From Counter to Computer: Spalding Auto Parts, A Success Story
We recently caught up with Geoff Green, an IT and e-commerce specialist at Spalding Auto Parts. Green has ample experience in this industry with a very active online presence. Below, we discuss how he has worked with Hollander to grow his business.
Hollander: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Geoff Green: Sure! My name is Geoff Green and I have been with Spalding Auto Parts since 1979. Spalding has been here since 1934, we have just under 200 employees and we dismantle up to 10,000 cars a year. I now run our e-commerce department which includes Hollander Storefront, the Hollander eLink™ program, EDEN®, among other initiative. I am originally from California, but moved up here to Spokane, Washington in 1975. I worked for Spalding for a few months in 1976, before coming back in 1979 and have been here ever since. I still live in Spokane, got married here, raised two kids, and put them through college (now they are all graduated!). It's been a great place to work and meet a lot of friends, and I have enjoyed it immensely.
Hollander: What inspired you to do this kind of work?
Geoff: I was a kid out of the ‘60s--I grew up around cars and racing and was a car nut. Over the years, I have worked on some drag racing teams, top fuel teams and have just been an overall avid car nut. Being a bit of a geek, I started running the IT department here at Spalding in 1986 when we computerized and went with the Hollander system.
Hollander: You've been at it for quite awhile. I am sure a lot has changed since 1986, right?
Geoff: Well, we don't use the Commodore ‘64 anymore. Actually, it's changed an amazing amount. With Hollander using the pictures and now, with the SnapIt program, it's just phenomenal how we can sell.
Hollander: Absolutely, we hear that from a lot of people we speak with and the advancements just keep getting better and better. Could you talk a little bit more about how you have integrated Hollander products into your business and what you have seen as a result?
Geoff: Well, the main thing I am involved with is the Hollander eLink product that allows us to list parts on eBay. Before Hollander was integrated with eBay, we could only list a couple thousand parts online and because you didn't have live inventory, if you sold something on the front counter, it wouldn't come off eBay and vice versa. So, with Hollander getting involved with eBay and establishing eLink, we now have a little over 220,000 parts on eBay through the program.
Hollander: What benefits have you seen over time by using these integrations?
Geoff: You could say "Cha Ching!" Monetarily, it's been phenomenal--we've had record breaking years since 2006 or 2007. We now have a task force of five people in the e-commerce department and we've grown it from one person (me) to five people, and we have been making record-breaking sales every year.
Hollander: Wow, congratulations.
Geoff: Thank you.
Hollander: So are you expecting even more growth in the upcoming years?
Geoff: Oh definitely. With the advent of the SnapIt program, it helps sell online, but even in-house because when someone calls the front counter wanting to know if that starter has two pins or three pins, well, they look at the picture of it and go, “Oh my goodness, it's three-pin.” With the advent of all the little additions that Hollander does, I can only see it getting better and see it growing.
Hollander: How big do you see your team getting?
Geoff: I could see doubling it in the next two to three years. We have five now, I could see ten. eCommerce is the biggest growth potential we have here. Our customer base in Spokane is about 500,000, where our customer base on ecommerce through www.hollanderparts.com, the Hollander store and the eLink program, is mega millions--I mean it's 20,000,000 minimum and we are shipping all over the world.
Hollander: That's incredible.
Geoff: I really do believe that e-commerce is our biggest area of potential growth. I’m a smidgen biased saying that.
Hollander: Well, you're to thank for that success then!
Geoff: A little bit!
Hollander: You have mentioned your use of SnapIt. Are you taking the photos or do you hire photographers? What are your biggest efforts in that area?
Geoff: We have different stores here at Spalding: our import store, domestic store, pickup store and a heavy truck store. Each location has a photo booth and takes pictures. The pictures are worth more than a thousand words or dollars. This has been the biggest uptick in doing business, it has helped us so much. It also streamlines the process in the store: customers can see the picture of the actual parts and then our front counter salesmen can acces it too. One of Hollander's latest things was the ability to email those pictures right from the Powerlink ®screen, when you look something up you can send it right to your customer.
Hollander: How did you get started with these products? What encouraged you to try SnapIt and eLink in the first place?
Geoff: We have always had a close relationship with Hollander. We used to go to all of the Hollander meetings in Minnesota, from the days when Roger Hollander was there, up until last year when they went to the Hollander Summit to get the insight from you. We appreciate that Hollander will listen to our input.
Hollander: What kind of advice would you give to others in your position in terms of adopting these tools and seeing success online?
Geoff: Keep an open mind, learn all you can, learn from others, emulating other's successes can only help you. One thing I use for my new guys is the Hollander training that gives years worth of schooling for free— which is where you are going to learn anything and everything you have ever wanted, but were afraid to ask about.
Hollander: Great advice. Do you have anything else that you would like to share?
Geoff: I just look forward to the next few years on the advancements that are coming down the line. It would be phenomenal to see something more smart phone compliant and easy to use. I read something the other day that 38 percent of the online sales coming over the web are coming from smartphones. We have to address making it smartphone friendly—that would be the thing I would want to see happening in the near future.
Hollander: Definitely. Well, we know the importance of mobile, so it's interesting to hear that statistic and we will see how things continue to adapt overtime to accommodate that.
Geoff: Well get on it!
Hollander: Yes sir! Thank you for your time.
To learn more about Spalding Auto, click here: www.spaldingauto.com.