“It’s important to have a good rapport with the shop owners,” says Chris Nelson, a Mac Tools distributor in Sacramento, California. “If they’ve got your back, they’re going to point their guys when they’re new [toward purchasing from you]. And it’s not always only the shop owners. If you find a respected guy in a big shop, they’re your mouthpiece; they’re your guy that’s telling [other technicians] ‘The Mac guy’s the guy.’ You can develop that yourself without, but those guys help a lot. If everybody looks up to – Bob, or whoever, [he’s] going to send them your way.”
Being on good terms with a shop owner or manager at stops can also help when it comes to skips and thefts. Nelson recounts multiple instances in which a shop manager has helped him recover goods stolen from his truck by a customer. In one case, a shop manager came to him. In another, he reached out asking about the missing tool.
“I had a guy at a shop that took a set of sockets off my truck on a Monday during a flyer sale,” he says. “I had them all laid out perfectly, so I knew something was missing. I called the [shop’s manager], and in 15 minutes he sent me a picture back [and asked], ‘Is this what you’re looking for?’ And I said, ‘Yep.’ Those guys will help you out. If they don’t like you, they’re not going to spend their time or risk [angering] a fellow co-worker to help a guy they don’t really care about.”
Whether it’s getting a foot in the door starting out or recovering product from a sticky-handed customer, it’s well worth it for a tool dealer to put in the time to build a relationship with shop owners and managers. Of course, that will also extend to customers, since they’re the ones spending money on the truck. Mobile tool sales has a lot to do with forming positive relationships.