Mark Decasian has been a Matco Tools distributor in southern New Jersey for going on four years—before that, he spent 15 years as a Mercedes-Benz technician. He feels that it was an easy change from using repair tools to selling them.“
I think the best distributors are probably guys that come from mechanical,” Mark
said, “because you can really relate to your customer very easily.”
And though he thinks that the transition from tech to distributor can be fluid, he readily admits the most important part of being a successful jobber is customer service, followed by selling a quality product.
“With selling tools, I feel, you’ve got to sell yourself first,” Mark said. “Matco products sell themselves, but if you can sell yourself, it’s doubled.
“The product is a great product, and all you need is to connect with your customer.”
Mark is also quick to point out his business of selling himself and Matco tools would not be possible without excellent help and support, primarily from his wife, Linda.
“Without her, I could not do it; there’s no way,” Mark said. From inventory and ordering to other book work and more, Linda “takes care of it all. She is 51 percent of the business.”
Mark said that the support system from Matco is also essential to what he does, from Gary Goglia, district manager, to fellow New Jersey distributors Derick Turner and Tim Sharkey. (Tim was Mark’s distributor and helped him into the business when he sought a change from his tech days.)
REGULAR WORK HOURS
Though Mark’s business does reach home with Linda’s involvement, he does set a line to keep some separations of family and business. First and foremost, he tries to limit work to Monday through Friday.
“I try not to even go on the truck on Saturdays and Sundays … if it has to be done, it gets done Friday night,” Mark said.
“I park my truck Friday night, make sure everything’s done, and then that’s it until Monday morning. I think that way, it feels like you had a couple days of rest.”
That rest is important when it comes to Monday morning and starting the week ready to do business with his roughly 300 customers. Being consistent with his weekend routine leads to continued consistency during the week.
“It’s very important; consistency is a big key to this business,” Mark said. “Guys expect you and look forward to you showing up … keep the same schedule.” The schedule stays the same, even if disrupted by a holiday or other day off.
“If there’s a holiday that, say, falls on a Monday, I don’t do my Monday route on Tuesday—I just pick up on Tuesday and start going. I don’t go back to those Monday guys, unless they call me.
“I’ll get [my Monday customers] next Monday and they usually give me double payments.”
The key to his customers being on top of their payments in such situations, or just in general, is that Mark makes sure all his customers, right from the start, know what he expects of them. At the same time they will hear what they can expect of Mark.
“Usually when I get a new guy on the truck, I explain to him how I operate, what I expect and what they should expect from me … to get that right out in the open right away.”
Mark’s expectations are fairly straightforward. He expects payments every week, and if a customer misses a payment, to call and get settled over the phone. But it’s more than just another sale, especially in the beginning.
“The first time we meet, I’m not out for that first day just to make a sale. I sell myself first. … Then I get to know the guy, the guy gets to know me, and instead of making sales for that day, I end up making the sales for life.”
Mark said he doesn’t look at his route or his customers as just weekly or monthly sales numbers, but the essential part of “a business that’s securing me for the rest of my life.” To be successful, “get the truck in front of the technician, and stand by your word, and be fair and honest,” he said.
Mark even regards several people as customers who have not bought from him yet, just based on getting in front of them and talking with them every week.
“They aren’t on the books yet, but they’re still customers,” he said. “I still talk to them; I still have to take the time.
“Once they see that you’re there for them they become a customer.”
Mark is square with all his customers about what they can expect from him.
“I tell them they can always expect me to be in and take care of what they need. If they have any questions, my phone’s always on, they can call me any time,” Mark said. “That’s really about it, it’s really pretty basic.”
And one last thing—to always give Mark an opportunity for the sale.
“If they need something, if they’re looking to get [lower] prices, give me a call … a chance to show why they should purchase Matco tools,” Mark said. “I don’t mind giving them the tools so they can make their job easier, so they can make money. But, they have to take care of me, because I’m the one that helps you make the extra money.”
Mark caters to a mix of shops, from independent repair to cycle shops and marinas, an RV store, heavy-duty and machine shops. Mark’s basic motto towards all his customers is “treat them the way I want to be treated.”
“Sell yourself first, and be fair, but you have to have a heart,” Mark said. “When guys don’t have money to pay you, sometimes you give a little bit of slack—without letting them get carried away—and it comes back. … They realize that you helped them out, and you end up with a better customer in the end.”
For Mark, one of the big revelations being on the other side of the tool sale was the involvement and amount of business with shop owners.
“I like to talk to the owners first before I even start doing business,” Mark said. He wants the owner to know he only seeks about five minutes from an employee every week. “They appreciate it because it’s their time I’m using, and every shop owner that lets me into their shop, I appreciate that, and I always make sure I thank them.
“And, actually, you end up doing more business with shop owners. … They know when you’re coming to their shops; they take notice,” Mark said. “The next thing you know, they’re calling you in to their office to buy shop equipment, specialty tools and more.
“Shop owners make the budget, so it’s always good to be in contact with them. You never know, one day they just call you in and say, ‘I need this,’ and you make it happen.”
Mark looks at the shop equipment and bigger sales to shop owners as bonus sales. Similar to his view on selling a toolbox to a tech.
“It’s good to have those [toolbox] sales once in awhile, little bonuses. … Those sales, I don’t depend on, and when they happen, they happen. Though usually when someone asks about them, I usually end up getting the sale.”
Beyond toolboxes, Mark estimates that most everything else on his truck sells in fairly even ratios: hardlines, specialty tools, power tools, consumables, etc.
His consumables sales are strong, including knives (which aren’t normally considered a consumable).
“They’re impulse buys. … I used to carry more of a high-end knife,” Mark said. “They were $50, $60 knives. Then I started to get an inexpensive knife, around $20 dollars, and I sold 10 times as many.” Mark said most of his techs said they kept losing knives, and didn’t want to spend too much for replacements.
“When you can help a guy out and give him a tool at a great price, he’s happy. Save a couple dollars, he remembers that—and you have a sale for life because he’s happy.”
All in all, Mark is happy not only to have moved on from turning wrenches to selling wrenches, but specifically to be doing it for Matco.
“In the past, I did try a warehouse distributor,” Mark said. But now he’s “100-percent Matco. … If I can’t get it from Matco, I don’t get it.
“If you’re a Matco distributor, you should be selling Matco tools, that’s basically what it boils down to.”
Mark is perfectly content in everything he has from Matco to be successful.