Change things around

Oct. 31, 2008
Evaluate your prime real estate and stock-rotation schedule

Imagine you are the new tech in the shop, and you see the tool truck pull in the yard and come to a stop. Instantly thoughts go through your mind just as if they were leaves being blown around by the wind. It is the first time that you will go onboard a tool truck and all that you have been told is just moments away. As you approach the truck, you are full of anticipation and crowded by a couple veteran techs for support, poking and nudging.

That experience of a new technician stepping on the truck for the first time plays out every day. People tend to retain first-time experiences, and often use it as a gauge from that point forward. Our trucks have a great deal to offer technicians whether they are fresh out of school or new to our routes, and it often takes weeks for them to explore our entire inventory and various stock locations.

With how much we offer, how could jumping on the tool truck become stale?

Many years ago while preparing for a promo, I was looking for a place that I could display a creeper seat that would draw attention. I decided that strapping it down on the floor in the back of the truck would give it ideal exposure. Throughout the next couple of days, I stared in amazement as few techs made mention of the creeper seat they were sitting on, but asked about what they could see for the first time being at that height. Product from the lower shelves sold like never before and seemed to become the hot selling items along with a couple of seats.

Reviewing what I witnessed, I thought back to when I first hit the street with my new inventory and how the techs would go front to back, searching the mass of tools. I realized that my prime shelves had lost their appeal. The techs that frequently visited already knew what they would find on the eye-level shelves.

Marketers tell us that the average shopper views items within a certain range according to their height; as salesman we should keep this in mind when displaying our products. There is no denying that the top couple of shelves are “prime real estate.” Consider the front line of cars at a car dealership on a busy road, it has the most exposure for the largest crowd. This real estate has a cost to it and if a product is displayed in this space it had better turn a dime.

Just as the car dealer changes the front line to catch the eye, we should rotate the products that are offered on our shelves. Imagine a car dealer that never changed his front line, after traveling by day after day you would lose the urge to look to see what is on display — you would already know. It is no different for a tech that visits a tool truck on a weekly basis where the inventory is not rotated (at the very least once a year), the trip out to the truck will become more of a way to kill time than for browsing and purchasing.

Tomorrow before you start your day, unlock the door and look around and see what catches your eye first. Really scrutinize what your truck looks like to a regular customer.

• Could the door area use a different look to help promote product, or display certain literature?
• What products have remained in the same spot since arriving on the shelves?
• Are there packages that are torn or have excessive truck wear that could be placed on clearance or moved down a shelf or two?
• Are the shelves organized with the tools laid out so that the customer can easily view and handle them?
• Is dust starting to build up (which reveals non moving items)?
• Ask, “What have I changed about my store that will draw customers?”

One downside of having a mobile store is the vibration from constant movement, as well as jarring hits from potholes, and the like, knocking things around. Use the downside as a positive to keep reminding you to rotate the stock and make every shelf “prime real estate.”

Joe Poulin is a mobile tool distributor based in Gray, Maine, for Mac Tools. 

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