Service is an area Lynn prides himself on, and sees as key to being a successful distributor, and especially as an independent. He fixes air tools for techs, regardless of brand, to keep up good customer relations. He’s always willing to swap out a tool so a tech isn’t waiting a week for a replacement.
In order to best service his customers, Lynn seeks superior service of his needs. For Lynn, one big difference for independents is the ability to choose who you do business with as a customer; where you buy tools. Whereas you need to be a stronger businessman without some of that help from a brand, you do get freedom in choosing inventory, from what and how much to supplier.
“The big difference is you can go where you want to go,” Lynn said. “Being an independent is exactly what it means: I’m an independent dealer, I can associate with any brand of tool.
“I do all my business with ISN,” Lynn said of the Florida-based warehouse distributor. “I do 100 percent of my business with them; they are about the best place you could do business with. … They take good care of me.”
As an independent mobile dealer, “you have to be hooked up with a good (warehouse) distributor,” Lynn said. “I can’t stress enough how good ISN is. … I spend $35,000 to $40,000 a month with them.”
With the help of a good warehouse, “you could be an independent anywhere, if you knew what you were doing, and be very successful at it,” Lynn said.
And having a good warehouse distributor helps you take better advantage of the business, Lynn said.
“There’s plenty of business around. You have to have good sales ability because you have to sell yourself,” he said of being independent. For branded trucks, he said the tools are almost pre-sold, making it tougher on independents, which necessitates more salesmanship and service.
Lynn tries to collect about $2,000 to $2,500 every day, and to keep sales within about $100 of collections. His daily target is about 200 customers and 25 stops. And in relating to his time-management goals is consistency—trying to be at the same shop at the same time each week.
“There’s just so much business out there; an incredible amount of business,” Lynn said. “But you have to be there consistently, at the same time every week. Each and every week they depend on you to be there.”
Another key component to Lynn’s approach is keeping current with new tools and other innovations, including talking with techs about what they need or want, and reading trade magazines for the aftermarket like Professional Distributor and sister publication Professional Tool & Equipment News.
“I search the tool catalogs looking for new things,” Lynn said. “And PTEN, etc., I search every weekend for new tools.”
When he finds new tools his techs have asked about, or that he knows they will want, “I’ll buy 20 or 30 of them—then I’ll push myself to sell them, and sell hard.
“I just had little mirrors with lights on them, extension mirrors,” Lynn said. “I bought 40 of them and they were gone in two days.”
Lynn keeps a box of specials on the truck to highlight those 20 to 30 items he’s pushing at any time.
“Make yourself sell more; become more of a salesman,” Lynn said. He is keen to point out that badmouthing other products is not the same as good salesmanship.
“Never badmouth the competition’s tools—you can badmouth the guy’s work habits, the price of the product. … But never badmouth the quality of the product. Never do it.
“With a mechanic, you don’t know everything he’s got in his toolbox. He could have four or five different brands of power tools, whatever. If you start knocking that stuff, they won’t agree with it,” Lynn said. And then you’re hurting your reputation.
As an independent, Lynn sees one big difference, and advantage, that he has from some of his competition. He is not pushed to sell toolboxes (though he does sell some toolboxes, and he said tool carts are a huge item right now). Instead of devoting shelf space on his truck to a toolbox or two, he’s able to stock more hardlines and power tools.