A day in the life

Get in front of, survive, and thrive when the working days are long

Professional Distributor recently surveyed a sample of its readers to better understand the current state of the tool dealer profession and the metrics associated with this group of professionals, specifically when it comes to hours worked. The majority of respondents were single truck mobile dealers working with a flag. About 20 percent of those polled were single-truck independent mobile dealers, and a few were franchise mobile dealers who also ran multi-truck routes.

One of the most striking takeaways of this survey was the reporting of hours worked. Now, I know the majority of mobile tool dealers work a great deal more than 40 hours in a typical week, and sure enough… nearly 94 percent of you clock in more than 40 hours in a week… with a good amount of you even putting in 60 hours or more. That’s a lot of hours in the books – on the truck, on the phone, on the computer, and simply mentally preparing at home.

No one who knows this business would dream of comparing it to a 9-5 gig. In fact, the nature of this work is highly mobile and unpredictable – which can be good or bad. Planning is important, but so is going with the flow. In this month’s “Go Sell Something” column (p. 28), Alan Sipe addresses the long days and the numerous factors that can either make or break a well-planned schedule. So much of it is out of your control (an afternoon phone call about a broken tool or a sick kid). Sipe reminds readers that even the best strategies may depend on unchangeable forces like afternoon traffic, and sometimes the best-laid plans are thrown out the window.

But don’t despair … if you are conscious of these facts and still manage to plan and execute small changes (and not get discouraged) you are ahead of the game. In his article, Sipe mentions some time “hacks” that may be game-changers to help balance out the insanity of a 50+ hour work week: things like scheduling big-ticket item sales presentations for later in the afternoon when you’ve got nowhere else to be or setting aside a time midweek for housekeeping tasks like chatting with your warehouse distributor or thinking about how to handle major or recurring customer problems.

Following the question on hours worked in a typical week was another question pertaining to job satisfaction. And the good news is, the vast majority of tool dealers surveyed said they were satisfied or “highly satisfied” with this career. Things that keep you getting up for the grind every day: variety, self-employment, and a reliable means of support.

In all things, we take the good with the not so great. How do you balance out your long days and still keep momentum high? 

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