Simon Hall, Snap-on Tools Company Store Manager based in Melbourne, reflects on the last two years of working in the business during the global pandemic and economic downturn.
Starting as an apprentice in 1994, Simon Hall has extensive experience as both a customer of Snap-on tools and, most recently, a Company Store Manager. Picking up his first tools from Snap-on early in his career, Simon knew the premium brand well when he accepted a unique role with the Snap-on team. He commenced in early 2020, managing a company store servicing the Clayton, Springvale, and Huntingdale regions of Melbourne.
Simon operates the Snap-on owned mobile store while also offering support to Snap-on franchisees in the area. Though a company owned model, as Simon reflects, the day-to-day operations that lead to business success are the same.
“Go through your pre-list, plan your day. In this business, it’s very much about the schedule. Work out who you’re seeing and who you’ve been talking to about particular items or deals. Then always aim to stick with your call schedule. It may not result in a sale every time but our customers appreciate you being reliable and on a schedule.”
Simon’s first day with Snap-on saw him take part in the 2020 Snap-on Franchisee Conference, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and began to impact Australian businesses. While early 2020 restrictions in Melbourne did put limitations on getting in front of customers, the business was able to remain active and adapt. The conditions of 2021 also had an impact, with Simon being called off the road at times, while workshops were also challenged by time out of action.
But there is one thing that saw the business through – and that is relationships. Simon believes they are core to success for Snap-on and its franchisees.
“Getting through this has come down to Snap-on’s emphasis on building customer relationships,” Simon reflects. “You work hard to maintain those relationships through the tough times. On top of getting the tools into peoples’ hands, if you build those relationships, the success follows.”
Despite an initially daunting time to start, Simon was able to establish and grow a strong customers base in the local area. One key aspect was remaining flexible but organised. Simon’s experience is testament that, even in an economic downturn or times of uncertainty, the Snap-on Tools business model can stand strong and be successful.
What does he recommend for building relationships with clients? It’s all about communication, staying in contact makes all the difference. “I always text if I’m going to be late or can’t make it,” Simon advises. “Our customers are busy and don’t always want to pick up their phone. But they appreciate you getting in touch. Over time, with this approach, you tend to become their first port of call when they need a tool, and we work together between my store and other franchisees in the area to support those needs.”
Heading into 2022, Simon has noticed a return of growth in the industry, but with some shifts in both tool preferences and employment trends.
“I would say there are two shifts I’m noticing in terms of tools. The first is that battery-powered tools are becoming very popular, though there is still a strong place for pneumatic tools. The other is that the core products of Snap-on – the spanners, the sockets, ratchets and screwdrivers are always popular and consistently going into workshops.
“One of the single biggest factors to Snap-on tools is putting the tool in the hands of your customer. I recently sold a high-quality Snap-on breaker bar. It’s a simple tool, but when you explain the features and benefits, and physically put it in your customers’ hands, it makes all the difference. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have sold it.”
“I also anticipate and can see the move towards intelligent diagnostics, now integrated into a range of Snap-on scan tools. There’s a lot of work in the background to get that data and make it available through the Snap-on cloud, for our scan tools to access. Snap-on has a team dedicated to this.
“Not every scan tool supplier can have that level of support, whereas Snap-on does. It’s impossible for a technician to know every expected outcome when testing and diagnosing. That’s why this data is so critical.”
During the pandemic, Simon also noticed an employment shift in the industry. Where he’d only see one or two people change jobs in a month prior to the pandemic, he lost track of how many mechanics were either changing jobs or moving between workshops.
“Overall, they’ve been successful after those moves,” says Simon. “Employment is coming back for those workshops that had to reduce hours and there’s plenty of work around. A lot of businesses I service are desperate for mechanics.”
Despite the challenges of the last two years, the Snap-on franchisees and customers have held strong and worked through the tough times. When considering a Snap-on franchise, Simon believes in the processes behind Snap-on’s business model. “Build those relationships and back it up with your belief in the quality product. People see your passion and confidence in the tools,” Simon noted.
“We’ve seen some tough operating conditions, but I believe in this brand and the outcomes show. Compared to other franchise businesses, you face smaller operating costs relative to your investment, and you can make a great living out of it. The Snap-on program sets you up for success and you make it work.”
Snap-on is a leading manufacturer of premium tool and equipment solutions. Its unique franchise model transports Snapon’s tool range direct from workshop to workshop via dedicated franchisees.
Join Snap-on and bring the world’s #1 tool brand mobile showroom to the customer. Learn how by visiting snaponfranchise.com.au or speak with the Snap-on team on 1800 810 581.