m still stuck on the APS rep project. I’m keeping up with the incoming emails every day, though, so what little I do beyond that is making progress towards completion. I’m still behind, but when I finish the backlog, I will be on top of the project.

I knew that I owned the Parts Trader and automated CCC orders that come in, but I didn’t know the full extent of it until yesterday. For some reason, almost all the automated CCC orders that came in went to everyone’s spam folders but Herb’s. (Herb is the sales manager, for anyone who doesn’t know.) When we realized they’d gone to spam, there were about ten that needed to be processed all at once. Normally, I would deal with them throughout the day. Instead we all shifted to taking care of those.
Herb said, though, that he had stopped thinking about the CCC orders because I always take care of them. He doesn’t bother asking if someone saw the CCC orders that came in because I always do.
One of the things I wanted to accomplish was taking responsibility of other people’s plates so they could focus on more important tasks. I am actively doing that.

I also own the eBay orders, now, too. They come in and I send a message to the customer asking if they have the VIN so I can verify we’ll be sending them the right parts. I make their address listing under the EBAY SALES account in Salespad, mark it as the ship to and bill to address, and write the invoice for the part they ordered. Even if the customer doesn’t get back to me in a timely manner so I can verify the match, I take care of the back-end of shipping it to them.

My knowledge of processing eBay orders came in handy early this week. (I think it was this week. If I’m mistaken, it was late last week.) We’re slowly starting to do drop-ship orders through parts recyclers. One company called in to have one of our parts shipped to a shop. We set up the invoices the same as for eBay orders. The shops who are receiving the parts are set up as ship to addresses under the parts recycler’s account in Salespad. We invoice the recycler, the recycler invoices the shop.

Personal

I’m on a roll with daily writing. I’m using Blurt to do most of my writing, and I made a Google sheet to track my daily writing. Since July 8, I’ve written every day and logged over 12000 words!

I haven’t done any work on the new poetry collection I started.

I’ve written almost every day for the new novel I started. Since July 8, I missed three days.
I created a few documents in Blurt under the “New Novel” project, some for brainstorming and keeping track of details, some for different scenes. Three of the docs will have multiple related scenes in them, so that when I go to piece things together I’ll have categories of scenes instead of a billion documents with individual scenes in each one. I might get some documents that are short stories with the characters, but right now I’m just writing scenes. I’m still getting a feel for the main character and a couple side characters. Because I don’t know where the story starts, and I’m trying to write non-linearly, I’m floundering a bit. I’m writing whatever strikes my fancy with the characters and creating new characters as needed.

I launched my first Fiverr gig this week! I shared links to it on Facebook, Twitter, and the two Slack groups I’m in. I haven’t been hired yet, but I’ve taken two tests of Fiverr to help my profile look more attractive. I also added the Fiverr gig (and a version of the gig through this Google form) on my commissions page.

Conclusion

I got a lot done this week! I found out how valuable I am at work when things went a bit awry, and I made progress towards my personal goals and the next steps I want to take.

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 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.