All About Attitude

Frank Gonzalez is no stranger to hard work. From his time as a technician and shop owner, to his stint in the Army in Afghanistan and now to his successful role as a mobile tool distributor of Mac Tools in Miami, Frank has performed well. A big part of the big guy’s success has got to...


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Frank Gonzalez is no stranger to hard work. From his time as a technician and shop owner, to his stint in the Army in Afghanistan and now to his successful role as a mobile tool distributor of Mac Tools in Miami, Frank has performed well.
A big part of the big guy’s success has got to be his big smile. And his positive attitude (see “Sidetracked” sidebar, page 10).
“I enjoy what I do,” Frank said. “I have a good time.”
He’s been a mobile jobber for Mac for about a year and a half, but is already a Mentor for other distributors. The main things he seeks to impart on the new distributors are to work hard, stay positive and be first with customer service.
And he knows about customer service—areas of Frank’s route are shared with several different jobbers from all the brands, so service is a big point to make with his customers. It was his time as a tech that taught him the importance of using service to set himself apart.
“I bought from everybody as a tech at first,” Frank said. “It taught me the difference in service.” He developed one of his mottos from that time, to “treat everyone how you want to be treated.
“My business is all about customer service.”
Part of that service is ensuring that his customers are always happy to see his truck roll in.
“My goal is to be the highlight of my customers’ day,” Frank said. “When they think of tools, I want them to think of me first.”
And he said part of that is making sure his customers always have a positive experience with him.
“I’m a firm believer that if you’re positive about things, positive things happen. No matter what happens,” Frank said. “If I go out and have a bad day, other people are going to have a bad day. … Sometimes, it’s just little things that you do.
“I always try to get positive no matter what. I walk in with a smile no matter what kind of day I’m having; I walk in the shop with a smile on my face; I’m happy to be there. If you’re not a positive guy … things are probably going to get worse.”
One big part of Frank’s business is his time at the Kendall-Tamiami airport, built completely off his customer service. His admission to the aircraft shops started when one customer at one shop inquired about a Mac Tools truck stopping there.
Slowly, other techs in the shop started buying from Frank. Then they started recommending Frank to the other techs at other shops, and pretty soon Frank was devoting an entire afternoon to the shops at the airport.
Being at the airport is a place where Frank’s time as a tech doesn’t necessarily translate as readily as in an automotive repair shop, but Frank doesn’t think that tool knowledge is essential to be successful to begin with.
“It’s not a major factor. I know guys who are doing great, who’ve never been a tech in their life; they learned on the job,” Frank said. “If you treat people nice, and with respect, for the most part, your technicians will help you figure out a tool they need.” He compares that with body shops, where he also doesn’t have much prior knowledge, but is doing well there also.
One bay at a time
The majority of Frank’s roughly 300 active customers are in “ma-and-pa shops, whether collision or auto repair.” And many of those are one bay shops.
“Almost every shop on my Thursdays is a one-bay shop,” he said.
Small shops mean more stops, making timing an essential piece of the puzzle for Frank.
“I stay very on top of time, because my guys know if I come by on Wednesdays, I’m coming by on Wednesdays. … I have an idea of where I should be; for the first shop and for what areas I need to be in by a certain time,” he said.
One important part of Frank’s day is that he does leave himself time in the schedule.
“I sit down for 30 minutes every day and get back to work. I sit down to lunch every day. My wife will meet me some days.” Keeping time for self and family carries over to his son’s schedule.
“If my son has a school activity, I plan that day out,” Frank said. “I let the guys know beforehand that I’ve got a school activity and I go out in my car and collect money and see my customers.” The tool truck stays home.
And, even in the car, if there’s an issue he can resolve right away, Frank takes care of it. And almost always with a smile.
It can be a rough ride
The majority of Frank’s Even for an upbeat guy like Frank, he admits it’s not an easy job—if you’ve got the wrong attitude. Even if he makes it look easy when he’s mentoring.
“The guys who ride with me say, ‘You make it look so easy,’ ” Frank said. “It is, it’s not hard—if you go to work everyday and take care of your customers, that’s all you have to do.”
Taking care of your customers is paramount for Frank. Not obsessing about the money is also important.
“Not everybody can do what we do. If you can get stressed out over the money you’re owed, you won’t make it,” he said. For his own route, he goes by sales and transactions to track each day—and he ignores even those numbers until the day’s route is done.
“I like to have 20/40 every day: 20 sales and 40 transactions,” Frank said. “The dollar amount is there. If you do 20/40 every day, your dollar amount comes out nicely. I don’t want too much focus on dollar amount.
“I’m all about customer service; I’m not a pushy salesman. I take care of you, you take care of me.”
His other advice to new distributors is to remember that, even though they work for themselves, the tool route is a job.
“It’s more of a job than a business: A business you can set up to run by itself, and if you walk away for a day, it still runs. A job is, you’ve got to be there every day to make it produce money,” Frank said. “The tool business is a job.
“A good-paying job, you have no boss, but it’s still a job. Because if I step away from it for a week, I produce no money that week. It’s a job.”
No matter what you call it, Frank’s attitude is the most important part of what he does, for him and his customers.
“Be positive and treat people the way you want to be treated and get up and go to work every morning with fresh ideas, a fresh mindset and happy, ready to go.
“If you’re upset … you’ve lost before you’ve begun.”

Sidetracked

There’s a long-established, mostly respected rule in journalism for writers to keep themselves out of the story, with some exceptions. I must respectfully break that rule now regarding the time I spent riding with and interviewing Frank Gonzalez about his business as a mobile distributor of Mac Tools.

Frank is an upbeat, enthusiastic and optimistic person. This is not unlike the majority of successful tool jobbers, but one unique example presented itself the day I rode along with Frank.
At about 11 a.m., on a sweltering, humid day in Miami, his truck broke down. The truck started leaking coolant furiously while we had been checking in on a customer.

I thought it was the end of the interview.

Frank was hardly fazed. Within 20 minutes, he diagnosed the problem (broken fan belt) and moved the truck across the street to another customer who could work on it. That shop owner worked through the lunch hour to get Frank going again, and we were back on the road about 2-1/2 hours after the initial problem.

What impressed me most: Frank smiled through it all.

“The thing about it is, if you have to stop, then stop and get whatever it is taken care of, and then go,” Frank said of the delay. “You can’t let it ruin your whole day—that’s part of having a truck. The truck’s going to break down. It’s a matter of when.”

We sped up on a few stops, but the delay didn’t require Frank to miss many customers. He called who he needed to, and got back on the road.

For some, that might have been all the reason they needed to trash a day or two of work and complain about lost time.

Frank’s optimism through the whole thing made the whole ordeal seem like less than a blip on the radar.

I was impressed. Impressed enough to break the first-person rule.

Live wire

There likely aren’t many, if any, mobile jobbers who are hitting the road without a laptop computer and printer anymore. But how many are out there with mobile Internet connections every day?

“It’s all part of customer service,” Frank said of being online all day long on his route. “That $50 a month is one of the best investments I’ve made in my business.”

He touts his ability to receive and send emails as needed between stops as a major point of the mobile computing, whether it’s answering a tech’s question or placing a special order.

Frank also likes having the ability to use Instant Messaging for a direct connect with support help on problem orders.

“Another big thing about having the mobile Internet is so customers don’t lose interest,” Frank said. Whether the tech is looking to special order a tool, apply for a Mac Card or whatever else, Frank said if he can answer questions, order tools or process a credit application—while he’s still there—that keeps the customer’s needs focused on what Frank can do for him and not someone else.

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