If you were at the 2008 ISN Tool Expo in June and attended the distributor panel, then you already know a little about Matt Sledge, an independent mobile tool dealer from Murfreesboro, Tenn. Matt was the youngest distributor on that panel, had plenty to say and plenty of energy for the...
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“I follow through with what I’m going to do,” Matt said. “That’s the hard part about it.” Some of it is skips, though not all of it.
“I sold somebody an air ratchet one week, and the next week the guy got fired. … He lived in ‘Hole-in-the-wall’ Tennessee.
“I jumped on my motorcycle, drove to his house, and picked it up.
“District managers will tell you to blow it off and go sell something else. I don’t blow it off, I take it pretty personally.”
Beyond skips, Matt wants his customers to be up-front with him.
“People that don’t pay me on a week-to-week basis with problems, that just kind of rolls off my shoulders.
“It’s the people that owe me $300, $400, $500” and won’t pay anything and duck around that get to him.
“I try to shoot a $20 bill for every $100 I sell … but I’m not real, real picky, and I think that’s why I get a lot of guys’ business. I ask for the bare minimum, 10 percent, every week. If you can’t pay me 10 percent, I don’t want to do business with you.
“I try to get 20 percent, but bare minimum 10 percent,” Matt said. “And they all know that. I don’t get run over much on my collections. I’m pretty known for going after them.”
Matt has about 325 active customers every week and shoots for $1,000 in collections and sales each day to be in his “comfort zone.”
“Cash is getting scarce. If someone’s not taking credit cards, they’re losing.”
Matt runs credit cards for his customers at the same time each week so they know when to plan for it.
“I usually cash a lot of checks on Fridays, and take a little extra cash,” Matt said. “If their check is $258 and some change, I’ll usually keep the $58, $48, whatever it is … as their payment.”
It’s the basics that keep Matt’s business running strong.
“Hit the store on time, be there every week, collect on your payments like you’re supposed to and treat the guy like you want to be treated, and you’re going to have a successful business. … A lot of the stories are similar, but it’s the small quirks” that set each distributor apart, he said.