Because of the internet

April 4, 2017
With the ever-increasing adoption of online retail purchases, how do you compete with e-commerce?

It’s no secret: your customers are buying tools online.

Those sales continue to increase too. When we surveyed technicians and shop owners for PTEN’s annual purchasing study, 72 percent of respondents indicated they purchase tools online. That’s a 16 percent increase, year-over-year, compared to the 2015 survey results. PTEN is the sister publication of Professional Distributor.  

How can you blame them? The convenience of having a purchase arrive at your doorstep, coupled with the fact these tools are oftentimes the least expensive, is an alluring prospect for consumers.  

It’s hard to compete on price when products on Amazon or eBay cost less than what you sometimes pay wholesale for the same item.

But during that same reader survey, respondents also say they still purchase from tool dealers most. Up 11 percent since 2015, the 2016 survey results indicated 89 percent of respondents purchase tools from a mobile tool dealer.

Why is that? The two main factors are: no-interest financing, and service provided after the sale.

Featured in this month’s cover story (page 10), the independent father-son team, Dan Jenkins Sr. and Dan Jenkins Jr., have faced similar challenges when competing with online retailers. How do they handle it?

“If you buy this online, I’m not warrantying it for you,” Jenkins Jr. says, when working with customers who have purchased from a website retailer like Amazon.com. “You’re on your own. I don’t warranty somebody else’s stuff.”

Ultimately, Jenkins Jr. makes sure his customers are aware of the differences in buying from him versus another retail business.

“It comes down to, are they going to warranty it? And, are they going to take payments on it?” says Jenkins Jr. of retail stores and online sites.

“On the service side … they know if they have something wrong with that tool, they can bring it straight back to us and we’ll get it taken care of for them,” he adds.

Be vocal and transparent about your competition, and explain why buying from you is still beneficial. As the landscape continues to shift, it’s important now more than ever to make sure you’re addressing the needs of your customers.

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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