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Doug also does his best to provide personal service. “I probe (customers) all the time to find out what they’re looking for and when we finally nail that down, by that time they’ve pretty much decided what they want. This is not high-pressure sales. All I did was offer an alternative.” Later Doug brought this up again, saying, “This isn’t about me or about them, it’s about both of us. We’re here to do business together. Yes, they need to pay me, but I’m going to provide them a service … Every day I buy, I service, I sell, and I collect. My customer gets the feeling that I’m here for them.”
A special deal
When asked about special promotions, Doug said he doesn’t really offer any. “My job is to properly buy these tools. I will find a way to buy at the best price so I can pass that (savings) along to my customer. Being a buyer in this business is the most important thing that I do.”
He did, however, tell us about his Christmas special, saying “you either become Santa Claus or you get beat by Santa Claus.” Since many customers pay down their balance in preparation for holiday spending, his wife, Karen, who sells cosmetics, came up with an idea.
“She boxes up 12 different gifts, like sample packs … a 99-dollar box, a 149-dollar box, and guys can buy their Christmas gift for their wives on my truck. Twelve days before Christmas they start leaving a gift out every day before they go to work.” Doug says it’s worked out well for him and is popular with his customers, even though their wives figured out “it’s from the Mac man.”
Karen is an important part of Doug’s business, and she obviously understands it, not just because she’s a businesswoman herself, but also because she’s been around the tool sales business most of her life.
She is Doug’s book keeper, shipping/receiving department and general office manager. She even rides with Doug in the weeks leading up to Christmas to help customers choose their wives’ gift package.
It seems the secret to Doug Pennington’s success has been to make his business personal. He has to learn about tools from his customers, but what they get in return is not for sale in any store.