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.
optimism through the whole thing made the whole ordeal seem like less than a blip on the
I was impressed. Impressed enough to break the first-person rule.
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.