From Schools to Tools


Mac Tools

In the UK
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It’s fair to say the Mac Tools franchisee in West Hertfordshire has an unusual background for a tool distributor: after 12 years as a teacher, Debbie Gipp swapped schools for tools and set up as a Mac lady!

Mac Tools franchise

“It was the politics that had changed that made me leave,” she says. “I was being pushed to meet grades and do things that I felt weren’t necessary, teaching had lost its freedom.”

It was that yearning for more control that led her to going into business.

Debbie says: “My husband Neil had been a Mac franchisee dealer for 12 years, and he’d been asking me for a long time about doing it too. When I decided to leave teaching, it really matched what I was looking for, and it’s been absolutely great!

“I love the freedom, I’m working for myself and it’s a complete turnaround from before.”

Of course, that kind of transition doesn’t come without challenges… but working in a male-dominated industry wasn’t one of them.

“Can you imagine teaching 16-year-olds sex education?! Mechanics are nothing compared to the banter in the classroom where it’s 30 against one!” she laughs. “It didn’t scare me once going into a garage.”

Product power

Coming from outside the auto industry did mean overcoming different challenges though.

“I had two big concerns,” Debbie says. “My product knowledge and driving the van. I got confident driving the van quickly, but the product knowledge I had to work hard on and continue to learn even now.”

She puts her success in doing that down to her nature.

“I love learning new things. Once I challenge myself I put my heart and soul into it. I’ve worked really hard on going the extra mile for customers, finding out what they need and always trying to get it for them.

“Without knowing the industry and mechanics, that’s not easy. But I’m the kind of person that will talk to them, ask questions and try to really understand. That way I can do my best for them.

“If I can do it, then other people can too.”

People power

Debbie’s also quick to recognise the training and support on offer from the Mac Tools team – as well as having a great knowledge base in her husband!

“The training was amazing. Steve Higgins, the training manager, is brilliant. I look at it differently because I’ve taught, and his approach is great.

“The support I’ve had since has been brilliant too. I know that I can go to anybody in Mac to get the right support, I can go to the district manager and always get an answer.

“Of course I’m able to ask Neil too, which is great. But every time I’ve asked for help it’s been there.”

Making the move

Though she had no experience of it before, selling has been no issue for Debbie.

“I’m not a natural salesperson, but I don’t think you need to be,” she says. “A lot of it is to do with relationships and personality. I’ve got customers that only buy from me. Two years on, I’m not finding sales a problem. I have an average weekly target and I have no problem hitting it.”

Instead, the challenge has been in getting used to running a business, not having a job, as Debbie’s not afraid to admit.

“It was scary if I’m honest. Neil always said to me it’s not the sales, it’s the collections. I understand that now, you’ve got to balance your cash flow. Managing your finances was new to me, I knew my figures from working in banking before, but asking people for money wasn’t something I’d ever done.”

Overcoming those sorts of challenges has given Debbie something that money can’t buy.

“I’m incredibly proud,” she says.

“It was a huge change, I’d gone out with Neil and with others, I’d seen what it was like from a woman’s perspective, but after the two weeks with a manager along with me, I was on my own. I was enjoying having my own hours and controlling my own business, but now I had to go out and do it for myself. I’m really proud that I’ve done that.

“I’ve got freedom. I’ve got a good salary coming in. It feels amazing to have done that for myself.”

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