Larry Moskalyk, an independent mobile distributor in Largo, FL, learned early in his business career not to take anything for granted in running a business. He learned to pay attention to changing business conditions and to take corrective action quickly. These lessons led him to a successful career...
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Larry Moskalyk, an independent mobile distributor in Largo, FL, learned early in his business career not to take anything for granted in running a business. He learned to pay attention to changing business conditions and to take corrective action quickly. These lessons led him to a successful career in mobile tool sales in highly competitive Central Florida.
At age 63, he feels confident working as an independent distributor and looks forward to continued success. He learned early on in his business career the importance of staying on top of market conditions, keeping aware of what operating systems and methods are available, and reacting quickly to change. He was able to survive the recession that hammered the Central Florida economy.
In the two decades he spent working in the appliance and ceramics industries before going into business for himself, he paid attention to what does and doesn't work in running a business.
By the time he decided to start his own business 15 years ago, he was well versed in several key areas, such as shipping and receiving, sales, customer service, personnel management, inventory management and retail merchandising. He wanted his own business to have more control over his income and his personal freedom. One thing he didn't know was what type of business made sense for someone like himself; someone with lots of drive but limited startup capital.
The right fit
In researching opportunities, Moskalyk came across mobile tool sales. Given his background in retail operations and merchandising, he saw mobile tool sales as a good fit. He hooked up with one of the national flags that did not then have a truck in the greater Tampa market in 1998. He cashed in a portion of his retirement money to get the down payment on his first truck and his starting inventory.
To minimize his tax obligations, he took a five-year lease on the truck, which had a $65,000 purchase price. "It's a 100 percent write off," he said of the leasing option. "If you buy it, you can only claim the depreciation."
Moskalyk took to the business immediately and was surprised by his own success. He sold his starting inventory in four weeks, a lot sooner than he expected. He credits his early success to his people skills, which he honed working in appliances and ceramics.
A key lesson he learned in his early years was a laid-back sales approach. He walks into every location and strikes up a conversation about topics not related to business. After this, he moves slowly to business topics.
He has never "toted and promoted" as a regular practice. He only brings a new tool into a shop if it has a new feature. "Carrying stuff in is pretty tough for what the take is," he says.
"Don't be pushy with the guys," he says. "Guys will tell me what they want. In his (the customer's) mind, there's a reason why he's not taking it right now. It's easy to sell the stuff, but collecting the money takes tact."
He made it a point to find areas of common interest with his customers. As a smoker, he asked them for tips on how to quit smoking. As an occasional lottery ticket buyer, he found lotto a popular topic among service techs.
As a race car enthusiast, he made it a point to talk about drag racing with the many techs that share this interest, particularly those in the restoration shops that are prevalent in Central Florida. He carried around pictures of his 1977 Corvette which he had rebuilt and repainted; a lot of guys loved to see it. "Buy someone a beer at the race track and it can go a long way," he notes. "It's all PR. They will pay a little extra because of you, yourself."
He even began carrying dog biscuits for the shop owners' pets; in some cases, the way to a man's heart is through his dog.
Key selling points: price and warranty
Moskalyk also brought a deep understanding of the importance of offering a fair price and honoring warranties. He was able to win customers from competitors who failed in these areas, especially warranties. Moskalyk noticed that some mobile distributors view warranties as a nuisance and treat them accordingly. He won customers by honoring warranties on tools that he did not sell.
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