Case study: Northern Tool + Equipment

Northern Tool + Equipment has 87 stores in 19 states and ships a wide variety of products to customers domestically and internationally. This family-owned company got its start as a mail-order business, which gradually expanded after opening its first store in 1981 in Burnsville, Minnesota. Today they sell hand and electrical tools, compressors, generators, logging equipment and more to a diverse customer base including industrial-sized companies, small shops and individual contractors.

"BlueTarp's strong approval rates and customer service have made an immediate impact on our sales growth."

-Rick Thornet, Director of Credit Marketing

Switching to BlueTarp created an immediate and tangible boost to business:

  • Credit approvals doubled and sales increased
  • Staff can dedicate more time to sales and service
  • Customer satisfaction and loyalty has improved 

Before BlueTarp, Northern Tool + Equipment worked for eight years with another credit services company, but that relationship posed some challenges. First, the credit approval rate was low, constraining sales and customer growth. And, customer interactions weren’t always good—leaving customers feeling like the company didn’t understand their situation and support them.

Credit program spurs rapid uptick in business

In 2011, Northern Tool + Equipment’s Director of Credit Marketing, Rick Thonet, decided it was time to find a partner who could help them capitalize on the economic recovery and structure their credit program with better terms and service. They switched to BlueTarp, and almost overnight their customer credit approvals nearly doubled.  

2 photos, the first of Northern Tool and Equipment's logo outside of its warehouse, the second is a photo of their warehouse in Burnsville, MN

“Our biggest credit challenge has always been getting the right amount of credit to the right customer at the right time,” says Rick. “With BlueTarp, that problem went away and we started getting lots of business from new and existing customers who never would have been approved before.”

BlueTarp gives Northern Tool the ability to offer extended terms and larger lines to their best customers, which also helps grow sales and build loyalty. Rick notes that BlueTarp handles customers with 6-figure credit limits “without a blink” and treats them just the way Northern Tool does. And, these customers think of BlueTarp’s credit program as a perk that’s customized just for them. 

More time to focus on sales

Another benefit of working with BlueTarp is that Northern Tool can now spend more time on sales rather than managing a credit program. By taking that work off their plate, the company can focus on getting customers’ tools to them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Rick notes that BlueTarp also does a much better job of managing the credit program than they could do in-house.

With BlueTarp running their program, Northern Tool doesn’t have to invest in the software, people and other resources they’d need to handle credit themselves. Rick estimates he’d need at least 20 people to run an in-house program rather than the five credit professionals currently on staff. And with BlueTarp handling the day-to-day of the credit program, he and his staff are able to spend their time on high-value activities to help customers and grow the business.

“In addition to managing credit applications, BlueTarp excels at invoicing, credit management and making collections when necessary—and they work closely with us to make sure it all gets done the way we’d do it ourselves, without a big investment of time on our part,” adds Rick.

Making the switch was easy

The transition to the BlueTarp credit program was very smooth for Northern Tool and its customers. BlueTarp customized the new program to have a similar look, feel and buying experience to what Northern Tool + Equipment had in place.

“The biggest thing anyone needs to know about BlueTarp is that they will manage your customers the way you want them to be managed,” offers Rick. “They recognize that it’s not just about the transaction in hand, but also about future transactions. The customer remembers when they got credit and good service, and they come back for more.”

Making the switch to BlueTarp has led to healthier sales and happier customers for Northern Tool + Equipment. The company can also dedicate more time and resources to sales and customer satisfaction now that their credit program is being handled by the professionals at BlueTarp.

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