The evolution of big-ticket tool sales

Oct. 5, 2016
When it comes to products with a higher price tag on the truck, Cornwell Tools dealer Tim Bader has shifted his focus from selling toolboxes to scan tools.

When Cornwell Tools dealer Tim Bader got back into the tool business, he wanted to make the Cornwell brand recognizable to customers, since there were no other dealers previously in the Minot, North Dakota-area.

To do this, he uses toolboxes as part of his branding initiative.

To promote additional sales, he takes photos of his customers with their new storage purchases, and shows these images on a TV monitor mounted near the front entrance of his truck.

“A lot of guys hadn’t even heard of it,” Bader says, of the Cornwell Tools brand. “So the people would come on here and look at a toolbox. ‘Well, have you sold any?’ Yeah, look at the monitor, there’s all kinds of them in town.”

While Bader continues to sell storage, he acknowledges there’s been a slowdown in toolbox sales. This decline has occurred for two reasons, according to Bader: he has saturated his market; and the local economy, sustained on the oil and natural gas industry, has also slowed.

Because of this, Bader has found other means to supplement these sales on the truck by stocking and selling scan tools.

In particular, Bader has had success selling to his heavy trucking customers with options like the Bosch Diagnostics [ESI]tronic and CanDo International’s HD Pro II. He has also sold a number of Launch Tech’s Pad IIs to general repair shops.

Bader allows customers to test out the tool by loaning it out for a week, and by having the product available right on the truck. He’ll even go so far as to hook up the heavy duty scan tool to his own truck to demonstrate the features to customers.  

Part of the sale is also educating the customer on the functionality of the product, and making sure to not over-sell a scan tool.

“Some of the sharper technicians know you need to have more than one scan tool. Then some of the other customers they think ‘If I buy this, I can do everything,’” Bader adds, saying this isn’t necessarily the case. 

He adds that a number of heavy trucking companies are branching out from the original product lines they service.

“That’s where there’s the opportunity to sell scan tools, for heavy duty trucks,” he says. “For dealerships, they have all the OEM software. But, the heavy duty side they have to start making that investment. Business has slowed up. Back when it was so busy, they could stick to their product line – Freightliner, Western Star—Now they have to attract new customers to the business. So they need that software.”

But, like all the products Bader sells on his truck, he employs the same customer philosophy with scan tools, as he does other products he sells: “If they don’t like what I [have] sold them, I’ll get it out of their hands and get them something they want. For a long-term relationship, you have to be able to keep all these people happy.”

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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