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Mac Tools distributor David Musil of Crete, Neb., has been a tool man for nearly a decade. Everything you need to know about Dave's business, you can learn by looking at his truck. Not only is the impressive Kenworth eye-catching on the road, but the "Ready for work" signage, placed prominently above the cab tells the rest.
Dave's truck is a bit of a jaw-dropper inside as well. As good as it looks on the outside (including graphics, pull-out grill and demo-playing TV screen), Dave has put even more attention-to-detail in the interior. Not just the full level of stock he cruises with, but the hand-made shelving and displays are impossible not to notice. It should come as no surprise that Dave has regularly finished in Mac's Top 10 distributors.
The former bodyman spends three days a week in Lincoln, and the other two covering more rural areas around Crete, including stops with vo-tech students at Milford's Southeast Community College.
"I found that I like to work with my hands and I am also a people person," Dave said. "[As a distributor] I can keep my hand in both. I can still look over a tech's shoulder and offer help as part of my interaction every week. ... I really enjoy the people."
At the body shop, Dave said every week the Mac truck would come through regularly. Dave's Mac distributor became a DM, and recruited Dave to take over his route because of Dave's knowledge of tools and his "gift of gab." Now Dave feels he's in his dream job.
"It was either this or drive Gravedigger," he joked.
The 'E' word
With the way the overall economy of the past few years has decreased spending across most markets, it's been common to see lower levels of inventory at various retail outlets, from the corner grocery to tool trucks.
That's certainly not true on Dave's Kenworth. His shelves, displays, walls and ceiling are all fully stocked and he was carrying three toolboxes as well. Dave said that he hasn't dramatically changed his sales style in the past few years, and has been fortunate not to see sales drop. He accounts for part of this from the constant level of stock he has available. If the tech doesn't see it, he's much less likely to buy it, Dave said.
Regarding that, Dave does some toting-and-promoting at various stops, but "would much rather sell out of the truck than a bag," he said.
"You've got a much better opportunity to sell something off the truck, where there's more likely to be something that will jog the tech's memory, 'Oh yeah, I have to have this.' Toting and promoting has to happen, but if you can bring the customer to the truck, he can see all of what you've got." And that makes for much better sales, he said.
"I hand the tools to customers all the time to hold; it's like in the car business, 'feel the wheel, seal the deal.' " he said.
Another advantage Dave uses once he gets customers on the truck is the video screen above his work area that plays promo videos. He has a friend who converts the Mac fliers to a pan-and-scan video presentation with a musical background. (There is also a video screen that plays outside the truck to help draw customers in.)
"The advantage: It sells product," Dave said. He added quickly that there is also a disadvantage to the screen. "It takes their attention away form me ... I can tell when I don't have their 100-percent focus."
One of Dave's fun sales on the truck is with the Swab-eez from Innovative Products of America. While some distributors have found these to be slow to catch on with techs, Dave "sold them the first day I had some on the truck. Customers will come on the truck and ask, 'What do you use those for?' I turn it right around and ask, 'What would you use it for?' " Dave said the responses vary from uses in the shop to others at home, but the important thing is it gets the tech thinking of what he can use them for and nets sales.
The Swab-eez work as a consumable for Dave. Other consumables he does well with are gloves, grinding and sanding discs ... and jerky.
Tips on offering credit to customers.