Sparing a few hours out of the workshop to shop for tools or to sit down and browse through the latest catalogue is a task that often gets put back when there are a line of vehicles waiting to be repaired. That’s why, for the last five years, The Tool Connection has run a service that takes its products to garages, along with a fully qualified technician who is on hand to demonstrate the tools.
The company has several dedicated, fully fitted demonstration vans presenting the latest automotive tools, bodyshop repair units and time saving gadgets from Power-TEC and Laser Tools.
PMM spent a day on the road with Alan Eustice, Technical Sales Support, on one of the Laser Tools Tech Centre vans in West London to find out just how beneficial this service can be to an independent garage owner.
Organised in liaison with motor factors, the three Laser and two Power-TEC vans cover the majority of the UK. A factor will book a van for the day, put word out to its customers and the interested garages will be added to a list for the van to visit.
The beauty of the service from a garage’s point of view is that there is no hard sell. Alan, and the other Laser technicians, work in a ‘sales support’ role and are there for demonstrations, to answer questions and gather feedback, rather than to sell directly. The factor rep will travel with the van so if the customer wants to buy the tool, they can place an order which goes through the factor who arranges delivery. Garages are in no way forced into a sale, or made to feel like they have to buy.
The scheme is beneficial to Tool Connection too, as Alan explains: “Speaking face-to-face with the customers about the products means we are able to get advice and feedback first-hand from the guys that use them every day.” It’s a win-win situation for all parties.
The service doesn’t just provide tool demonstrations; in fact the first garage we visited was a follow-up visit to a customer who had recently purchased a Laser Tools spring compressor. Alan was able to
establish how the garage was getting on with the product, incidentally noting that it had significantly improved productivity and health and safety for the business, and he was also able to remind the garage to keep the compressor topped up with hydraulic oil.
With over 7,000 tools in the Laser range, it’s impossible for the Tech Centre vans to carry everything. Therefore, prior to the visits, customers are able to request demonstrations on specific tools and this enables the vans to be stocked up accordingly. There is also a TV and iPad on board, so if a customer has a question about a product which is not on board the van on that particular day, they can be shown the corresponding demonstration video from the online Laser Tools’ archives.
The Tool Connection says it’s vital to offer more support to their customers in this changing environment and the feedback they have had to date is really encouraging.
What do the garages say?
“I have always liked the idea of actually seeing new tools before I buy them. Having expert advice on the van, as opposed to a sales voice on the, phone, really gives the personal touch.”
Dennis Brett, Service & Bodyshop Manager, Gerrards Motors, Ruislip.
“It’s a massive benefit to be able to go onto the van and have the functions of tools explained. It makes it much easier to visualise what the tool does and picture whether it will be beneficial to my business when I can see and feel the tool, rather than looking in a catalogue. Not for the first time, I purchased several items from the van – things which I only realised I would need and find useful when they were presented to me.” Winston Hanson, Director, Auto Workshop, Ealing.