Terminate all your stops definitively

I’ll be back.

It’s a movie line that has become famous and most surely used countless times at the end of a conversation. In “The Terminator,” Arnold’s line was direct and gave assurance of his intent before leaving. The phrase as spoken intentionally unsettled and readied the mind for his return.

Our customers see us on a weekly basis; how we conduct ourselves and treat them is in direct correlation to our success in that shop. Is your return viewed as a given or as questionable? Is it a weekly highlight or slightly dreaded? There are a few things that should be done to offer clarity, assurance and longevity.

How many times have you shaken a customer’s hand and sounded out, “Thank you, have a great week,” to the whole shop as you exit, or “Thanks, see you next week,” or “Have a good day, see you Tuesday.” Do you say anything as you exit the facility?

Pick any long-standing shop on your route and think about how many times you have closed the door after completing business. Was there a handshake and mention of thanks, well-wishing or of your return? Did you sell for the moment or look at the big picture?

Throughout the years and all of the transactions posted, you have set a tone with your customers whether it is apparent to you or not.


Remember that a receipt can say a lot of things but — no matter how well-written a special message might be — it does not have the ability to convey sincerity. That is where we need to communicate personally. It is often the simple gestures that go the furthest.

Reviewing the receipt when possible with the customer sets a tone. That action alone shows the customer that this is a straight-up transaction — nothing shady here — and by reading it back you have the perfect opportunity to catch any honest mistakes that may have been made (no one’s perfect).

After having done it for so long, there have been times when the customer has replied “Yeah, yeah I know, I trust you.” That is a nice feeling, but I read it anyway because that is one of the policies I have in place that earned their trust. Remember it is the smallest things that can make the biggest change — good or bad.

Over the years, I’ve had various customers speak about how the other tool truck is consistently messing up on the accuracy of the receipts that have been left, if one was left at all. A transaction that receives no slip begs to be viewed as suspicious. Think about this for a moment — you see the customer for roughly 5 minutes to 7 minutes a week, you may have made an honest mistake, you can bet anything this tech without an explanation is going to slam you all week until you return.

Now take that same situation and put into place the policy of always reviewing the slips with the customer when possible. Let’s say you left the receipt on their toolbox without reviewing it because they were on a road test; if a mistake was made, the customer likely viewed it as an honest mistake. Someone that continually puts so much effort into making sure everything is right will have the confidence of the customer if such an error happens.

Leaving a shop and offering handshakes, hearty farewells and thanks sets a tone. If you think about it, we are in a handshake business — that’s how business was done years ago, so why not keep that tradition alive? Shaking hands and throwing out, “Thank you guys — have a great week,” shows personality, appreciation and assurance. That is one thing that will never be part of an online purchase.

I feel that it is the last piece in every transaction that makes it complete, and I know that my customers welcome my return next week!

Joe Poulin is a mobile tool distributor based in Gray, Maine, for Mac Tools. Send any comments or feedback you have for Joe by e-mail to dpoulin2@maine.rr.com