Matco Tools distributor Chip Thurston has been at this for awhile; he’s seen ups and downs in the economy affect his business several times since he started selling tools in 1987. He has some solid advice for any distributors on weathering out the storm. “Service is my big thing. That’s...
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“I’ve actually avoided some high-volume turnover shops. Basically I give shops three strikes. … That’s it. Then I just stop going there.”
Not that his route is changing on a regular basis, though.
“I get calls all the time of a customer leaving for a shop that I don’t go to. It’s hard, it’s really hard, to squeeze someone in, once you have a route set up,” Chip said.
There is a certain amount of loyalty built up, both ways.
“If the guys aren’t buying, I can’t just stop going there. If it’s a couple months, it always turns around. I just feel obligated to service them if they’ve been doing business with me for so long.
“I try to limit myself now. Like some of the dealerships are just slow. … Normally you’d spend a couple hours in there seeing 15 guys, and if they’re not doing a whole lot of business you need to move it along. See everybody to take care of their tools and service and stuff, but you need to do it in a manageable amount of time and head out.
“That’s one trend I’ve noticed. Dealerships usually take up a lot of time. Back in the day, it was worth good money. Now, I can do a bunch of those mom-and-pop shops, and they pay you very well.”