Distributor doesn’t fear cold; Promo shelf warms up sales

Kraig Thoreson, a Matco Tools distributor in Owatonna, Minn., near the Twin Cities, has found success with a designated “promo shelf” on his truck where customers go to see what tools are on special. The six-foot-long shelf on the floor close to the entrance door and is highlighted with a sign, “Promo Featured Items.” There are anywhere between 12 to 20 items, most of which are discounted.

At the present time, the shelf includes battery booster packs, ratcheting wrench sets, screwdriver sets, cordless power tools and Q-bond (a two-part epoxy).

Thoreson, now in his 27th year as a distributor, changes the “promo featured” items weekly and biweekly. Changing the items sustains customer interest in the shelf. Not every item on the shelf is discounted, but most are. The shelf has proven to be a great way for Thoreson to pass along manufacturer discounts and to move items that have been slow sellers.

The “promo shelf” works hand-in-hand with Thoreson’s “tote tray,” which contains the tools that he “totes and promotes” when visiting stops. A big believer in “toting and promoting,” Thoreson always carries some items from the “promo” shelf when he’s “toting and promoting.

“You can sell just about anything out of the tote tray,” Thoreson says. “Not all guys (customers) can make it out to the truck.” This is especially true during the very cold weeks.

Thoreson realizes that not all mobile distributors share his belief in toting and promoting, and he finds this surprising.

Thoreson’s belief in “toting and promoting” and in promoting items aggressively in the truck may be one reason he doesn’t dread the exceptionally cold weather as much as some distributors. While many distributors interviewed by Professional Distributor claim this winter’s unusually frigid temperatures have been bad for business, Thoreson has the opposite take. Temperatures have been 10 to 20 degrees F below zero in his area for several weeks. He has done especially well selling battery booster packs, battery chargers, hooded sweat shirts and energy drinks.

“I love the cold weather,” he says. The repair shops he visits are busier than normal because of vehicles not starting and getting into accidents. “It (the cold weather) keeps everybody busy,” he says.