For Scott Manning, a Mac Tools mentor distributor, there is no mystery to success in mobile tool distribution. Manning, based in Kent, Ohio near Akron, vigilantly focuses on “the basics” of the business. By paying careful attention to customer payment terms, collections, customer...
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For Scott Manning, a Mac Tools mentor distributor, there is no mystery to success in mobile tool distribution. Manning, based in Kent, Ohio near Akron, vigilantly focuses on “the basics” of the business. By paying careful attention to customer payment terms, collections, customer creditworthiness, what’s selling and his customers’ needs, Manning has managed to grow his business in double digits almost every year since he became a distributor in 1995.
But spend a day with Manning as he hauls his 30-foot trailer in a Ford pickup truck, and it becomes obvious that “the basics” are not a simple matter. The soft-spoken and business-like Manning brings a genuine interest in technicians’ tool needs when he arrives at each shop. And the technicians waste no time showing him what they are working on, knowing that he is all ears.
While talking with a technician doing an underhood repair recently, the customer realized his eight-year-old air ratchet wasn’t driving rivets properly. Manning took a close look at the rivets and was able to immediately suggest a ratchet that would do the job.
This interest in the customer’s daily tasks keeps Manning’s conversations focused on business when he visits his stops. Customers know that Manning wants them to be able to do their repairs efficiently. This has fostered a high level of customer loyalty, which is evident inside his spacious, well-stocked trailer, with numerous Mac Tools sales awards adorning the walls. An even greater testament is the role Manning has assumed as a distributor mentor; he has mentored six other distributors over the years, most of whom he keeps in touch with.
Manning doesn’t dismiss other attributes a mobile distributor needs to succeed, such as strong verbal communication skills and inventory management. He gained these skills in his early work years, and he believes it gave him a good foundation for mobile tool sales.
He may have even inherited some sales skills from his father, a billboard advertising salesman.
But when pressed to say what the most important characteristic a person needs to succeed in mobile tool sales, Manning has a ready answer: “All of it goes to drive,” he says. “You’ve got to be driven to do this. You cannot take this half-way.”
Manning demonstrated ambition at an early age, getting a job in a tire repair shop as a teenager while growing up in Chardon, Ohio. But he never expected to own his own business.
After serving four years in the Army, Manning enrolled in Kent State University with plans to study criminal justice. After two years, he decided school wasn’t for him. “I was more of a ‘hard knocks’ kind of guy,” he says. He took a job selling antique weapons for an arms dealer, and he excelled at it.
“It was a lot of fun, but it was a lot of hours and time away from home,” he says. Three years later, he took a job as a warehouse manager for a manufacturing company. In the next three years, he became a husband and a father of two young children, and he began to seek a more lucrative job. “The only way I was going to feel fulfilled (financially and personally) was to have something on my own,” he says.
Once he came across the chance to become a Mac Tools distributor, Manning’s future was set. After meeting the district manager and spending a day on a route, “I liked what I saw and jumped in head first,” he recalls. The company was looking for an Akron-area distributor after a distributor who served the area for 10 years left to seek a career change.
Manning realized the Mac Tools brand carries a lot of weight in Ohio, where the company is based. The previous Mac Tools distributor had a good reputation and the territory had only been vacant for six months. With Mac Tools’ Westerville, Ohio headquarters about an hour away, Manning knew support was readily available.
He also recognized that his previous success in sales and inventory management gave him a good foundation in mobile tool sales.