Every month we interview a successful tool distributor and tell you how they meet the challenges, nurture the business, and deal with some of the most demanding customers in the world. Last summer we began a search for the tool man’s tool man (or woman): an ambassador who projects a positive image...
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Even so, he’s found a few skips on Facebook. “You can send them messages telling them they still owe you money, and they’ll message you back ‘OK.’ Then they’ll put you on the !#% list and won’t ever talk to you again. But you can still find them.”
Facebook has also turned out to be a good sales tool. “I’ll put new products on Facebook with a special price. If a customer gets on the truck and says they saw it on Facebook, I’ll give them that price.” He has sold four Power Probe kits that way, in one day.
When asked about selling toolboxes, Rick says he treats them like an impulse item. “I’ve never asked for a toolbox sale and I’ve never pushed anybody to buy anything. Sometimes I’ll tease a guy whose box is old and beat up, telling him he needs a new one. If they want it, they’ll come see me about it.”
Once the seed is planted, Rick makes sure he’s ready for the sale. “Last year I started ordering custom boxes. I built boxes that I like and put them on the truck, and a guy would walk out to the truck and say ‘I like that box, I’m going to buy it.’” Last year he sold 14 custom toolboxes.
Other impulse items on his truck include magnetic hooks, flexible flashlight holders, beef jerky, a wide assortment of knives, and bags of apple chips, which he didn’t think would sell. “I sold 96 bags in three days. With a buck on each bag, that’s a pretty good profit margin.” The apple chips were his wife Laura’s idea, and even though her direct contribution to the business is minor, Rick pointed out that he wouldn’t be this successful without her help and understanding.
Another important person in his business is his Cornwell customer service rep, Charlene Stankiewicz, who said Rick is “always professional, easy to work with and does what he needs to do to help his customers.”
ENJOYING THE RIDE
Rick Brown has made so much progress in such a short time that other distributors in his area think he’s preparing to become the district manager. But that’s not his goal. “I’ve thought about it, but I like what I’m doing. I couldn’t be an employee. Maybe in a few years if I burn out on this … I’ve achieved all I set out to do in this job; finished number one, cracked the million dollar mark, (and) I have some of the best customers in the world. Now I’m just enjoying the ride. This year I plan on taking a vacation. I’m taking my wife on a cruise ‘cause the last three or four years I’ve always focused on being number one. She understood, so she deserves it.”
Enjoy the trip Rick, you’ve earned it.