Sometimes being in the right place at the right time counts for a lot. For Mac Tools Master Distributor Todd Smith, being in the right place at the right time wouldn’t have amounted to anything if he hadn’t spent years laying down the groundwork. Todd’s territory covers the Uintah Basin in...
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“It’d be fun to see more of it as you go into shops. It’d be fun to set up an entire shop with just Mac Tools, lifts and everything.”
TALK TO EVERYONE…
Todd said there is a shop getting started that he is targeting and keeping the owner aware of all the big-ticket shop equipment that Mac offers. That’s one of Todd’s keys to expanding: talking to everyone at each stop, including the owners.
“The biggest part of the business is always going in. I always go in and talk to the owner, or the lead shop foreman,” Todd said. “That’s always been something I’ve been really loyal to. I think that’s picked up a lot of my sales.
“When you go to a shop, make sure you do business with everybody in that shop. That’s where you get your transactions. If you run and do business with one person here, and run down the street and do business with one person in that shop, and there are five guys in each of these shops and you’re only doing business with one person, then you’re losing a lot of time.
“It’s all about efficiency. … It’s really critical that you be as efficient as you can possibly be, and concentrate on seeing everybody.”
Todd’s tips are valid for increasing sales, but worth little if you don’t enjoy talking to people. Todd enjoys his work, in large part because he very obviously enjoys talking with his customers.
“I get to go out and see people I’ve known for 18 years … we get along good together,” Todd said. He’ll take customers out to lunch often, and treat them ‘because I enjoy visiting with them. I enjoy what I do.’”
…AND LISTEN, TOO
Enjoying being in the shops and talking with people is a main ingredient for Todd’s success. If talking is important, listening is crucial. It can tip you off to a big sale, like a toolbox, or a bigger sale, like a home shop that needs tools.
“I got to know this guy, and he’s buying tools for his house. He says stop by the house before you go home this evening. I stopped by his house, and he spent a bunch of money with me.
“Now he’s getting ready to set up his shop, he’s grown enough, and guess who gets the phone call to take care of him and set up his shop?”B
ut a sale like that could’ve easily been missed. Todd said that without talking to the customer and being interested in his situation, and hearing him talk about his plans, he could’ve missed the whole deal. When the customer called the first time to have Todd stop by his home after hours, “I could’ve said I’m too tired, it’s late, I’m heading home.” Instead he went out and it paid off. He heard what the customer was asking for and was ready to find out more.
“That’s the trick to this business; picking up on those little opportunities that sometimes grow into something big,” Todd said. And there are small opportunities like that available all the time for a distributor willing to listen and put in a little extra time.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that after 6 o’clock they’ll turn their phone off. … Some of my best sales have been after 6 o’clock,” Todd said. “Somewhere, some guy is doing a side job and he’s using all that money to buy tools. You go by his house, and he has a pocket full of money.
“That’s cash, not payment stuff.”
KEEPING UP WITH COLLECTIONS
Cash on the nail is always preferred in a job where collections can be difficult. Todd said collections are the hardest part of the job for him.
“Collections is your biggest battle. It’s easy to sell the product; it’s collecting the money that’s your challenge,” Todd said. “When I have to, “I’ll say, ‘Hey, I can’t sell you anything until I get some money on your account.’”
He said that figuring out the different types of customers you have is vital.
“Some people you don’t ask for money, they just pay; other people you have to go and hound them. … I think the biggest part is getting the relationship, getting to know your customer well enough to know what you’ve got to do to collect money from them.
“I wish collections were easier to do. … It’s one thing to agree on paying; it’s another to actually get what you’ve agreed on and have that conversation: