Tales from the Road: Bundle, tote, and grow

Feb. 6, 2020
This distributor has utilized a range of sales techniques to grow her business from the ground up.

It could be said that Alysia Bugdon runs on the opposite of ‘island time’ with her hustle. The Cornwell Tools distributor operates an 18’ 2018 MT45 Freightliner throughout most of Atlantic County, New Jersey, across the barrier islands. Her route takes her from Brigantine to Margate, Ventnor, Atlantic City, and beyond. This month will mark Bugdon’s second year as a distributor, and she has wasted no time establishing herself as reputable and dependable.

“I was a stay-at-home mom for twelve years,” Bugdon says. “I was able to stay home with my kids and take care of my mother-in-law, who passed away about three years ago. After she passed away, and the kids were in school all day, I needed a job. My husband, who is a mechanic, said, ‘Hey, how about buying a tool truck and starting up a business?’ and here we are!”

Bugdon previously worked in the healthcare, banking, and cosmetics industries where she honed her customer relation skills, learning how to engage with people of different backgrounds and varying personalities. It is clear this skill carried into her new career as a distributor and speaks to her ability to successfully sell to a myriad of customers, from mom and pop automotive shops to tire shops, heavy duty truck, bus, and equipment companies, and even marinas.

“I had to learn the heavy duty stuff, marina stuff, the buses, and that kind of thing,” Bugdon says. “I spent a lot of time in the garage with my husband, so I wasn’t a stranger to the basic tools; but I still had to learn a lot when I started.”

Bugdon never shied away from the learning curve and says that honesty has truly been the best policy. If she has ever been unsure of a tool, she is upfront with her customers, does some research, and gets them what they need.

Bugdon has also learned some effective sales techniques along the way. From something as simple as keeping the air conditioning on her truck cranked and having bottles of water available during the summer, to creating her own ‘bundle’ sales, she goes out of her way to provide a range of purchasing options for her customers. Bugdon also utilizes the ‘tote and promote’ technique, bringing new or sale items directly into the shop and getting product in the hands of technicians.

Recently, Bugdon completed a $94,000 sale to a local utility company. The company had been clients of a competing flag in the past, but Bugdon delivered a decent sale to them last year and became their go-to distributor. When the company purchased new vehicles, they turned to her to outfit six service trucks. There was a list of needs, Bugdon pitched some suggestions, and the order was established, sold, and delivered.

“The tool business is definitely a difficult business, and when we started, we started from the ground up,” Bugdon says. “When we rolled out this tool truck on the first day, we had zero customers. Now, we’re up to about 230 customers on the books. In under two years, that’s a really big accomplishment.”

As a new dealer, and as a female dealer, Bugdon has had to step up to the challenge of proving herself to potential clients. Her honesty, consistency, and determination has paid off.

“It’s definitely a lot of hard work,” Bugdon says. “There’s inventory, there’s bills, sometimes you have to do repos[sessions]. Plus, the family, the house, the bills there … it’s a juggling act of sorts. You just have to do what you need to do to get everything done.”

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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