Big vision, big business in Texas

Sept. 3, 2018
Unwavering optimism and a commitment to excellence are helping independent distributor Geoff Beveridge develop his routes and reach key customers.

It takes courage and faith to up and move your family – and your business – about 1,500 miles across the country and start from scratch. But that’s just what this independent tool dealer did. 

“My wife wanted me to move [to Texas] for God and country,” recalls Geoff Beveridge, owner of Beveridge Tools, Inc. “I told her, ‘God is here, too.’” (Here meaning California.)

To which she replied, “Yeah, but He’s bigger in Texas.”

“She might be right, because he’s blessed us many times over,” Beveridge adds.

All the right moves

Beveridge was turning wrenches as a diesel mechanic in a Long Beach, California, oil field when he got the notion to try out tool sales.

“My wife told me I should go and be a Snap-on dealer,” Beveridge says. “She said, ‘You always talk about it,’ … I didn’t even realize I’d been telling her that. Keep in mind I had a brand new baby, house and car payments. But since she believed in me I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ They said I’d be eating rice and beans the first year. Well, I only ate rice and beans when I was at a nice restaurant and they came on the side.”

Beveridge soon found this was where he was meant to be. The California transplant took a job as a mobile tool dealer with Snap-on, then Cornwell. He was successful from day one. After a time he went independent and formed Beveridge Tools, Inc. Now he’s set up shops in the South Dallas area of Texas, and to say he feels ‘at home’ is an understatement. This top tool man has not only settled in, but is looking to spread out.

Taming wide open spaces

A sales route in Texas requires the fuel and road time one might imagine

it would.

“I have a few counties,” Beveridge says. “And in Texas a county is huge.”

The independent distributor drives a 50-mile radius in South Dallas, and his route consists of mostly automotive and heavy trucking business, which is big business in the state. On Mondays his Freightliner hits Johnson County. Tuesday and Wednesday you’ll find him in Dallas County. Thursday is Johnson and Tarrant counties, and on Friday Beveridge services Ellis and Dallas counties. Beveridge has one employee and two trucks on the road. He was training a second driver at the time of this interview, and he’s in the process of readying a third truck/trailer.

Beveridge’s first truck, which has been on the road for nearly two years, has a headcount of 300 customers. The second truck, started about four months ago, has about 350 customers on the books.

The energetic business owner makes a point to see everyone on his route, and is careful to make good use of

every minute.

“We work five days a week and half a day on Saturday tidying up the truck and checking the stock,” he says.

Every day the team is in the shop at 6:30 AM, prepping the trucks to be on the road by 7 AM.

“We work from 7 AM until all the customers are seen,” Beveridge says. “Some days it might be 5 PM, and some days we might get off at 7 PM.”

High standards spur solid sales 

Every technician and shop owner Beveridge encounters is treated with the same respect, attention and friendliness. This focus on customer service creates consistency and trust. It seems to help collections, too. Beveridge says he encounters only a 2 or 3 percent skip rate.

“I found that if I service my customers on a weekly basis I’m less likely to encounter skips, because I know right where they’re at,” Beveridge says. He laughs ... “If you miss them for a couple weeks it’s like cold case murders ... If you don’t get them in the first 48 (hours), they’re gone.”

This morning four new customers come onto the truck and they all start new accounts.

“I want them in the back of the truck, fast,” Beveridge says. “I don’t want them lingering in the front because there’s a lot more to see back there. There’s a better chance they’re going to buy something if they get in the back. I try to start with the big-tickets and let them work their way down. Never underestimate the customer’s ability to buy.” 

Beveridge admits one of his biggest challenges is getting customers approved for credit with financing. He says that although time payment does a great job, credit restrictions still apply.

Still, on this truck there’s something for everybody. Trade-ins are encouraged, and Beveridge says he likes to be a “one-stop shop” and offer ‘good, better, best’ product options.

“If you want the best, I have that; if you want all the rest, I have that, too,” he says.

To round out his customer service strategy, Beveridge frequently channels his diesel mechanic skills to provide quick repairs. He recently took apart a rivet gun to retrieve a stuck rivet for a customer. This special touch no doubt helps with his street cred and keeps customers coming back.

“I’ve got a solution”

The day I visit with Beveridge is a busy one. With two trucks on the road, a promo event (GearWrench is in town) and a new employee-in-training, you’d think things would halt a bit as the day wears on. But even as the hot Texas sun continues to beat down, Beveridge and his team stay agile and upbeat. Product keeps moving.

“I’m everywhere,” Beveridge says. “It’s important to be able to multitask and keep moving…You’ve got to be hungry. You’ve got to be outside-the-box.”

He describes some of his more effective sales efforts: “Sometimes I’ll walk in with a headlamp on my head; I’ll get under a hood with a guy. I’ll turn it on, light it up, and they’ll be like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I’ll [say] ‘I’m shedding some light on the situation for you ... And how’s that kink in your neck from holding the flashlight?’ You just get involved. Interact with the customer.”

Another customer once asked about a slim jim lockout tool.

“Well, slim jims are old news,” he says. “Nobody sells slim jim’s anymore. They sell new lockout tools.” Beveridge saw a learning opportunity here. “I walked it out to him … to a brand new minivan with the keys locked in it and [a dead battery]. Less than 30 seconds I had it open.”

The customer bought the tool on the spot.

Those who do business with Beveridge see him as a problem solver, not a just a salesman.

Freeman Honda Service Director Mike Hyland looks around the truck a bit. He tells me, “Since [Beveridge] has been coming to our dealership, I think the technicians are not only excited to come out and make their payment, but they come out and try to get a tool to solve a problem that they have, and they walk out of the truck smiling every time. You get more for your money and that’s a big deal to a tech who has to use his own money to work on cars in

today’s market.”

“I don’t make anybody buy tools, I just show them all the reasons why they should,” Beveridge says.

At 1 PM, things settle down just enough for a recap. Beveridge and team have rung up $3,246 in sales and collected $2,025.

“That’s fantastic,” Beveridge says.

The heat index is pushing 100-plus degrees but there’s no sign of slowing down. Not too long after the lunch hour, a customer purchases one of the two evaporative coolers stationed at the back of the truck.

Stocking tomorrow’s technicians 

As we continue down the road, Beveridge tells me the economy in Texas has been “incredible.”

I start to get the impression this mobile dealer is not one to sit back and enjoy the ride, despite his proven work ethic and Texas’ economy, which is holding strong. On the contrary, it seems after each ‘good day’ the first thing Beveridge wants to do is throw more irons in the fire.

One thing that sets Beveridge apart is his desire to reach automotive repair students before they get out into the field. He feels he can help to supply them with tools at a competitive price and offer his own financing, even if that means zero interest for a year or two with time payment. Beveridge has a good amount of student customers at the Universal Technical Institute (UTI), Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and a few local colleges.

“I allow these students to have a credit account just like my regular customers … When they’re in school they can pay their weekly payment with no interest, which helps them a lot.”

Eventually he wants to put together trade-specific packages for tech students, like a toolbox with all the tools for a heavy duty truck technician or automotive technician, at one price.

What’s next

Someday in the near future Beveridge plans to use his 32’ trailer as a support vehicle to house additional tools and capital equipment. He will stock large equipment in his showroom (his current garage) as well.

“I’m trying to get the new guys that are coming in and the guys at the top, while my regular services take care of the guys in the shop,” Beveridge says. “I want to be able to cover all ends.”

In case you’re keeping track, that brings us to three trucks and a brick-and-mortar location in the works. Add to that an online presence and you have a sales trifecta. Beveridge and his wife – who helps with billing, receiving, orders and internet sales – recently revamped their site and made their first

online sale.

It’s been a busy two years for the Beveridges. The gamble of relocating to Texas – even without customers or a support network – paid off. The driven salesman used his previous knowledge of tools and automotive tool sales to create a business that is thriving in the Lone Star State.

“I’d really like to do it right,” Beveridge says. “[I’d like to] be doing the same business I’m doing now in the same area, maybe have two or three routes.”

On his checklist: a nice showroom store, a thriving online presence and to be a preferred vendor at UTI and TSTC. He envisions a couple brand new, dependable trucks all paid off and decked out with air conditioning. He may not be there yet, but Beveridge is clearly working to make each of these items a reality. They are all underway.

“After being in mobile tool sales for 17 years, it’s the best move I ever made,” he says of his family’s move to Texas. “I thrive on the challenge. I love what I do because you never know what’s going to happen when the next customer walks in. Building this business has been an incredible experience.”

Geoff Beveridge made a big move when he relocated to Texas. And he continues to move every day – whether he is training, engaging, selling or planning. For him, movement is a lifestyle strategy that continues to serve him well.

About the Author

Sara Scullin | Editor | PTEN and Professional Distributor

Sara Scullin is the editor of PTEN and Professional Distributor magazines. These publications are part of the Endeavor Business Media Vehicle Repair Group, which includes Fleet Maintenance, Professional Tool & Equipment News (PTEN), Professional Distributor magazines and VehicleServicePros.com.

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