One of Jaynes' customers, Chad Nelson, also encouraged him to stick it out. Nelson is a technician, a race car owner and an insurance salesman who offered to help Jaynes with marketing ideas. Like his district manager, his friend helped him see the "bigger picture" by talking with him about his business.
A new beginning
Jaynes reinvested in his business. He then began to implement sales and collections practices that his district manager discussed with him.
When he takes a payment from a customer, he now makes a habit of always asking if they want to pay the whole balance. This gives the customer the option of paying more than their minimum payment. Sometimes all it takes is putting the thought in someone's mind and they choose to pay off more of their balance, Jaynes notes.
Jaynes now watches his customers' paying habits closely. He does not extend credit until a customer has demonstrated good paying habits.
Only about 5 percent of his customers are still in need of training on how to pay, he says, but that 5 percent can cause enough problems to put a distributor's business in jeopardy.
Jaynes made it a point to pay attention to what his district manager and his friend told him about collections. He now offers customers 3-1/2- to 4-week terms for most tools, and he follows up aggressively to get paid. "I changed how I collected. I don't let customers dictate to me," he says.
"You cannot appeal to everybody all the time," he says.
When a customer falls behind on payments, Jaynes tries to help the customer rework their payments, but he is not shy about asking for the tool back.
One frustration is having customers turned down for credit. But Jaynes has learned that this can often be a blessing in disguise. It's always annoying when a customer who is turned down ends up buying a large ticket item from a competitor. However, he has also noticed in some cases the customer skips town. "It's for a reason they were not approved," he says.
2011 tool fair: a turning point
The 2011 Mac Tools Tool Fair was a turning point for Jaynes. His friend, Nelson, accompanied him to the tool fair and bought a toolbox from him while at the event. That wasn't the only sale Jaynes made while he was at the Tool Fair. He ended up selling three boxes, two scanners and four carts.
Where Jaynes expected to spend $5,000 at the tool fair, he ended up spending $32,000, much of it presold. "That was a great trip," Jaynes says.
He reached a milestone in 2011 when he finished paying his truck loan.
He has almost gotten his sales back up to 2007 levels. "It's getting better, slowly but surely," he says. "I think I'm being a lot smarter about the business. I'm being a lot smarter about sales."
A customer resource
Jaynes has also worked to position himself as a knowledge resource with his customers.
He attends the AAPEX and SEMA shows every year to meet equipment manufacturers face-to-face. He learns about new tools this way, and builds stronger relationships with vendors. He has made good contacts from Mayhew, Launch, Bosch/OTC, Power Probe and Redline Detection LLC.
He also attends the Mac Tools Field Excellence Meetings every eight weeks to keep up on what tools are new and the latest business practices.
"You've got to make yourself the go-to guy," he says. "If you set yourself up as a resource; they don't think of the other guys."
Jaynes thinks it is important to be the first in the market with new tools. Even if customers don't buy them right away, having them first builds credibility.
As scan tools have become popular in recent years, Jaynes has tapped his friend, Nelson, an experienced tech, as his scan tool specialist. "When it comes to scan tools, you can't fake it," Jaynes says. "There's so much to know about scan tools. If you don't do it every day, you don't know the ins and outs. There are so many changes and new equipment coming onto the market as of late it's hard to keep up with, that's where Nelson is very helpful."
He also does more "toting and promoting," something he never did his first year. "It's a hard habit to get into," he confesses.
When he orders things on promotion, he offers the sale price to customers even after the sale ends.
Jaynes makes full use of all Mac Tools promotions. Some of the better ones recently include buying a set of sockets and getting a free air ratchet, and a discount on drill bits.
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