When we talked with Burlington, Wis. Cornwell distributor Gordy Gill more than two years ago, he was running a rigorous four-day per week route, from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. at night. He’s had to ease up since then.
“In August 2006 I had quadruple-bypass heart surgery,” he said. “I backed off a little bit.” Gordy still runs three or four days each week, but now only keeps his Thursdays fully booked.
KEEP IT GOING
Gordy has kept up with his customers, though. He maintains about 400 active customers from the 800 customers recorded on his computer.
“Some of those will drop off, and some of those that didn’t have a balance will come on,” he said. “It keeps itself balanced out.”
Gordy does this by focusing on his business.
“I’m finding it a little more challenging this year so far. My sales aren’t down, but they’re not ahead either,” he said. “I’m about dead-even with last year, but you’ve really got to work at it this year to get those sales.”
Gordy said that learning from past experience helps him stay cautious with how much of himself, and his tools, he offers to his customers. He takes these experiences and uses them to keep himself in check.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a dealer for three or 30 years; collections are the key, and you have to stay on top of those collections.”
STAYING ON TOP
All distributors are aware of the increased presence of the Internet. Gordy’s no different. He struggles to answer questions about price matching with the online marketplace, but says it’s important to emphasize the service he provides when selling equipment to techs.
“I’ve got loaners that I let customers use if they bought the equipment from me,” he explains. “For the most part, I just emphasize the service end of it.”
Over the past few years, Gordy has seen a change in the shops he services. Focusing about 70 percent of his time on independent shops, he has noticed that more and more smaller shops are keeping up with dealerships.
“I think the independent shops have made great steps in keeping their knowledge base up with the automotive repair shops of the dealerships,” said Gordy. “Most of those shops aren’t afraid to spend money on equipment.
“They’re either attending school themselves, or sending their technicians to school, and they’ve done a great job of keeping up with the automotive dealerships as far as knowledge base.”
Gordy offers up this piece of advice for new tool distributors: Patience is key.
“Keep your nose to the grindstone,” he said. “Get your business paid off first, and the good things will come later.”