How do you work with manufacturers and brokers working from the inside?
Jeff: Through email is the best way that I’ve found, they’re very responsive and they’ve been very flexible when it comes to sending out samples. Sometimes they will send samples directly to the customer, it depends on who the broker/vendor is, and sometimes they let us pull from inventory, but usually they send it into Martin Brothers and then we pull from there.
Have you found it easier, harder or about the same during COVID working with manufacturers and brokers?
Jeff: I have found it to be a little bit more difficult because everybody has tightened their belts. We have to be honest here, they’re not being quite as generous as they were before. Also, the manufacturer reps were not going out to see customers to do any follow up for a while, as far as I know, I think they’re out and about seeing people now.
Do you use them the same way if somebody has a problem, do you dispatch them out or how do you go about doing that with your specialist?
Jeff: If it’s an IT question I refer them to our IT Department, if it’s a janitorial product they’re looking for I will transfer them directly to the Janitorial Rep or send them an email. The janitorial reps are very willing to take a call from a customer. When it comes to menuing, our Marketing Department gets involved. We’re working on a menu for one of the accounts we’re getting that to the printers and getting their new menu made up for them. Nutritional services with our health care team are fantastic and they are great on follow up. All of our specialists are wonderful.
Truck drivers, are they important?
Jeff: Absolutely! They are very good. I can call them, and they are very responsive if I have a concern from a customer. Drivers are so important to our team.
Have you or your customers learned anything during COVID that turned out to be usable for the future that you would have never thought of or tried before all this happened?
Jeff: My life did not change a whole lot, but many of my customers whole world got turned upside down, especially the independent restaurant. They had to think outside the box. I have a restaurant that is so innovative that she has an online store that you can shop, and she tells public which ingredients are needed to make a particular dish from her restaurant and she can put it all together for them to pick up and put together and cook themselves, kind of like the meal kit folks like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc.
DSR Dave: The meal kits are probably one of the biggest things that I’ve seen come out of this. What’s better than your favorite independent restaurant that you used to go to all the time having their top five most sold items packaged up ready to cook or heat and serve? Down in San Antonio, they had two or three popular restaurants in town prepare a couple of their most sold items to be sold in the deli area. This happened because of COVID, but they are going to continue doing it.
Jeff: The ones that we’re willing to change are the ones that have survived.
How do you work with DOT Foods since you listed the Expressway as one of your favorite websites?
Jeff: If someone is looking for a specific item that I can’t get from a local company, maybe DOT has something that we could find to match up to something that another distributor has that we might not stock, and in that case, it helps keep another distributor out of your business. I am generally on DOT every day.
Any advice for DSRs working with your colleagues and peers?
DSR Dave: The way I was treating people was the reason for the results I was getting which kept me from moving past a certain level. That was all I could do in a day or a week because I was blaming others and not taking responsibility for whatever went wrong, I was poisoning myself. I was treating my customers great which was why they were buying, but when I changed and start taking responsibility for everything that went wrong with my customers and treating everybody on the inside with respect because of the important jobs they had to do also, it changed everything! I believe this is one of the biggest reasons why many DSRs cannot get to another level.
Jeff: Take personal responsibility for your actions and make sure that you don’t go blaming others in the company even if it absolutely is not your fault, I always apologize to the customer or to whoever. As far as working with the peers, you also must treat them like they are the most senior person on the staff so that they know that you respect them. People treat me pretty well and I treat them well, and I think it’s a two-way street when it comes to that. Sometimes it is a simple “thank you” and a “can you please…” that goes a long way in my book. Do not abuse your fellow your coworkers.
Advice for Greenhorns:
Those who are thinking, “I’ve been doing it for about a year now and I really liked the job, I like the people/my route and all that stuff, but the hours and all the stuff I had to learn, and I don’t know much about products and trying to learn them, but there’s 10,000, 14,000 or 140,000 of them. I am frustrated. Is this job worth it?
Jeff: Absolutely, it gets easier. My favorite source of knowledge is my customer base. I will ask for their opinion on something and then just be quiet. They can talk for 10 minutes and let me know about a product, about a procedure, about the way our website works, or whatever it might be. They’ll also let us know if something is good or bad. Also, it is important to treat every customer like they are your only one, people appreciate that, it makes them feel special.
How do you stay motivated?
Jeff: Being excited about talking to people, that’s my personal revelation because you have to be a people person to be in this business, obviously. Getting through the day in an organized fashion is my motivation too. I try to be organized to cover all these bases and at the end of the day I can say that I accomplished another day. Motivation is talking with people, the new challenges every day, and I view the job as a new adventure every day. It’s the boiler room and I do not know what’s going to happen over the phones and emails when I walk in the office in the morning. Sometimes you must deal with difficult things and you just work on one thing at a time and you pat yourself on the back when you get it done.
DSR Dave: The best thing about this job is that it is moving fast, and it always changes everyday even though we’re doing the same thing every day, getting orders turned in by the deadline, shipping it, collecting for it, getting another order sounds not so bad, but all the things that happen every day and how you manage them, with a positive attitude and respect, can determine the outcome.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!