Mobile ToolSales 101

Mobile dealer Glenn Engelman offers a lesson in how sticking with the basics can pay off over the long haul.


Mobile dealer Glenn Engelman offers a lesson in how sticking with the basics can pay off over the long haul. When you look at the traits that have made Glenn Engelmann successful, no single one seems all that unique. He’s consistent in the way he runs his route. Focused on doing what it takes to operate a successful business. Disciplined to properly manage his cash flow and inventory. Energetic in...


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Examples of the simple things Engelmann stays focused on include:

  • All of his costs, including gas, vehicle maintenance and even the free candy on his truck. This helps him to gauge everything that’s relative to his profit structure.
  • The placement of new products in areas that are certain to catch people’s attention.
  • The tote n’ promote tactic of taking products into the shop that are on special or were previously discussed.
  • An understanding of his place in a retail environment, which leads to signs all around the truck that help pinpoint new or unique products. He and Savanna also design new fliers to hand out or place on the truck nearly every week.

Another way Engelmann keeps his focus is with time away from the business. “Time off is important,” he explains. “You can’t forget that playing hard is just as important as working hard. It’s really therapeutic for me to get out on the bike or the boat. Sometimes that just means taking care of the truck on Saturday night instead of Saturday morning so I can spend some time on the water with the family.”

Discipline: Keeping The Wagon Full

“I think he was a born salesman and does a great job of balancing cash flow and the responsibility of running his own business,” states Terri Engelmann of her husband. “He’s just so disciplined.”

This discipline leads to an understanding of how to most effectively re-invest in his inventory. In this instance, Engelmann offers the following insight:

  • “When I first started, my goal was to fill the truck, so I’d order two of anything that was requested. This provided one for my inventory, as well as one for the customer.
  • “I think having as full a truck as possible is incredibly important. Not only in taking care of the customer, but because of the negative perceptions a low inventory can create. I hear my customers talk about some of the other mobile dealers who have ‘nothing on the truck’. There’s no reason for them to even make the trip out from the service bay.
  • “I also go through the truck every night and make a list of things I’m missing. If it’s something I need right away, it goes on the emergency product list that I order every night. The other stuff I’ll wait on, and place a stock order once a week. I feel like this offers a way for me to control my cash flow and monitor purchasing, because the guys who can’t pay their tool bills are usually the same ones who don’t take the necessary steps to really manage and analyze what they’re spending and what they’re selling.
  • “If you have the $5 thing, they’ll remember you for the $300 thing, so try to be the toolman who has it all. This is also a great way to separate yourself from the competition. I feel like if I don’t have something, the other guy will.
  • “If you’re not sure what to stock, listen to the customer.
  • “Matco’s exclusive agreements with Oakley sunglasses and Redback boots help me get service managers and paint or detailing guys on the truck.
  • “I also carry three toolboxes in order to provide a wider range of price points and sizes.”

Energy: Fueling Sales Growth

“Being self-employed doesn’t mean you don’t have to go to work. I run pretty hard to see all my customers,” states Engelmann. This translates to piloting his 28’ International around his hometown of Jacksonville, IL one day a week, and making the 40-minute trip east to Springfield the other four days to see his 300 customers.

His stops include various automotive repair shops, as well as heavy-duty truck facilities and a Ryder moving vehicle fleet. Engelmann says he collects regular, weekly payments from about 85 percent of his customer base.

Personal Approach: Every Day Is A Winner

Although the personal touches are most profoundly demonstrated by the products he offers and the wish lists he tracks, Engelmann does a number of things to keep his visits enjoyable for all involved.

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