Tool storage equipment constitutes what most distributors consider to be a "big sell." First, they're physically cumbersome. Not only is it a bit trickier for the mobile dealer to trot these items into garages like they would a cordless drill, but they also take up precious truck space.
But that doesn't mean distributors should let this sale fall by the wayside.
Revenue from one or two toolboxes alone can boost sales exponentially. That's why many distributors agree that it pays to take a bite out of this — very lucrative — pie.
So listen up. Every shop needs a place to put their tools. Upon interviewing recent shop owners and automotive technicians profiled in the Professional Tool & Equipment News "Big-Time Boxes" feature, they told us what impressed them the most (and the least) in their tool storage buying decisions.
Now is the time to get in on a few "big sells" of your own.
Bone up on your stats
Jay Buscemi, the Chicagoland tech at Spitfire Automotive in Oak Lawn, Ill., was featured in the May 2007 issue with his Matco MB 8535. Still very satisfied with his purchase, it took a lot of research to put his mind at ease before he took the plunge.
"Obviously quality is important to me," said Buscemi, "and the way the unit is built — it has to be heavy-duty. At the time, I also considered the ease of operation. This meant how the drawers work, how the cabinet doors work, the design of the frame, easy access to get in and out and a good locking system."
Security also ranked highly with Buscemi, followed by good mobility for use around the shop and a quality finish.
"If it's a storage unit that has to be mobile, I look to see if it has heavy duty casters so it's easy to roll … a good finish is pretty important, too. It has to be cleanable so it looks appealing. You know, [some] toolboxes are powdercoated — they're not really painted — so the finish on them is more durable than a baked enamel finish."
Buscemi's distributor eased the buying process by assisting with some comparative research and shopping, without pushing Buscemi in any one direction.
"I actually researched a number of Snap-on, Mac and Matco Tools units. He [Buscemi's mobile distributor] helped me to compare the construction of competitors' units, as far as how the unit was painted, the gauges of steel that were used to assemble it, the type of bracing that was installed in it when it was made and the way it was welded. He pointed out that information to me so that I looked at those specifications when I looked at the other manufacturers."
Don't leave them cold
A lack of strong product backing and support caused David Suggs, a mechanic at Pinnacle Infiniti in Scottsdale, Ariz., to re-think his old brand loyalty and instead purchase a Cornwell box that retailed around $30,000.
"About a year ago I was basically looking for space and security," Suggs said. "Brand name usually means a lot to me, but you know, I began having major issues [with service]. There were times they'd say they'd get a top or a canopy out and it would never show up. They weren't giving me what I wanted, and every time they promised me something it never happened. The quality was also not where I wanted it, so I decided to move on.
"When the newest one came out from Cornwell, I saw it was built very well … I don't have any complaints with it, and I have plenty of space. I bought the most complete setup they've got … I like everything about it."
Suggs was also impressed by the honest, straight-to-the-point, attitude of the distributor who sold him.
"He'd tell me the pros and the cons of everything. And that's what I like — someone who's honest with me and tells me this is the way it is, this is the bad stuff and this is the good stuff."
Make paying a pleasure
The inside track on a great sale, in addition to a flexible payment schedule custom-tailored to his needs and abilities, was the icing on the cake for Rick Dzhgalyan, a shop foreman of AAMCO Transmissions in Woodland Hills, Calif.
"[This distributor] gave me a very good deal on the box," Dzhgalyan said. "Actually, it was the end of the year, and they had to get rid of their stock. [This distributor] helped me look for the deal.
"My toolbox is already paid off. We had made a cash deal, so I ended up giving him half up front, and then making one big payment. Of course, he was up for negotiating the payment to see what would work best for me. That was very, very helpful."
Jay Buscemi purchased his box on consignment through the company.
"They offered financing that was probably better than a credit card," Buscemi said. "But it wasn't like getting a home improvement loan or anything like that. It was fair, and they offered a time schedule where if you could pay it off in a certain period of time, and there was no interest on it."
Throw yourself into the deal
After all the research was done and the perfect unit for his shop was revealed, there was one more factor that played a part in Buscemi's decision to buy: the distributor himself.
"Another real important thing to me was buying [the toolbox] from a distributor who regularly visits my shop. They come once a week; I'm not going to buy it from a guy that shows up once a month, or a tool company that looks like they're in trouble. It's got to be a respected company. The company needs to stand behind their product."
Consistency was a cincher in Rick Dzhgalyan's big purchase as well.
"He would come around the same time every day, which made it really easy and convenient. This guy is a veteran."
Dzhgalyan's toolbox houses a large collection of his electric, hand, power and diagnostic tools, and he estimates having invested about $60,000 in the unit. In the coming months, Dzhgalyan plans to expand by adding another cabinet on the opposite side of the toolbox.
"I'm working with [the distributor] to finance and complete the add-on," Dzhgalyan said.
In addition to housing a mechanic's most important tools, a toolbox says a lot about the shop. It's often a one-time-buy, a fixture. This is one occasion where value really counts. The next time you're looking to make this worthwhile sale, remember that techs don't just want the shiny chrome and flashy graphics of an important-looking tool storage system—they're looking for the quality, service and support that should be a part of any big buy.