It's not every day you run into a female mobile tool distributor. And regardless of gender, there are even fewer with the attitude, approach and proven results of Mac Tools distributor Jenivive Barrera. Her upbeat attitude and constant determination have driven her mobile distributor business to new levels. Whether it's her consistency in visiting customers, or a magnetic energy that attracts their business, Jenivive Barrera knows exactly what products her customers want, and she's always ready to deliver.
There's No Stopping Her
"Working as a technician for eight years really helped me when I made the transition to my own mobile tool business," states Barrera. "My background in the automotive industry has definitely been a key part of my success."
Barrera's roots in the marketplace began by walking into a dealership and asking for a job. Knowing little about automotive repair, she faced a significant obstacle. However, after nearly 2 days of interviewing she walked from the dealership with a chance to learn the industry, and a trade. Barrera began training with a certified technician and attending classes regularly at a local technical school. However, Barrera would eventually yearn for more.
Enter Brain Dillman, the Mac Tools distributor that regularly visited the dealership where Barrera worked. He brought up the idea of running a route, which, after a bit of convincing from Dillman, resulted in Barrera leaving her job as a technician, and getting onboard a Mac Tools truck.
For three years, she ran throughout the west side of Madison, WI and its surrounding suburbs as a Mac employee, before transitioning to an independent Mac Tools franchise. She points to support from Mac Tools, her district manager and fellow Mac distributors in the area as vital to her success.
"The other MAC dealers in the area are really supportive. Instead of competing with each other, we support each other. If I have a friend who happens to work in a fellow Mac distributor's area, I'll definitely direct their business to that person. It helps to promote Mac Tools and, most importantly, better service the customer."
Barrera attributes her ability and desire to learn and advance in the industry to working a variety of different jobs. These experiences have meshed well in preparing her to handle a mobile tool business.
"I knew it was the right time to make a change, and I just went for it. But I think one of the most important traits for a mobile dealer to have is the ability to multi-task. You have to be able to manage a ton of different things at once in order to be successful," she states.
"Also, being a mechanic for almost 10 years means that I've used most of the tools I sell, so I understand their uses and can really explain the key features to my customers. And they've grown to appreciate my honesty when it comes to matching tools with particular mechanical problems. They trust that I'll recommend the right tool for the job, not just the most expensive one."
A direct and to-the-point approach also translates to Barrera wasting very little of her customer's precious time. When customers are really busy, she leaves a flier and asks them to call with any questions or problems. Due to her consistency in visiting shops at the same time every week, they know she'll be back to address any tool and equipment needs.
A Part Of The Community
Barrera visits a wide variety of shops on her weekly route, including:
- Automotive repair shops.
- Marine businesses.
- Diesel shops.
- Construction sites.
- Salvage yards.
- School bus repair shops.
Her consistent presence in several of the smaller communities on her route has also provided Barrera with an added advantage over her competition. Because she knows personal information that her customers have shared with her, she can talk with them like a friend or family member in learning what's going on in their lives beyond the shop. This has paid dividends in a number of ways.
Wednesday nights have become a ritual for Barrera and her customers. The local Quaker Steak & Lube, a motorcycle, automobile and sport-themed restaurant and bar, hosts Bike Night every Wednesday. Barrera takes advantage of the event by setting up her truck, as hundreds of bikers and automotive enthusiasts come to check out the cars and bikes on display. Barrera allows attendees to get on her truck, ask questions and, of course, purchase tools and equipment.
"My regular customers know where they can find me on Wednesday nights, and many just stop by to visit, as well as ask questions now that they have some down time and neither of us are in as much of a rush. It's just another way that I try to accommodate my customers," states Barrera.
"Similarly, when I'm at the shop I don't waste their time, and they don't waste mine," she continues. "But I'll do whatever I can to get them what they want, even if that means dropping off tools after hours, or deviating from my normal route to make special deliveries, regardless of where I might actually be headed that particular day."
Mixing It Up
Most of the shops Barrera visits are pretty busy, so a number of her customers don't always have time to get on her truck. In response, she's taken the tote n' promote principle a step further.
Instead of coming back later, Barrera bought a wheeled cart that she fills up each week with new and innovative products. As she's talking with a customer, they can see everything that's new without leaving the service bay.
"My customers count on me being there at a specific time each week with new products, and I am," she states. "I've built up a trust with my customers, and I know that they need and depend on me to be there, so I feel like I'd be letting them down if I wasn't. This goes a long way, especially in covering warranties or delivering new tools that they need to perform a specific service. In the end, it just really solidifies my relationship with the customer."
Organized And Accessible
Every few weeks Barrera takes the time to really sort through the tools and equipment that have become jumbled on her truck, and organize them for easy customer access. Additionally, her truck's back door features a number of shoe organizers filled with a collection of smaller tools. Because the shoe slots are clear, customers can see each and every product inside them.
For additional display purposes, Barrera purchased a wire cabinet with shelves, with each shelf serving a different purpose. The top shelves are all the sale items for that week. The bottom shelves are items that she needs to order more of, or fix. This systems helps keep things organized while she's on the route and doesn't have a lot of time. In the end, it's another aspect of her business that ultimately benefits the customer with fewer misplaced tools and a more targeted inventory.
Jenivive Barrera recently received Gold status for the year, meaning she is one of the top mobile distributors in her district. It's an accomplishment she's proud of, as she's earned it by going above and beyond her job description on a daily basis to establish a connection with each and every one of her customers.
Because she's able to get them the tools they need in a timely fashion, while still being personable and showing her customers that she really does care about them, their families, their success and their business, she's reaped the benefits.
One can only wonder what would have happened if that dealership would have put her in sales training? Her customers and Mac Tools are pretty happy they didn't.