Not knowing the tools did not intimidate him. Kolvoord simply asked his customers what they needed, and he learned about the tools from them. In four years, he has become recognized as an expert. "It's been a learning experience," he says.
One tech was having trouble getting an exhaust line removed without breaking it because it was rusty. The tech told Kolvoord a longer wrench would give him the leverage he needed. Kolvoord inspected the area under the hood and assured the tech he could get the right wrench.
He can do a lot of repairs himself on the truck.
A key to his success is his insistence on talking to every customer, one on one. He makes it a point to ask each customer how they are doing, if they have any warranty needs or any "issues."
Kolvoord also does his best to take a personal interest in all of his customers. He thinks technicians in general are genuine, likable people. "They're my customers. I put them above me," he said. He finds out what their personal interests are and tries to make conversation about things other than the business. "It's serious business, but you've still got to have some fun," he says.
Since starting the business four years ago, his sales have increased every month. When he started, he was told he should do 20 sales and 40 transactions per day. He surpassed these averages from day one, and he currently averages 28 sales and 50 transactions per day.
Kolvoord achieved Mac Tools Silver status in the first two years. In 2012, his sales grew by 25 percent over 2011, earning him Gold status. He currently averages $1,400 to $1,500 in sales per day.
Promotions help sell
Kolvoord takes full advantage of the special deals that Mac Tools offers. He delivers the Mac Tools monthly fliers by hand every month to all of his customers.
He sometimes allows a customer to borrow a tool before deciding if they want to buy it. He recently left a MAR100 coolant retainer and pressure tester with a customer. The tool was advertised in the December Mac Tools flier. "It sparked a lot of interest," Kolvoord says.
Kolvoord doesn't negotiate on price for anything except toolboxes. The only other exception is when a group of customers get together to buy high-ticket items, such as scan tools, as a group. "They (scan tools) have just come leaps and bounds," he says, noting that both the capabilities and the price points have improved. "That's helped a lot of guys do their jobs."
Kolvoord believes that most customers ask for a lower price because they have nothing to lose by asking. He doesn't let it bother him, and he doesn't believe he loses many sales based on price.
Kolvoord takes his tool bag into 80 percent of his locations to show new tools. The only stops he doesn't go into are those that he knows the majority of technicians are waiting to walk his truck as soon as he arrives.
"They can see the flier, but when you put the tool in their hand, then they say it's pretty nice."
Kolvoord has a policy of not looking in his customers toolboxes to see what they need since he thinks it violates their sense of privacy.
Efficient management crucial
The Mac Tools mobile operating system software makes it easy for Kolvoord to keep track of his collections and receivables. His wife, Elaine, updates his collections and receivables daily, allowing him to know what is outstanding. "If you don't stay on top of (receivables), it'll kill you," he says.
The Mac Tools software also includes schematics of tools that he can print out and show customers. This way, if a tool needs a certain component, the customer can order that component instead of sending the tool for repair or buying a new tool.
The software also makes it easy for Kolvoord to know who bought what item in the past. When tool manufacturers introduce add-ons such as a hook for a flashlight, he knows who to approach.
He frequently breaks sets of tools to accommodate requests. "I have extras of a lot of stuff," he says. "I keep extras of every tool bit. Rarely do I not have a tool for these guys."
He invested in a credit card reader app for his smart phone, and it has paid off since about half of his sales are paid by credit card.
A sincere personal tough goes a long way.