“It’s a little bit more of an investment when you’ve got two trucks and two sets of license and that kind of stuff, but I think it more than pays off for itself when you come to the other side of it,” Andy said. It keeps you in front of the techs, which is where you make your money, he said. As far as the two trucks’ workload, he switches off typically every maintenance cycle.
Andy said the most-wear mechanical feature of the trailer is brakes and axles.
“I can do a brake job in half an hour, because they’re disc brakes. … With a regular maintenance schedule, that’s all taken care of. I keep a good inventory of tires on hand, so I’m ready to go.”
Andy’s 18-ft. gooseneck trailer has 18 feet of floor space, plus some additional area in the gooseneck that he uses for the generator for the A/C and other items he wants to keep out of the way. One of things he ordered on this trailer was full-foam insulation.
“From the last trailer I had to this one, it is a day-and-night difference with how warm this one stays in winter, and how cool it does in the summer,” he said.
He considered other sizes, longer and shorter, but found that if he went much shorter, “I wasn’t going to have enough space [for tool display], but any longer and I was going to start running into that issue of not being able to make swings” through smaller shops.
The only downside Andy’s considered from the truck and trailer is that he doesn’t have a walk-through from the cab to the tools.
“Some of these guys can pull off on the side of the road, spin out of their seat, and check something in back [for a customer on the phone],” Andy said. “I might get a request somewhere, pull off the road, get out, run around into the trailer, check it … and that’s a little more inconvenient.
“But I think it more than pays off when I look at my upsides.”
STOCKING THE TRAILER
In addition to keeping the trailer setup from the previous distributor, Andy also relies heavily on Neu Tool to keep the trailer stocked.
That distributor “put me in contact with Neu Tool, and a couple of the suppliers. I use a few others, for the things you can’t get just at one spot,” Andy said. “I try to limit my number of suppliers simply because it cultivates a better relationship, and the more [business] you can do with one, the better they try to do for you, too.”
He equates it to what he expects from customers. As customers order more from Andy and stay loyal to him, he does as much as he can for them.
“If I’m expecting that from my customers, I also need to work that out with my vendors. It’s kind of a reciprocating thing.
“Neu Tool gives me the feeling they’re working with me to get what I need, to get where we’re going,” Andy said. “When I’ve got a problem and I can’t find something, or I’m having a problem getting an answer for something, I always feel like they’re there to help get over that.
“It’s what I try to give to my customers, and when I get that same thing back like I do from Neu Tool, of course I’m going to want to be loyal with them. I’m going to want to do whatever I can through them.
As far as ordering tools, Andy said he typically has three shipments a week which is key to staying on top of special orders that come up during the week, as well as keeping the shelves full.
“I try not only to keep the shelves full, but to keep the shelves full with the right things,” Andy said. “For instance, I had someone ask me the other day for a special tool for setting multiple carbs on motorsports equipment. … I’d probably be able to carry that for three to four years before you’d ever ask me for one again. That’s not the right tool for me to have on hand.
“But you’ve still got to keep your thumb on what you’ve got to have. You can’t let anything get outdated,” Andy said. “Something becomes obsolete and nobody’s going to want it, no matter how good of a deal you put out on it.”
There are some constants in tool sales, though.
“Hand tools are things you sell to the younger guys, the new guys, unless there’s something really innovative, really different. … The older guys already have their screwdrivers, they already have their wrenches,” Andy said. But power tools are a constant need.