A distributor now for eight years in the Cleveland-area, independent mobile distributor Tim Biranowski has developed a process for "training" his customers to help him deliver better service.
With an inventory consisting of light duty automotive repair tools and equipment and heavy duty items, Biranowski splits his route between urban and rural stops. His path follows through three Ohio counties near Cleveland and includes stops anywhere from dealerships, smaller independent repair shops and body shops to heavy duty equipment and farming.
Biranowski keeps his customers in mind not only when he sells them a tool, but for any service his customers need after the product has been purchased.
"It's more than just selling the tools, it's being there with the guys when they have problems and issues, and taking care of that," he said.
For advice on distributors starting out, or looking to help their business, Biranowski advises that it's important to listen to customers. "They're going to tell you what they're looking for, what they want out of you," he said. "Follow through with what you promise. Be on the up-and-up with these guys. Don't lie. Don't tell stories."
That means not only making the sale and catering to the customer, but also following up with good service.
"I've always been in the service field, so my part of the deal is I take care of the tools. If you've got a problem or an issue, I'll work my way through it, and take care of the problem."
One trick Biranowski has learned? He's trained his customers to get involved with ordering, so he can cater to them. Biranowski keeps a notebook where he writes down every customer's product order request.
"I tell the guys if you don't see me write it down in my order book, it's your fault," said Biranowski, laughing. "I get the guys involved with it as much as I can, and that makes a huge difference. A lot of the guys say 'Pull your book out, and write it down.'
"It's training the customers, and taking care of the customers."