Smile. Collect. Sell. These three words are written in permanent marker on the inside of the door of Dave Putits’ tool truck, only visible to him when the door is closed and no customers are aboard. Dave, a mobile distributor for Cornwell Tools in Southern California, let’s these...
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Smile. Collect. Sell. These three words are written in permanent marker on the inside of the door of Dave Putits’ tool truck, only visible to him when the door is closed and no customers are aboard.
Dave, a mobile distributor for Cornwell Tools in Southern California, let’s these three back-to-basics words keep him grounded to the essentials of the business. Though sometimes the route may seem overwhelming, he knows the basics can keep him going.
Dave most recently was a battery salesman, and has a degree in molecular biology. But he got hooked on the tool business nearly a decade ago when he wanted to open his own business. He hasn’t looked back.
“The tool business I found fascinating in that you do the whole thing,” Dave said. “I do collections, I do the inventory, I do the sales, marketing … the whole thing. And there are no employees, so I don’t have to worry about people not showing up.
“That’s what intrigued me about the tool business, is it all depends on me. So that was kind of interesting.”
Dave’s route covers some areas of inland Southern California in Riverside County that are growing urban areas. He runs a typical five-day route, and doesn’t go for too much shift work.
“If you can’t do it in five days, you’re not going to do it in six. So why waste your time?” But he does schedule his time carefully to maximize his stops, and he rarely takes breaks.
“I stage my day. … If I know there’s a section of shops that are open from 12-1, then I’ll be able to hit them while the other shops are closed.”
One advantageous aspect of Dave’s route is the ability on some days to pull into one strip mall and make four or more stops, as each storefront is a different repair shop, whether general, specialist or collision repair.
“I don’t think they have this too much around the rest of the country. I hear from other guys … where they do miles and miles of driving. Where for me, especially on Thursdays, it’s pretty tight in one area because I’ve got these malls.”
And when it comes to PBE/collision repair stops, Dave doesn’t shy away from making inroads on future sales.
“I start out saying hi to the preppers,” Dave said. “Sooner or later, they’ll be bodymen helpers and then they’ll be bodymen. It takes time.
“I think you’ve got to be a little more folksy with [PBE techs], get down, say ‘hi’ to everybody, make sure you’re sincere … show up all the time and try to help them out.”
More than just saying hi, Dave concentrates on customer service for all of his 350 or so customers. In Riverside County, that means many customers where English is a second language — Dave does speak some Spanish, enough to get by. And he doesn’t let any language barrier deter from making a sale or maintaining top customer service.
He even helps out with registering his customers for warranties on purchases.
“I register my guys,” Dave said. “A lot of my customers are Mexican, Latino … and I speak to them the best I can, and so they trust me. …
“You need an email address to do some of the warranty stuff, well, some [techs] don’t even have computers. … So I call [warranty information] in personally for them so they know I’m taking care of it, that it’s all covered, and everything’s good. They trust me to do that for them.
“I really didn’t do any more work other than a 10-cent phone call; but they perceive it as I did a lot, and that’s half of taking care of a customer, is their perception.”