Tales from the Road: Investing in relationships

June 3, 2019
This Cornwell dealer has maintained relationships with customers for years, many of which have paid dividends in the long run.

Matt Anderson of Auburn, California, has been a mobile dealer for Cornwell Quality Tools since 2012. Anderson covers around 400 miles per week, traveling from Roseville, to Grass Valley, and through Auburn, selling to auto shops, truck shops, dealerships, and more.

Before becoming a professional mobile tool dealer, he worked for a uniform company and brought his learned experience in time management and customer service with him. Having discussed the tool distribution profession with friends already in the industry, Anderson decided to join the Cornwell team. He was drawn to the allure of being his own boss, running his own business, and, “Oh, yes!” he is glad he made the switch.

In the beginning, Anderson faced the familiar challenges of gaining sales, along with the balancing act of budgeting both his own finances and the finances of his customers. The ability to successfully manage multiple budgets is one that grows stronger over time.

Anderson also recognizes that “sometimes, the best deal you ‘do’ is the one you walk away from. Trust your gut.” Anderson says he had a situation in which a customer incurred a $3,000 tab, yet only wanted to pay $20 a week. “That’ll put you out of business real quick,” Anderson says.

Learning about the products he sells was less of a challenge, having knowledge of the common tools through his experience working on his personal vehicles. Getting up-to-speed on specialty items was easy, as Anderson attests to Cornwell’s customer service, saying they provide a lot of help.

Anderson’s sales techniques are straightforward, but he provides some critical insight pertaining to his customer service. He sells a little bit of everything; his sales aren’t determined by what is on his truck, but rather by what his customers need.

“Don’t assume – listen to your customers and see what they want,” he says. “It comes down to the age-old adage: treat people the way you want to be treated. Actually listen to the customers and don’t just try to sell them what you have on the truck.”

Anderson recently broke into the Cornwell top 100 dealers, coming in at number 78. He had been just outside the top 100 for a while, but attributes his breakthrough to his consistency and reliability. Technicians he had been selling to eventually became shop owners; these techs-turned-owners came back to Anderson when they now needed to tool an entire shop. Maintaining sales relationships over time was essential, culminating into high volume clientele.

Anderson shared an anecdote pertaining to an older gentleman who had been operating a dealership for a long time. Anderson would stop in once a week to say hello and see if the man needed any tools. There was an extended period of time that hadn’t produced any sales.

Then, out of the blue, Anderson received a call. He didn’t immediately recognize the caller since they were not in his sales records. It was the dealership operator, informing Anderson that an air tool had broken, and he needed a new one. Anderson drove straight over, sold the tools, and continues to sell to this customer today.

“He called because he knew who was reliable,” Anderson says, “and the customers are going to go with those that are reliable.”

Anderson has taken it upon himself to be available to all his customers, current, potential, or otherwise. Availability, consistency, and reliability have set Anderson above the competition in establishing his reputation as a dealer that delivers – both in product and service.

About the Author

Tyler Fussner | Assistant Editor | Vehicle Repair Group

Tyler Fussner is assistant editor for the Vehicle Repair Group.

Fussner studied professional writing and publishing at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He has experience in shop operations, is a Michelin Certified Tire Technician, and a Michelin Certified Tire Salesperson.

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