The Eppy's crew decided to split the original structure down the center to make room for both the warehouse and a showroom. While the shipping/receiving dock is located right outside of the warehouse, all the paperwork is completed upstairs.
Along with the new setup came a new training room. "We provide product training seminars—in fact, we conducted a seminar with MotorVac Technologies not long ago. These seminars are categorically specific, but we don't cater to specific tools. We tie a 10 percent discount in with sales for attendees, but we don't make it all about selling tools. And these seminars sell out all the time. We require reservations, but don't charge a fee. The scheduling and setup can take a lot of work, but it's worth it to cement our relationships with customers."
It’s About The Employees
“We don’t only sell the tool. We know what it is, and we know how it works. Almost all of our employees have some sort of automotive background. Not only can we sell you what we have, but we can also get you what you need. We have the availability to bring new tools directly to the user when they first enter the market. That‘s how my loyal employees help me retain loyal customers. It‘s all about service and keeping my customers forever.”
“It’s hard to get good, qualified people to open more locations, but we will. I'm lucky I have knowledgeable staff and good people working for me." Michael Alcamo, manager of the Howell location, has been working at least part-time since he was 13 years old; he now has 12 years with the company. Keith Guttman, general manager of both locations, has been working at Eppy's since he was 16; he now has 21 years with the company. “A lot of our regular customers check out the website, then give us a call to talk to their favorite salesperson or someone they've spoken to before and whom they trust,” chimes in Lauren.
“Here’s a good example of what’s great about retaining my employees so long—if a customer called 10 years ago and talked to one of my employees, the probability is good that if that customer called back today and requested to talk to the same person, he or she would still be here. I especially like when people come see us and get a feel for us,” Epstein marvels. Lauren adds, “We consider ourselves a small business, and we are very family-oriented.”
The Mint On The Pillow
“You’re missing the glue without customer service. Our customer base is probably close to filling up a ballpark." Epstein says, “I also have a great relationship with factories. That‘s one of the reasons we can turn tools around a lot quicker for our customers.” Eppys' line card includes approximately 40 major manufacturers, and about 70 altogether. In order to stock product, “We talk to our customers, and we confer with each other,” Epstein says. “If a new product excites me, I try to bring it to our customers. I’m a tool guy, and so are they.”
Eppy's can turn around 95 percent of their website orders immediately, while the other 5 percent consists of overnight shipping and specialty orders. And to generate interest, Eppy’s discloses weekly specials—often a good way to get new product out. It's Lauren's job to send up to 2,000 faxes and e-mails about specials on certain products to their Mechanic's Tool Club members each week and produce renewal notices when memberships run out. Stephen Lieber, who has been with Eppy's for 22 years, handles the layout and design of all catalogs and specials.
“We like to give things away that have our name on it,” says Epstein. Eppy's hands out sweatshirts, hats, T-shirts, etc., which is an innovative marketing tool that helps to create brand recognition, and Eppy's has definitely made a name for themselves. Lauren says, ”When we go to shows, we see people wearing hats, T-shirts and hoodies with our logo on them, and some times we don’t even remember having them in the first place. It's vintage Eppy‘s.”
”Our track record for 22 years is an enormous factor, especially in regard to customer service," Epstein says. "Our customers have confidence in the brands we sell because of their quality. The brands we sell people know and trust. If I tell a customer I think a tool is good—and I stand behind my products, and they believe in Eppy's—they're going to buy that product."