Becoming a strategic partner to sell compressors

Give your customers more than hot air.

They are the heart of almost every independent repair shop. Providing the power necessary to a shop’s productivity, air compressors enable shops to do business; running everything from impact wrenches and ratchets to sanders, grinders and paint sprayers. Perhaps more than any other piece of equipment, air compressors hold the key to a shop’s profitability; they are critical to the bottom line.

For jobbers, opportunities to spec in a compressor at a brand new facility are rare. Often, by the time a customer expresses a need for a compressor, it is immediately before or after a major failure. And when turning off the air means turning off revenue, knowledgeable jobbers who can quickly provide their customers with a solution become an invaluable asset.

However, many jobbers are wary of selling compressors. They are more complicated than most sales, and with many factors to consider — from the number of bays and technicians, to the application, usage type, frequency and even the location of the compressor — jobbers can feel under-equipped or be afraid they are taking on too much liability in a product category without enough knowledge.

But for knowledgeable jobbers, even though the margin on compressors is lower than other product lines, the sale price is high enough that a sale can represent a very significant commission, not to mention the good will that comes from helping a customer in need. Keeping these factors in mind will help you better understand air compressors — and gain the trust and confidence of your customers.


In most situations, the sale begins with effectively diagnosing the situation. Knowing how shops intend to use the air is one of the most critical components to closing the sale. For established relationships, this may be easy; but for newer customers, make sure you understand the necessary requirements prior to the sale.

Ask customers what their experience has been like with their current compressor, and whether they feel like it has managed their air needs adequately, even during peak usage. Never assume that a 1-to-1 replacement of the current model will be sufficient. Shops may not have purchased the correct air compressor to begin with, or they may have since added technicians or services.

Among other issues, jobbers need to know what applications air is needed for, how frequently it is needed and by how many technicians. Air requirements for a typical repair shop are different than the requirements for body shops or quick lubes. An understanding of each of the relevant applications may help you determine not only the necessary volume of air, but other factors as well, like air purity.

Another factor affecting the demand for air that is easily overlooked is plans for the future. It’s important for jobbers to help customers think of not only the immediate demand for air, but also how their air demand might change over time.


Basic air compressor components include a pump, motor, tank and magnetic starter. Nearly all compressors include these; however, knowing additional features that can be added to the compressor — or bought standard when a customer purchases a new compressor — helps jobbers to upsell.

Though central to the shop’s daily operation, too often compressors are “out of sight, out of mind.” Shops sometimes install compressors in enclosures to muffle noise or out of the way to maximize floor space for other equipment and shop functions. Operation in close quarters, where they are liable to overheat, can be extremely damaging for air compressors; particularly for reciprocating air compressors. In addition, this often creates a maintenance hazard. Compressors installed away from the main activity in a shop frequently are not adequately lubricated. Low oil level switches can monitor compressor lubrication for shop owners, shutting the compressor down and preventing it from “running dry” when lubrication is not adequate. Jobbers need to help customers understand how this helps to prevent extremely costly repairs, and even air compressor replacement, as a result of poor maintenance.

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