Mobile tool distribution has a bright future if 28-year-old Carrie Lake is representative of the new generation. In just a few months, this intelligent, personable and innovative young woman has more than doubled the customer count in a semi-rural section of northeastern Michigan that had gone...
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Mobile tool distribution has a bright future if 28-year-old Carrie Lake is representative of the new generation.
In just a few months, this intelligent, personable and innovative young woman has more than doubled the customer count in a semi-rural section of northeastern Michigan that had gone without a Mac Tools distributor for more than six years. Given the amount of time that had lapsed since the customers in this area had seen a Mac Tools truck, the ambitious Lake has managed to mend a trail of “broken fences,” rebuild the former customer base, and more than double it.
And given the fact that Lake had little more than her own determination, some familiarity with the local community and a supportive husband, her success demonstrates that the mobile tool distribution business holds great opportunity for young people willing to learn the business, put in the long hours and do what needs to be done to make their numbers.
Like many young people with limited resources, this Tawas City, Mich. native had tried a number of jobs before coming across the opportunity to invest in a mobile distributorship. After graduating from high school and getting married, she tried various retail sales jobs to supplement her husband’s construction worker income. She eventually earned a medical technician certificate and got a job as a medical staff assistant, but she still was not fulfilled, personally or financially.
When she learned through word of mouth that Mac Tools was looking for a mobile distributor, she was immediately interested. She remembered that as a child, her uncle, a railroad worker, used Mac Tools. She became more interested when she learned there was only one mobile tool distributor in her market. “There’s definitely a need for a Mac Tools distributor in this area,” she says.
The local economy has been improving, thanks to the revival of the automotive industry since the Great Recession hammered Michigan. With more people working, the auto service and repair shops have been getting busier. The tourism industry, which Tawas City and the surrounding Lake Huron communities heavily rely on, has also improved in recent years.
The more Lake learned about the Mac Tools franchise opportunity, the more sense it made to her. Having grown up in the area, she already knew many of the businesses.
She contacted Mac Tools, which arranged for her to ride with a mobile distributor in another market. Mac Tools wanted her to have a good idea about the job’s demands before having her come to the company headquarters for training.
And the more she learned, the more convinced she became that operating a Mac Tools franchise was for her. The company told her she would get out of the business what she put into it.
From day one, she has been working 80 hours a week. “I’m still learning a lot,” she says.
Assisted by her husband, who is familiar with automotive technology, she shopped for a tool truck and found a 16-foot-long, 1999 International model for $20,000. She was able to qualify for a conventional bank loan to buy the truck and the franchise starting inventory.
Lake set up a payment plan, and to date, she has been making payments without any difficulty. Given the fact that she’s still in a growth mode, her future is bright.
The right mindset from the start
Lake did not grow up in a business family, but she learned from her own work experiences what mindset she needs to succeed in business.
“You’ve got to be a people person,” she says. “You have to be motivated. You have to work to get paid. It’s not easy being your own boss.”
Mac Tools gave her a list of about 350 customers the former distributor served. Lake expected there would be some resistance when she went to visit former customers. She didn’t expect they would be meeting her truck with open arms after a six-year absence. But when they saw she kept coming back, week after week, at the same time of the week, they began to come out and see what she had to sell.
Tips on how to run promotions out of ever changing product displays to keep customers on their feet and increase impulse purchases.
Lake expected customers to ignore her, but she overcame that challenge with persistence.