Social Media Has Many Uses For Tool Distributors, Including Tracking Down Skips

May 2, 2013
Just about everyone has a Facebook page, providing personal information.

Social media has become a great tool in our business. If you’ve attended aftermarket trade shows in recent years, you’ve had a chance to learn how you can use Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to promote your business. Another important use for social media is to track down people who owe you money.

With over a billion Facebook users, I have found Facebook a great way to find people who try to skip on their payments.

Of course, you still have to spend time contacting the people to get your money or return your tool. But in many cases, all the person needs to know is that you are still after them to convince them to pay for or return your tool.

Case in point: I tracked a guy down

Not long ago, I had a situation with a 20-something customer. This man was a customer of mine for nearly a year before he decided to stop paying for a toolbox. Anyone in this business has encountered a similar situation. (I eventually found out that he had a girlfriend who was costing him a lot of money.)

One day, this guy left the shop where I sold him the toolbox and no one knew where he was. He still owed me $2,400 for the toolbox and I had not seen him for three months when I started looking for him. It wasn’t hard to find him on Facebook. He had plenty of pictures. And I found everything I needed to know and more about this guy just from his Facebook page.

One picture in particular on his Facebook page was a picture of his truck in front of a house, on which I could see the address. There was also a picture of his girlfriend, along with her name. I searched the girlfriend’s name in Google and found an address that matched the numbers on the house.

There was also a picture of his daughter in a soccer uniform. The uniform identified his geographic area.

Help from a friend

I showed the girlfriend’s picture to a friend of mine who said he knew this woman’s ex-husband.

My friend then went to an auto parts store near the guy’s house, and learned where the guy was working. This friend of mine happens to work in law enforcement. When he called the guy at work and told him he had to return my toolbox, the guy listened. I didn’t have to wait long for him to return my toolbox.

Facebook does have security settings where you can set who is able to view your profile. The good news for mobile distributors is not enough people are using the security settings option, making pertinent information available to help you track down skips.

I was able to help out another tool distributor find someone on Facebook. When this distributor told me about a guy who left a shop owing him money, I told him to give me the guy’s name. All I did was put the guy’s name in Facebook, and I found his Facebook page. I simply forwarded this page via my smart phone to the distributor.

The guy’s Facebook page had plenty of information about him. There were pictures of relatives, pictures of cars, even the nursing school that his wife was attending.

It wasn’t hard for my friend to find this guy’s home address. When he visited him at home, he got his money.

Nothing is a cure all

Not everyone uses social media, so it’s certainly not a “cure all” for our industry’s collection problems.

Nor do I claim that social media’s most important use for our industry is in collections. Social media has become an important marketing tool for all types of businesses. It provides all businesses a great way to interact with customers.

I spend time on Facebook every week, learning what my customers and my friends are up to and letting them know what I’m doing.

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