Needless to say the internet has bought a lot of changes into all manner of business, not just into the second hand car spare market, but to all different kinds of enterprise. One old institution that’s died a little bit of a death with the arrival of the web is the travelling salesman. These guys and girls used to run around the country, doing the face to face business deals that many people now do over the internet and phone.
Many people have a romantic view of breakers, which is based on the movies, where they’re often go-to guys who help the mob dispose of problematic vehicles and their deceased inhabitants. However, as with many things in life, the truth of the second hand car spares business is much more sedate than the fiction. We know a lady who goes to a large trade association meeting for breakers and she says the whole thing is a really dead affair. Most of the people who work in the business are used to long hard working hours and a fairly solitary lifestyle. Just ordinary people trying to make their way in life.
In the early days of the breaker agencies it would often be necessary to send out a salesman to meet breakers who were looking at possibly coming on board. We’ve heard a lot of tales about this type of company rep, but none stick in our mind quite as much as the stories we used to hear about one chap. We’ll call him Simon, which is not his real name, just for the purpose of this article.
Simon was a large set East London type, who’d made his home on the doors of many clubs during his younger years, but after tiring of dodging punches and late nights he’d made his way into the breaker business. He was the type who sat there in his office, using a dinner plate for an ash-tray on a desk that was already piled high with disposable coffee cups. The type that you get straight out of a machine.
However, it was on the road that Simon really came into his own. He used to travel round in a smelly old van and sometimes, when he was along way from home, he’d sleep in the back. Often only taking a single change of clothes with him, until he adopted a new approach.
He got the gall to ingratiate himself with customers to the point where he’d ask to stay at their houses, or simply stay so late people just said he could stop over to be polite. Obviously there were some breakers who weren’t very good at saying no to this liberty, and his record stop-over was three nights. Needless to say his agency weren’t that impressed when they heard about his behaviour.
We’ve all heard of the art of softening up the customer, but one of Simon’s tricks really took this to a whole new level. After he’d been found sleeping in customers houses, he was told he had to go into the hotel if he wanted to stay in the same area at night. One of his breaker prospects received a parcel in the post… It was only full of bars of hotel soap, so they called up the agency and asked for an address so they could send it back.
Thankfully these days the internet has changed the business to the point where many breakers don’t have to see salesmen like Simon. There’s now website they can use where customers send requests and receive their second hand car spares. So if you’re a breaker looking for more business, or a customer looking for an inexpensive part, then we can’t think of a better way for you to go.