- Managing your A/R
- Managing Customer’s Online Ordering each day
- Communications with Customers
- Preparing Customers for your Vacation Coverage
- Greenhorn and Veteran Tips
How do you manage your A/R?
Jon: Fortunately for me, with my accounts, it hasn’t been that big of an issue. I have almost 80 percent of my accounts are on ACH, which makes it nice not having to worry about collecting a whole lot. I have a few problem accounts here and there that I send an email asking for a check that day.
With COVID last year, I had one account that needed help working it out, but we worked with them and got it taken care of. I still have some old school accounts in two small towns that do not like somebody being in their bank account, pulling money out. They insist on writing a check every week. ACH definitely makes it a lot better and I highly recommend getting your accounts on. It keeps things cleaner.
How did you get to that point?
Jon: You simply must explain to them how it works. That you’re A/P person will get an email the day before with the amount, the next day the money is pulled, plus you still receive an invoice with delivery. Perk of not needing someone available to write a check on the spot. It is just cleaner. They say, “Sign me up.”
How many customers are placing their order online and how do you manage that? Do you have some kind of an audit trail to make sure that you didn’t lose an item or to know if they ordered a new item?
Jon: Our system is nice with the information it gives back to us. I receive a confirmation and email when an order is submitted. It shows me items ordered that were outted plus it shows me new or different items ordered. I will make a note of it because it may have been something that we talked about earlier in the week that I gave them the number for and I will follow up to see how it worked, etc. in case we want to try another version instead. Or I may need to ask if they ordered an item by mistake.
Do you turn off your phone?
Jon: No. Well, it goes on evening mode at 10:30 and then it comes back on at 6:00 am, but I do not get a whole lot of text or phone calls that late. If they text or call me at whatever time, I will answer or reply no matter what.
How do you prepare to go on vacation to cover your customers?
Jon: I send them a letter telling them who is covering for me, whether it is someone in customer service or my sales manager. I provide their cell and office phone numbers, and email address.
If it is an account that I physically go into, I will let them know what time and days of the week my replacement will be there to get their orders and ask them to have it ready.
Sometimes I still find myself working because I was in the restaurant business, and I know what it was like if I needed something, and it’s 24/7. But sometimes they’ll call me out of habit and apologize saying they’ll get hold of the replacement.
They are the ones who pay me, so if it is important for them to call me, then it is important for me to listen and do what I can for them.
How do you manage your personal problems and the mistakes your company makes with your customers?
Jon: I normally do not share personal issues, but during this crazy COVID time, we did some sharing because I know what they are going through, and they know what I am going through. It can be like counseling.
So, you have 80 percent of the business in an account, how do you go about getting that next item or getting your competitor out of it entirely?
Jon: It depends on if it is a special item and if you know your items well enough to find one close enough.
I did have a customer who did a lot of chicken fried steak and was having issues. I was able to have it specialty cut, and they began using it. Once that happened, I went from having 20% of the account, to having 90% of it, except for a few specialty items I could not get because they didn’t buy enough.
Working with your peers and colleagues on the inside, does it make a difference how you treat them?
Jon: I treat people how I like to be treated. If I get a phone call or a text from a driver, I try to make sure I respond to them right away. They may be at an account, and no one is there, I get on the phone right away, so they are not stuck twiddling their thumbs waiting. I know that they have the hardest job in the company getting out there and doing what they do every day. I work with them in any way I can like asking the transportation manager what day is best for him to get something shipped.
Advice for Greenhorns:
- The biggest thing I will tell them is to answer your phone. I know it will interrupt some things and it gets in the way, but that is how you’re going to continue to gain their trust. If you are there for them when they need you, then they are going to continue to be there for you down the road and they are going to be loyal.
- Be attentive to your customer’s needs when they need it.
- Be as much of an asset for them as you possibly can.
- You should be trying to connect with them and building relationships.
I never thought I would be any good at a commission job in sales, but I began with a good mentor (in my sales rep when he was taking care of me as a restaurant owner). Once I realized this job is about selling food; it is about relationships and connecting with people; answering their questions and being an asset. It all comes together.
There are ups and downs to this business. You lose an account, you’re bummed, but then you’re going to turn and bail somebody out and they’re going to endlessly thank you. This is the reason why I do it.
Advice for Veterans:
Jon: This job is like having my own business. I try to keep things fresh, doing different things to keep everyone happy.
DSR Dave: It is sort of like the heartbeat of the city, whatever city you are in, whether there’s a big wedding or, a big concert or the president’s coming to town or whatever, it all is around our hospitality or food service industries. If you are engaged, you sort of become the heartbeat of the city.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!