Mines, Marinas And More

Mac Tools' top distributors offer insight on servicing non-automotive customers.

Tool distributors around the country are seeing the same trends. Passenger cars and light trucks are lasting longer, and so are their parts and components.

This translates to fewer parts replacements and repairs, and greater attention to maintenance-based services. In order to capture these lucrative jobs, shops have to be pro-active in their marketing efforts.

Unfortunately, not all of them are, and the result is a roller coaster type of effect on automotive repair. Shops will have more cars than they can park one week, and technicians working half-days the next. The impact on distributors is obvious. If your customers aren't working, there are fewer dollars available for tool purchases.

So, one way to lessen your dependence on the automotive shop is by bringing some diversity to your customer base. In helping to reinforce this principle, we were able to tap into Mac Tools' top 10 dealers in discussing what "other" shops they visit, what they're selling to these customers, and what you should know in going after these sales opportunities.

David Musil; Crete, NE

Other than the obvious reasons, I service MARINAS because:

"People think that Nebraska is very dry and flat with corn growing everywhere. In reality, there is water all over Nebraska. The Platte River runs across the middle of the state, there are hundreds of rivers and lakes, and there are state parks and recreation areas everywhere."

They buy:

"I generally sell the same types of products as I do to my automotive and body shop customers. Marinas generally do all of the work on the boats themselves, so they're mechanics as well as body guys. Examples of some different tools that I sell to marinas are capacitance meters, vacuum pressure kits and smaller orbital sanders."

They are:

"… just like automotive technicians, except they fix boats. Also, they are all certified technicians, so it seems like a lot of the same principles apply to fixing boats as fixing automobiles."

Daryl Beemer; Chapman, KS

Other than the obvious reasons, I service a MILITARY AVIATION shop because:

"There are a number of helicopters coming back from the desert to be repaired and maintained at Ft. Riley. Security has been tighter since 9/11, as Ft. Riley used to be an open post, but now I have to prove who I am, and there's armed security walking around.

"I also had some paper work to take care of and hoops to jump through in keeping the shop on my route, but now with all the mobilized troops, there are higher paid civilian contractors doing the work. It's not something you want to brag about, but the war has been good for my business."

They buy:

"The biggest sellers are probably ratchet drivers and pliers that won't mark the wires. This is important because all of their work has to pass inspection. The access is also tighter in these aircraft than on cars or trucks, so things like magnifying glasses, 1/4" 12-point sockets and wrenches, 7/32" ratchets and small files are always in demand. Really, I'm constantly learning what they need."

They are:

"… more heavily inspected than any other customers on my route. They're held more accountable because, obviously, there's much more at stake."

Joe Lizotte; Plymouth, CT

Other than the obvious reasons, I service MACHINE SHOPS because:

"These guys are more stable than other customers on my route, so there's not as much tracking down of skip accounts, and they're loyal."

They buy:

"… a lot of basic, standard-sized hand tools, different pullers and smaller air tools like grinders and drills. They don't buy toolboxes because there's not as much room and they don't need the security. Portable LED drop lights are popular because they stay charged longer. I've also noticed that they buy quite a bit of stuff for personal use."

They are:

"These guys tend to spend less because they don't need as much. They do, however, demand a high level of customer service in order to keep the business."

Todd Smith; Duchesne, UT

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