Get back to basics by going back to (tool) school

Sept. 1, 2014
Whether it's brand new products to market, or tried and true items that have been around for years, consider the different ways you can educate yourself on the tools and equipment available.

Let's start with the basics. Sure, every successful mobile tool distributor needs to understand the importance of sales strategies and customer service. But what makes you unique, above and beyond these business aspects, is the need to deliver the right product to your customers. How do you do that?

Get hands-on

Every year, Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. holds its New Products Symposium to showcase new tools and equipment to help a variety of trades, including automotive aftermarket repair and maintenance. This event provides trade media a first-hand look at new products. In addition, stations are set up for trade media to use the tools first-hand. 

I've been writing about automotive repair tools for a few years now, but nothing beats seeing one in action. Getting hands-on and understanding how, where and why this tool is beneficial to a technician. 

Why is this important for you?

How can you know how a tool operates and what it's for, without physically seeing and touching that tool? This doesn't just mean taking that cordless impact out of the box and pulling the trigger on air. It also means watching your customers use the tool you just sold them in the shop and on the vehicle. Or, following up the next week and asking how the tool is working out, and finding out if they have a minute to show you how they're using the tool. 

Don't be afraid to ask questions: What kind(s) of vehicle(s) are you trying to work on? What area of the vehicle? What system of the vehicle (A/C, brakes, transmission)? Have them show you what they're trying to access, and the tool they're currently using to (unsuccessfully) work on that job. It'll give you cues on what they might need help with based on your own tool knowledge of what's stocked on the truck. 

Use your resources

When a customer comes on the truck and asks about a tool you haven't heard of, what do you do? Many distributors have a go-to sales rep at a warehouse distributor or corporate headquarters. They might also ask a DM or fellow distributor in the same area that they can ask. Don't be afraid to call a manufacturers rep.

Product catalogs from manufacturers and flag flyers are also integral parts of your business. Don't just let these items collect dust on the truck. Have a user-friendly setup for catalogs so they're on display and easy to page through (for you and the customer). Throw out old catalogs when you receive new versions.

Before handing out sales flyers, do some research on those products so you can pick up cues on what customers are saying about their repairs when they step on the truck (or when you talk in the shop). 

When all else fails? Google it. (Or Bing it, if that's your thing ...) More distributors are adopting MiFi cards (or other forms of internet access) on the truck. Don't just use this for email and connecting to your sales tools and credit application sites.

Also, consider this: have a second laptop set up just for customers, so they can conduct their own Google searches or complete research on tools and equipment (like our cover story subject this month, Bob Flynn. Read his story on page 8).

Get proactive

You also need to proactively educate yourself on up-and-coming products. We strive to keep you up-to-date on new products, and there are so many ways we offer this information.

Consider subscribing to industry newsletters. Professional Distributor sends out the Mobile Dealer News e-newsletter every Wednesday. Subscribe to receive industry news, sales tips, video demos and feature new products to consider stocking on your truck, specifically catered to mobile distributors.

In every issue of Professional Distributor, we also deliver product sections that include new and popular products. Visit page 20 to see the Most Wanted products requested by your customers, or page 31 to see brand new products to market in the Sneak Peek section. 

Have an iPad? Check out the Mobile Tool Chest app. Use it to get access to product info, photos and videos on new products. As a bonus, it also doubles as a useful tool for showing your customers right on the truck. 

Have a unique way to find out about product information? Is there a specific website, newsletter or other resource that helps you out most? Is there something else you'd find useful in the magazine? I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

Sponsored Recommendations

Access Carside OEM Repair Data with MOTOR TruSpeed

Now available on all Autel MaxiSYS Ultra Series tools, MOTOR TruSpeed Repair delivers expanded OEM service and repair data within days of being published by

ADAS Case Study: From 10 Calibrations a Month to Over 10 A Day

Originally published by Vehicle Service Pros, March 26, 2024

Autel MaxiTPMS TS900: 3-in-1 TPMS Tablet

Originally published by Tire Review, April 4, 2024

Ask The Expert: The Basics & Benefits of Bringing ADAS Calibrations In-house

Originally published by Vehicle Service Pros, March 26, 2024

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Vehicle Service Pros, create an account today!