You can look at any number of reasons as to why Beta Distribution USA, which is the U.S. division of the Italian tool company Beta Tools, chose to open their first ProCare store in Knoxville, TN.
The independently owned and operated storefront does reside in the targeted southeastern part of the country. This region also holds a healthy contingent of motorsports fans, which was another element the company looked for in establishing their first glass-front location in the U.S.
Additionally, the size is just right. The 300,000 people living within the city, as well as an equal number of individuals in the surrounding area, means there are plenty of vehicles that will need to be repaired and maintained. So this should translate to a steady demand for the professional quality tools and equipment that are needed in order to perform such services.
But the real reason has to be the colors. A new business flying orange and white in the homeland of the University of Tennessee Volunteers football team can be nothing but well received and well patronized. At least that’s what Brad Rutherford, president of Beta ProCare of Knoxville hopes. This former Honda dealership service manager investigated other tool distributor franchises, but was captivated by the Beta concept.
“I used to work on a crew that raced Italian motorcycles,” explains Rutherford. “This meant I needed a number of specialty tools that weren’t readily available here in the U.S. That’s how I got to be familiar with Beta.
“So in looking to get more of these tools, I started talking with Brian (Gale), and he let me know about plans to establish a Beta presence in the U.S. The mix of knowing how good these products are, along with the fact that I’m kind of a tool geek, led me to investigate and eventually commit to opening this store.”
Although Rutherford’s franchise is the first of its kind here in the States, there are over 1,700 such stores in Italy alone. This means several support mechanisms are already in place, such as signage, displays and product placement strategies. Some additional advantages of the store include:
- Numbers on the wall above each group of products that correspond with the chapter in Beta’s catalog where those particular tools are listed.
- Beta makes their own line of toolboxes, which can be customized at the store with special handles, tops or fronts.
- The store stocks parts for repairing tools.
- Application charts show what’s available within a particular category when it comes to working with different fasteners.
- For several items Beta offers a good-better-best selection, with differences ranging from the type of handle to a tool's finish. An advantage in this instance, and several others like specialty tools, is the additional space a store provides when it comes to displaying a broader range of products. This allows customers to see and handle them before purchasing. And in addition to the benefits of having professional technicians pick up a tool, this dynamic helps limit returns and improves customer satisfaction.
- The store will service any air tool or torque wrench, regardless of the brand.
- Customers have access to shop equipment, which can be tried out or demonstrated right in the store.
In realizing the unique operating parameters of selling professional tools and equipment in this country, two mobile trucks also work in conjunction with the store. The initial goal of these trucks is simply to collect shop contact information that can be used in mailings and in establishing routes. The drivers of these trucks will be employees of the store and compensated with a salary, plus commission, on what they sell.
“The great thing about the trucks,” states Rutherford, “is that they allow customers to continue paying for their tools with weekly payments, but there’s access to a much larger inventory than what’s stocked on those shelves. If the truck doesn’t have what they need, they can come here.
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