Growing from the ground up
Every team member plays an essential role in the smooth running of an auto recycling facility. In this article, Beth Gustafson, Director of Training at Fenix Parts, discusses the vital role of the part puller.
In an automotive recycling facility, every role is essential, and today I want to highlight the vital role of the part puller. At the core, the part puller is responsible for locating parts, safely removing parts, and properly preparing parts for delivery. With experience and additional training, a part puller is also a crucial component in a sales team’s success, order fulfillment’s efficiency, and production’s accuracy. The best part pullers are valuable not only for the quality job they perform in this role but are often a yard’s best place to look to fill other roles.
A part puller is trained, developed, and mentored in a similar way to how a buyer, salesperson, manager, or other key contributors are. When looking to hire a part puller, some of the requirements are experience with automotive repair/part pulling, ability to use hand tools, capable of lifting xxx pounds, basic computer skills, and ability to follow directions. They must be trained in the appropriate handling of parts, safety measures, and all company processes to prep and stage parts.
Pullers should be provided with clear direction and be given feedback on how to improve. Many part pullers are on a pay-for-performance plan. A go-getter will see that there is always opportunity to earn more and better ways to move parts. They will learn from other pullers, but they will also develop new methods that help them perform. Part pullers are the heart and soul of every recycling operation and need the support of upper management. For example, in cold environments, be sure the heating works in the yard vehicle, and when sales are slow, consider offering to pay an hourly rate to complete tasks in the yard.
As a part puller displays excellence and aptitude, don’t be afraid to promote! Yes, this one might be your best puller, but with the right new-hire program and incentives, as well as internal training, your candidate pipeline should fill the void from a promotion. A discussion about other opportunities available should be had with your best part pullers, and transitional training launched.
The puller position tends to have high turnover for numerous reasons, so management needs to be looking at individual performance and discussing the paths available if they stay and continue improving and learning. A logical step is to a dismantler role. They have proven their skill in pulling parts; perhaps they are ready to dive into dismantling and would appreciate a more controlled climate and environment to work in, as well as an opportunity to earn more. A yard now sets the person on a new training path, where additional technical skills are taught.
If the part puller has some soft skills and is eager to be in a customer service role, a sales team position might be another step for them. If you have a candidate for sales, the expectation is that they have proven their computer knowledge in your inventory management system on the inventory side, and training can focus on the software’s sales side. A part puller will have additional knowledge that a general salesperson may not. They will know what extra parts are likely available and non-damaged on the vehicles you have and will also be aware of issues parts may have. They can make educated suggestions to customers, as well as recommend specific methods to pullers regarding parts they need for customers. This knowledge adds value to your team and customers and helps manage customer expectations.
Regardless of what role they show interest in and aptitude during transitional training, know that they also will have a relational connection to the part puller team that cannot be taught. They will know how best to communicate departmental needs to the puller team and can share that with the broader staff. After a promotion to a different department, one often learns “why” things are done the way they are, and now an improved process can be developed with the input from more than one perspective.
Promoting and developing talent strengthens all departments and, therefore the company. It creates positional depth in your organizational chart so that in a short-staffed moment, there are educated employees to step in and step up. Growing from the ground up works.