Shout-out to the spouses

May 4, 2016
For many of you, your significant other plays a significant role behind the scenes to help run a successful mobile business.

Last month, I talked about having the right support to succeed as a mobile tool dealer. What I failed to emphasize was just how important your significant other can be to your business.

As a mobile tool distributor, you’re essentially a small business owner. While you may be a “one-man band” on the road, I’m sure many of you are getting extra help from someone near and dear to you: your spouse.

Husband-and-wife teams are a prominent duo seen walking any tool show floor, and with good reason. Your second half is constantly and consistently assisting with your business, and many know the inner workings of what needs to be done to keep your operation running smoothly.

While you may be dedicated to the customers on your route, I bet at least half of you have a significant other who supports you in one way or another.  Who handles special order shipments? Warranties? Inventory? Cash flow and bookkeeping? I’ve talked to a number of distributors whose wives also deliver special orders on non-route days for customers and assist with collecting, cleaning and organizing the truck.

“I basically do everything that he doesn’t have time to do,” explains Teri Gruba, wife of Cornwell Tools dealer Joe Gruba. “Shipping, receiving, all accounting, all bookwork, checking in inventory, emailing, phone calls, follow-up on customer back orders and issues, so he can focus his time with customers one-on-one.”

“Anything that he needs, I do, because it’s our livelihood. What he can’t do and I can do, I will do,” adds Gruba.

Which brings me to this month’s cover story, “Success with Selling Diagnostics.” I have no doubt about the success of the distributors interviewed in this story, and it’s important for you to adopt and perfect certain skills to sell a particular category of tool. (Read up on how to do this here/page xx.) But it was also obvious that these distributors aren’t running the show on their own. Most I talked with explicitly mentioned how much their wives help with the business.

Phrases like “I couldn’t do this without her” and “we work as a team” were said more than once. Not to mention, I worked behind the scenes with a number of these spouses for this article, to help set up interviews, gather additional information and address follow-up questions. This was in addition to their normal daily tasks mentioned above.

I’d like to know how your spouse helps you with the business. Is she your go-to for all internal operations? Or, does she have a few smaller dedicated tasks she assists with each week, like cleaning and organizing inventory on the truck? Big or small, her role surely helps you with the route. Send me a quick note at [email protected] and let me know. I look forward to your comments.

About the Author

Erica Schueller | Editorial Director | Commercial Vehicle Group

Erica Schueller is the Editorial Director of the Endeavor Commercial Vehicle Group. The commercial vehicle group includes the following brands: American Trucker, Bulk Transporter, Fleet Maintenance, FleetOwner, Refrigerated Transporter, and Trailer/Body Builders brands.

An award-winning journalist, Schueller has reported and written about the vehicle maintenance and repair industry her entire career. She has received accolades for her reporting and editing in the commercial and automotive vehicle fields by the Truck Writers of North America (TWNA), the International Automotive Media Competition (IAMC), the Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Awards and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Azbee Awards.

Schueller has received recognition among her publishing industry peers as a recipient of the 2014 Folio Top Women in Media Rising Stars award, acknowledging her accomplishments of digital content management and assistance with improving the print and digital products in the Vehicle Repair Group. She was also named one Women in Trucking’s 2018 Top Women in Transportation to Watch.

She is an active member of a number of industry groups, including the American Trucking Associations' (ATA) Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC),  the Auto Care Association's Young Auto Care Networking Group, GenNext, and Women in Trucking.

In December 2018, Schueller graduated at the top of her class from the Waukesha County Technical College's 10-week professional truck driving program, earning her Class A commercial driver's license (CDL).  

She has worked in the vehicle repair and maintenance industry since 2008.

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