It is often said that luck plays a big role in a person’s success. What is less often said is that what a person does with their luck plays an even bigger role. In Shane Sutton’s case, good fortune did not become apparent until he put the lessons he learned as a Cornwell Quality Tools district...
Welcome! This content is housed in a special section of our website designed for mobile tool distributors selling tools and equipment into the automotive aftermarket.
Articles written for mobile distributors are now only accessible with a unique login, to ensure this information stays exclusive to the mobile distributor community and isn't available to the public.
By registering to access this special section, you get full access to all of the content in VehicleServicePros.com magazine, along with exclusive online content that gives you an inside scoop on hot new products, exclusive stories, sales tips, technical information and more!
You will also need to be a qualified subscriber of VehicleServicePros.com to gain access. Subscribe to VehicleServicePros.com now or have your subscription ID ready.
It only takes a few minutes to register and verify your credentials. Register only once and simply use your login information when you return.
Login now to access exclusive content and learn more about how to make your mobile tool distribution business more efficient and profitable!
In four weeks, Sutton sold 1,500 raffle tickets. This translated into a hefty amount of extra cash for the month of December. Because of it, he says he was able to escape the sales dip that occurs in December due to Christmas and New Year’s. Sutton does not rearrange his schedule to make up for visits lost to holidays; he simply tells these stops he will see them the following week.
During December, he also delivered free cookies and calendars to all of his customers. His wife assembled 600 to 700 baggies with cookies. Buying, assembling and delivering the cookies takes time and money, but Sutton sees this as part of relationship building.
Sutton also makes sure all customers get Cornwell catalogs, which the company provides him for free. “That’s free marketing,” he says.
Promotions drive sales
Products on promotion are placed on two toolboxes near the truck entrance. Sutton says it’s important to highlight promotions because customers always want to know what’s on sale. Sometimes, when a customer needs a tool, they ask him when it will be on sale. Cornwell has several products on promotion every month.
He changes the displays monthly, a strategy he claims gets people to spend more time on the truck.
“Toting and promoting” also increases sales opportunities.
Sutton has tools displayed individually and in sets throughout his truck. Most tools are displayed in sets. “There have been quite a few times somebody will want one little item; I’ll show it to him in a set and he’ll say, ‘I’ll take the whole set.’”
He makes it a habit of asking customers how they are doing with tools he sold them. With his technician background, Sutton can often answer questions about what tools are needed for specific jobs.
As scan tools have evolved, Sutton has found it beneficial to allow customers to borrow new scan tools for a week to see if they like them. Scan tools are among the higher ticket items he offers. He has found that individual preferences can vary with scan tools.
“There are a lot of good new products out there,” Sutton says. “They (the manufacturers) are always updating their product lines.”
He also makes it a habit of spending time talking with customers about things other than tools. This is part of relationship building.
No shortcuts on the job
The most important lesson of all that Sutton gained from his district manager role was not to take any shortcuts on the job.
In addition to spending time chatting with customers, other aspects of the job require attention.
There is a lot of time spent searching for tools that aren’t stocked on the truck.
Ordering inventory is also time-consuming, as is restocking the truck.
Since most of the manufacturers he carries offer to repair broken tools, Sutton accepts most repair requests, which take extra time. “It’s a service to keep them coming back,” he says.
Selling large items like toolboxes takes extra time. When he sells a toolbox, Sutton has to drive 20 miles to get it from his local distribution center, rearrange the truck to make room for the toolbox, deliver it to the customer, then rearrange the truck again.
All the time-consuming work pays off in the end in the form of higher sales.
Credit issues challenge dealers
Knowing how much credit to extend a customer is another important part of the job. Knowing which customers to extend credit to is a skill that a dealer acquires with time.
Sutton tries to offer flexible payment plans with customers, as he has learned that customers appreciate this. One customer recently wanted a scan tool that cost nearly $600. Sutton agreed to accept $100 in weekly payments.
The most important thing Sutton learned as a district manager is the importance of taking the time needed to do everything the right way. A tool dealer simply cannot take short cuts. This is what separates the successful dealers from the losers.
As his business grows, he will consider hiring someone to help him with orders, arranging displays and making special deliveries. “It would free up a lot of my time,” he says.
Sutton’s experience as a district manager also taught him the importance of education. This is a key reason he attends the Cornwell Expo every year.
Shane Sutton considers himself lucky in the midst of tornado damage.
"What If on pay day your boss said he was short this week and could not pay you? It's the same for the Cornwell dealer."