You learn by trying.
It’s nice to find add-on inventory to sell on a regular basis. It checks off some of the boxes of “must have” stuff for your truck. Personally, I never cared much about non-tool items. NASCAR replicas, candy bars, clothing, hand soap, etc … all failures for me for many reasons. Somewhat contributory was my lack of real all-out persistence to talk up these products. I’m here to sell tools! Why waste time on other products?
Then one of my warehouse distributors suggested selling beef jerky. He said one guy he had was selling 30 or more bags per week. Still, my practical side said, “Stay away, this is just another distraction on your quest to sell four figures worth of tools every day.” I ended up placing a small order anyway.
Give it a low-risk trial
Sales went well but I noticed something … customers were a bit excited about these bags of jerky. One night a non-customer asked me for something to eat because he was hungry. He said that he had no money, but I replied, “I can’t see you go hungry. Here, take this last bag of jerky off my truck. I will see you next week.”
I didn’t expect much. The first trip back he ignored me. But on the second trip, low and behold, he paid me and has become a $50-$85 a week payer since.
Small steps with good results
Sales have continued to perk up with a little push from beef jerky and beef sticks. So, what’s your beef jerky? Your inventory should be tailored to your customers, but change is inevitable, so you may need to mix it up. Some items may not be profitable but might lead to better sales for you. Some dealers offer soft drinks, cookies, sunglasses, raffles, and contests. All may have their place, just don’t let them distract from your main point of sale – tools.
As mobile tool distributors, we’ve all had products that don’t sell well and just take up space on our trucks. Do what you can to get these products off your truck, such as running a BOGO or discounting the item—not too much though, you don’t want to be losing money. Once that’s taken care of you might want to chat with your customers for ideas for new inventory. Showing a flyer and asking for their thoughts is another way to get customer involvement. I like to laminate a few pages to emphasize the specials and new products.
My favorite and best-selling items are jump packs, tire gauges, all sorts of lights, test equipment, Milwaukee Tool impacts, all sorts of hand ratchets, and extractors. However, your business will depend on your current customer base. I reiterate, TALK to your customers about tool preference and selection.
Make a statement
We need to jump on opportunity. Call a rep, the company, or the warehouse and pick their brains about new tools and what’s hot. Mind you, one size does not fit all so think about what your customers will be most interested in. Also, don’t be afraid to do your own research into what's popular. Try hopping into an online chatroom or group page on social media to see what technicians or other distributors are talking about.
Share your thoughts in the comments below and let me know what works for you—what have you learned about the inventory you need to carry on your truck?