Think outside the toolbox

Add more $$$ to your bottom line with consumables

Also remember your customers are busy. Sometimes it’s hard for them to remember where they picked up that can of lubricant. So, make it easy for them. Consider cinching the reorder by slapping a computer-printed label: “Time to reorder? Call Bob at …”


Penetrants and lubricants seem like natural extensions of what you do. But what about chemicals like sealants or additives. You’re probably thinking that’s the kind of stuff a DIY’er picks up at the local auto parts retailer and that a professional wouldn’t touch it.

Think again.

Although some retail formulations are just time-buying patches, many professional-level chemicals for the transmission, radiator, A/C or other systems are great tools to prevent comebacks. Some are even used by automakers in the production process.

“We have OEM customers that put our radiator product in on the assembly line as leak preventive,” said Clayton Parks, VP Marketing & Development from Bar’s Leaks.

The rationale: If it’s good enough for the OEM, isn’t it good enough for a shop?


Some consumables aren’t just repair or diagnostic tools, they’re great selling tools, too.

“You just put a drop of each fluid on each spot of this card,” said Ron McElroy of Fluid Rx. “It shows the tech if any of the fluids need to be changed. It also let’s the tech show a customer tangible evidence that he or she needs a transmission fluid change or a radiator flush … or whatever.”

Don’t get consumed with selling consumables. Even with healthy margins and endless repeat business, you are first and foremost a tool and equipment expert. If your business were a steak dinner, tools would be the ribeye and consumables would be the sour cream and chives on the baked potato. They add a lot, but they’re not a meal.

Phil Sasso is president of Sasso Marketing Inc. (, a technical marketing agency specializing in tools and equipment. Subscribe to his free marketing tips at

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