For Cornwell Tools' 2007 National Rally, the stars were big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. In late March, at Dallas' Gaylord Texan Resort, Cornwell saluted its best and brightest, as well as hosted a selection of training sessions and a record number of vendors.
With a strong turnout of mobile dealers at 50 percent, Cornwell also bested its record of vendors by providing more than 100 booths for dealers to view. They were even able to display tool trucks inside the venue.
The show kicked off Friday with morning and afternoon training sessions, a featured dealer forum, and a tool expo preview for top dealers in the late afternoon. Saturday featured the tool expo, with a lunch break that included awards, and closed with a Western-themed dinner and more awards (including a custom-built chopper).
The training (and dealer forum)
Dealer training included the two-hour "New Dealer Training Seminar" that focused on "the core aspects of building a successful Cornwell Tool business." The seminar was especially for all dealers with less than a year in the business.
Another one-time-only session was the "Dealer Forum," a unique opportunity for dealers to discuss frankly the business of selling tools. Four of Cornwell's top five mobile dealers took the stage and answered questions from the floor that covered questions about average TP turns, how many hours/miles per week they put in and what percent toolbox sales were for their businesses. They also addressed skip accounts, and shared the advice that stopping at a late-pay customers' house on weekend mornings usually does the trick (much better than collection agencies). First letters already marked "Third notice" also were said to work well.
As for toolboxes, former Cornwell wunderdealer, now a district manager, Matt Scharping directed the "Toolbox Selling for Dummies" seminar. Scharping instructed packed rooms on the differences in selling boxes vs. tools ("You have to have a method, toolbox sales don't just happen."), and where the importance of toolbox sales lie. ("Toolbox sales are the gravy, not the potatoes, of a route.")
Other seminars included "Merchandising and Package Selling" and "Budgeting 101." Budgeting spelled out the "breakeven and completed business" aspects as the foundation of the business. The merchandising seminar was targeted at dealers to re-energize their route sales and help them "make things happen."
On the floor
From the expo floor during the Friday preview and Saturday show, Cornwell and its record number of tool vendors exposed dealers to plenty of product, including new tool trucks in the exhibit hall.
Among the toolboxes on display was the new, limited-edition "Troy Lee Designs" box that will have a production run of 100. Dealers were allowed to get in on a lottery system to buy one of the 65" toolboxes for their route. The "flaming eyeball" design also included pin-striping, scallops and other graphic elements. Though Cornwell didn't dominate its show floor with toolboxes, the Troy Lee Designs box was a significant attention grabber.
One highlight of Saturday's tool fair was the lunch, where the expo hall was closed for an hour, allowing vendors a much-earned break, as well as the opportunity to eat with their customers (the dealers) and witness the awards for top dealers and districts. This unique event gave vendors more ownership of the business as they watched the dealers receive accolades and recognition for their hard work.
One highlight of the Cornwell show floor was the nice custom-built chopper, built by Scott Martindale, a Cornwell district manager from Northern California. Issues of Cornwell's newsletter followed the bike's build, with in-progress shots, to build excitement among mobile dealers. The bike was available to be won by dealers purchasing Hardline Super Sets at the rally. The lucky dealer to ride the bike home was Bill Bright, from North Kansas City, Mo.