Staying focused on the customer

As a tech at a Chevrolet dealership, Joe Gruba became a Cornwell customer largely because he liked the dealer who stopped by the shop every week. “He was the nicest old guy. I think really at that point is where I kind of wanted to become a dealer...

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“I sell a lot of these Makita combo packs…tool carts have always been a good sell too. The new (models) started off real strong…I've been buying them in packages of three.”

When asked about diagnostic or other specialty tools, Joe said he keeps an eye on his market. “You kind of get an idea of who's doing what out there. You know, what they're into. The gadget guy, that's who you go searching for if you want to sell the new stuff.”

Often he’ll lend out a new piece of test equipment to get a customer’s opinion on its usefulness. “It kind of helps you sell it (to other customers) too.”

Joe says that learning what other dealers are selling, through magazines like this one, is also a big help because much of any dealer’s on-board inventory is slow-moving stuff. “ I think a guy works mainly about 30 percent of his inventory. A lot of (the rest) is just stuff you've got to have. (There are always) warranty issues (and) that guy who hasn't bought the extra-long set of wrenches yet…Lights are big… worklights and flashlights. Lighting is huge.”

Joe also spurs business with incentive packages, like raffle tickets for a flat-screen TV at Christmas time or for hunting gear in the fall. Sometimes the incentives are offered with a purchase, or sometimes they are awarded for making a big payment on an outstanding account, depending on what he thinks his business needs at the time. “Do I need to bring some money back in, or do I need to put some money back out. It's kind of a fine line.”

Company promotions help too, because it gets customers to notice and talk about a particular tool.

Joe also recognizes the importance of searching for new opportunities and new products. “Somebody's always doing something that you're not that's a good idea. You've got to keep your ears open and find out other possibilities and other ways of doing stuff.”

“Product knowledge is another huge tool (for selling). I think that's one of my biggest downfalls. I don't (always) know enough about a piece of equipment to actually sell it to the customer. So whenever I get a chance to learn about it, I take that opportunity and go with it,” says Joe. “Take for instance, scan tools. I’ll pick a scan tool (and) try to know the best on (that) one tool: Know it's capabilities, what it can and can't do.”

In the end though, Joe still feels that helping his customer is the most important part of his success in this business.

“Just being there. Keep the service end of it up. Try to keep the truck stocked. Always ask for the sale (if) somebody's hemming and hawing. Before they leave the truck, ask ‘do you want me to order that for you?’ if you don't have it. You'd be surprised how many people say ‘yeah, go ahead’ rather than just taking it for granted that you can’t get it.”

That’s not just selling tools, it’s making sure your customer gets what they need, and that they get it from you.





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