Part 2 Tom Vangritis DSR of the Month, US Foods
Prospects, helping them run their businesses smarter, working with Peers, A/R
Is it important to get to know all of the employees at a customer’s restaurant?
Tom: Once I have onboarded a customer, I learn everyone’s name in that restaurant so I can call each by name and develop relationships. Not all of those relationships will benefit you at that restaurant, but any one of those folks may end up in another place as a kitchen manager, for example, and you will already have a relationship with them that works to your benefit.
How do you handle it when a prospect tells you they are happy with their current rep and distributor?
Tom: I respect that since I would want my customers to say that about me, but at the same time, I never stop trying. The word “no” to me means not today, it does not mean “no” forever.
I would look for ways to pursue the account, not with a lot of pressure, but eventually, your competitor is going to make a mistake and you may be the lucky one to get that call because you have continued to show up.
DSR Dave: When we ask most operators how often DSRs come back in after they tell them they are happy with their current rep, they say most DSRs hardly ever come back.
Tom: Look online at their menu or in the restaurant and find an item that you think they might be able to use, then take in a specialist with you and talk about it. Talking doesn’t cost them anything and they are willing to look at new products and you might find one they like an open opportunity.
How do you let them know that you know what you are doing?
Tom: We don’t pass out our resume so on occasion I will give them a brief history of my experience from when I was on their side of the fence, and also how long I’ve been doing it on this side of the fence, then they can gage it for themselves what I know.
How many out of 10 operators do you think really understand the business?
Tom: It is changing some with technology and increasing a little so I would say, maybe half. It is surprising how many gauge their success on how much is in the checkbook as opposed to running the restaurant, taking inventory, and really taking a hard look at purchasing to see what it takes to manage the money within the four walls. Knowing what payroll is and how many hours they’re burning every day… you don’t see a lot of them doing this.
How do you prescribe this to them when you figure out they don’t do it?
Tom: It is a fine line. Some customers take it to heart and do it once a week or at least once a month and look at menu costing and labor… the ones who really want to succeed in the business. Times are changing so more are starting to learn how to make money in the business.
I learned in the corporate world that it was about controlling the assets, accounting for every dollar spent. I took this into an independent restaurant and put it to work and we made so much money in just two years.
A/R – how do you manage it with your customers?
Tom: Making payments have gone online or through ACH, mailing a check, but the managing of it has not changed much. I talk to my credit coordinator 2-5 times per week staying on top of my whole book of business. If someone is falling behind, we discuss it and I then I talk with my customer. All I ask of my customer is for honesty so I can be honest with my people so we can do our best to help them.
How do you work with peers and do you think it is important?
Tom: It is important. I look at it as they have their jobs too. It is about communication on the front side. Mine is to sell, a buyer’s, for example, is to make sure the product is there. I must let my buyer know ahead of time when I pick up a new account and they are going to buy another 30 cases per week of French fries. If I don’t give them enough lead time, I am putting myself and others in a hole as soon as that purchase happens. That responsibility lies more on us to communicate before that blows up. Be proactive. You can see what is happening with your customers if you are proactive and on top of it.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!