Charter Matco distributor Doug Broom says he got into the business backwards. He started as an independent before joining the brand, whereas many independents get their start under a flag before branching off. The former Ford mechanic bought his business in 1972 from an independent looking to...
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This works not only to add shops you may have missed in developing the route, but can bring more loyal customers since they’ve sought you out.
Doug can’t imagine how hard it would be for anyone else to work for him. As the business owner and sole employee, he is tough on his crew; expectations are high and there are no excuses.
What Doug likes least about his job, actually, is being the “chief cook and bottle washer” reponsible for everything. He estimates he spends 1-2 hours each night after the route is run working on inventory, ordering, repairs, returns, stocking the truck and everything else that needs to be done. But he accepts no excuses.
“I don’t want customers tripping over boxes because I didn’t take time to put away tools each night,” he said.
And his “no excuses” attitude towards his business improved his salemanship when he was without his truck for eight weeks. He continued doing the route with his personal pickup and found he survived ... by going back to basics.
“Without my truck to rely on, I had to carry things in and really sell again. Everybody should have their truck go down, at least for a week, sometime ... it wakes your ass up.”
For Doug, right now is a good time to be more alert in the business.
“The biggest problem I’m running into is that there are too few new guys coming in. I’ve lost seven car dealers within the last year, including a 100-year-old Cadillac dealer,” he said. “That’s money that’s not coming back.”
This is where no excuses and keeping inventory updated are key for Doug.
“My customers are aging, they don’t need basic socket sets and basic screwdriver sets,” he said. So it’s up to Doug to keep them interested by keeping the new tools coming to the truck so they have a reason to keep stepping up to look around.
Turn $1.05 into $2,500
One part of the inventory on Doug’s truck is a healthy stock of repair/replacement parts for tools. He likes to be able to fix broken tools asap for customers. Sometimes that is immediately on the truck, other items he takes home to fix and return the following week. His last resort is to send in broken tools, knowing that will take longer than if he can fix items himself.
“I carry lots of parts to do quick fixes, and, boom, [the tech] is happy,” Doug said. He replaced three screws in one customer’s air tool to get it working like new again.
“I just gave him three free screws at 35 cents each to me, and he’s happy. Then he starts asking about when the next tool fair is, he wants a locker for his Matco toolbox. That’s 35 cents times three, to $2,500.”