Industry Insiders: Differentiate Your Business with Scott Robertson (Part 2)
In our newest Hollander Excellence series, Industry Insiders, we sat down with experts in the auto recycling industry to discuss a wide array of topics, including online sales, how to evolve your business, and changes and obstacles facing auto part businesses today.
This week's Industry Insider is Scott Robertson of Robertson Auto Salvage, in Wareham, Mass. We spoke with Scott about salvage yards and online sales. Read on to find out how Scott has differentiated his business from other salvage yards--even amidst the high competition in his area.
Part 2 of 4 upcoming posts is below.
Hollander: How have the Hollander products evolved with your business or changed your business practices and how you run things?
Scott Robertson: Early on when we had our own computer system, we didn't have the proper prompts, and it wasn't as sophisticated as when Hollander came out with their computer system.
We probably waited 5 years too long jumping onboard with Hollander and going with their computer system. Back then it was very costly to buy and operate computers. We had to build a special room for our computers when we first started with our computer system— it had to be air-conditioned, and these things were massive. I mean, they were the size of two desks put together, and the printers were huge, plus we had just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into our own software, so investing in theirs so soon was just too expensive.
We ran with our own system for a long time until we switched over to Hollanders. The Hollander System was a lot easier. It was easier on the salesmen. The prompts were easy. They have refined their system so much now that you don't have to be mechanically inclined to sell used auto parts now.
You can be a guy that has never changed oil, or you can be a guy who doesn't even like automobiles and you can sell used auto parts right now with ease and the way Hollander has it.
Hollander: Interesting. Obviously, online sales are a huge part of your business now. What have you noticed? What is different about your day-to-day? Can you speak to this a little bit?
Scott: Yes. Well, let me tell you, having your parts online and easy for people to see, people call already knowing that we have the part. They are finding that part from a search engine.
Now, 20-30 years ago, before the internet, all that you would rely on would be your reputation, and you had customers. The customer would call you because you had a reputation for having that kind of a part.
Nowadays, reputations are gone because the consumer, the end-user, is finding that part on a search engine. It is good and it is bad. It is a lot easier for an upstart yard to come online and sell their stuff, whereas 30-40 years ago, it would almost be impossible to break into this industry because you didn't have the contacts, you didn't have the inventory. It cost a lot of money to advertise.
Now, you can buy cars, list them and they get blown out to the whole world to all of these search engines. An awful lot of guys are doing that. It has become very, very competitive.
Hollander: Since there are so many places you can search for parts, it has definitely been more competitive. Do you think the reputation helps or is it just whoever has it is the first to get it?
Scott: Sometimes it is whoever has it, sometimes it's price. I'd say a lot of times it is price. Reputation is still there but it is more so there with the older repairers and the older shops that are loyal and are going to buy stuff from you, because they only want to make one phone call.
There are a lot of shops that don't want to make 5, 6, 7 phone calls and have to deal with 5, 6, 7 shops and have 5, 6, 7 bills at the end of the month. They just want to deal with one Salvage Yard and get all of their parts to them at one Salvage Yard and pay one bill. It makes their life easier. Then you will get some people that will buy their toothpaste from CVS and then run to Walgreen's for their toilet paper.
This concludes part 2 of our interview with Robertson Auto Salvage owner, Scott Robertson. To learn more about him and what his company is doing, please visit http://www.robertsonautosalvage.com/.