The basics of impact tool accessories

Dec. 2, 2016
Whether or not shop owners or technicians purchase these products often come down to two factors: cost and convenience.

There’s no real secret to effectively selling impact tool accessories. Shop owners and technicians are simply looking for quality products they can readily use for certain applications, and they want mobile tool distributors to be able to provide those offerings with no questions asked.

The most astute automotive service professionals look for certain features and characteristics in the impact tool accessories they buy. These include strength, performance, durability and reliability. However, two factors – cost and convenience – often determine whether or not even the most successful distributor can turn an interested shop owner or technician into a purchasing customer of this particular product category.

“Professional technicians will buy (a tool) if they know it will save them money and make their jobs easier,” says Ellery Casey, president, Lock Technology, a provider of problem-solving and time-saving tools to help professional technicians in a number of markets – automotive, locksmith, security and towing – be more productive (www.ltitools.com). “That’s just the bottom line. It has to save them money and make their job easier.”

Up for the job

Mobile tool distributors should look to only sell impact tool accessories that are actually rated for use with an impact tool and meet or exceed ASME specifications, thus guaranteeing they are designed and manufactured to a professional standard. Customers need and want to know if the impact tool accessories they buy are going to be able to handle certain applications, and most are unwilling to compromise when it comes to performance.

Understanding the composition of a certain impact tool accessory and conveying that information to the customer can also go a long way toward helping a distributor secure a sale. Impact tools can accurately be described as “high-stress tools,” so shop owners and technicians find strength and durability to be attractive features in the accessories they utilize along with those products.

“Impact tool accessories will typically be made of an alloy such as chrome molybdenum, which is more malleable and has more elasticity than a tool designed for hand-driven use,” says Richard Graham, national sales manager, Genius Tools, a provider of automotive tools and accessories (www.geniustoolsusa.com). “It is important for technicians to know this not only to prevent injury, but also to avoid damage to the impact tool, which can lead to costly repairs.”

Distributors should also always look to match their customers with products that allow them to save time while they are in the bay and on the job. As a result, it is critical for tool salespeople to be able to assure the shop owners and technicians they cater to that the impact tool accessories they sell will allow them to work more efficiently and effectively. 

“(For example,) GearWrench impact sockets have both laser-etched and hard-stamped markings for high visibility and permanence,” says Jim Stewart, product manager, GearWrench, a manufacturer of automotive hand tools and tool accessories (www.gearwrench.com). “(They) also feature Surface Drive Technology that virtually eliminates the rounding of fasteners.”

GearWrench also offers innovative designs that are well-suited for applications relevant to the automotive professional. An example would be the “parallel neck down design” offered on selected smaller-dimension GearWrench impact sockets.

“Parallel neck down design is particularly useful on deep sockets, but also provides clearance for improved access on standard lengths,” says Stewart.

Another example of a GearWrench offering that is designed specifically for the needs of shop owners and technicians is the company’s locking impact extensions.

“They utilize an easy sliding collar to lock sockets securely into extensions so they can’t come off and need to be retrieved from hard-to-reach-areas,” explains Stewart.

While shop owners and technicians look for professional-quality impact tool accessories they can purchase at a fair price and will help them do their jobs safely, they also require both warranties and exceptional after-sales service.

“They want to have the peace of mind that the manufacturer will stand behind their products,” explains Graham.

It’s all about application

An important component of any sales conversation between a distributor and his or her customers regarding impact tool accessories centers around what specific types of jobs the shop owners and technicians regularly do that require them to employ impact tools.

“This serves to open the conversation on the topic, and it gives the distributor a chance to offer accessories that can improve the safety and/or efficiency for that specific task,” says Graham of Genius Tools. “It also gives distributors a chance to introduce new products.”

According to Stewart, tool salespeople should also make an effort to determine what applications give their customers the most trouble, and then ask them what they think may help avoid those problematic situations moving forward.

“(Distributors) may have a solution on their truck that their customers aren’t aware of,” says GearWrench’s Stewart.

Sales techniques

Distributors can adopt a number of practices and tactics to positively impact their sales of impact tool accessories, says Graham of Genius Tools. They include:

  • Regularly rotating inventory.
  • Displaying impact tool accessories at eye level for significant period of time.
  • Establishing a specific area on the truck for impact tool accessory-related promotions.
  • Creating special package deals.
  • Calling attention to impact tool accessories in flyers or handouts.
  • Toting and promoting in shops. 

“Full sets displayed at eye level tend to sell very well, especially dedicated drive sizes consisting of only deep or standard sockets,” says GearWrench’s Stewart. “Also, when demonstrating an impact tool accessory product with a new feature, have a sample of a similar ‘standard’ product available to compare and contrast the differences and advantages.”

A number of factors – price, performance, strength, durability and reliability being chief among them -- help determine whether or not a mobile tool distributor will be able to sell an impact tool accessory to a shop owner or technician. But many times, says Lock Technology's Casey, there's more to the sales equation.

“All of that comes into play,” he says. “Everyone wants a lifetime warranty. Everyone wants the lowest price they can get. But when the tool is new and innovative, and it’s the only one on the market, they are going to pay a premium for that.”

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