“I always say “WE” when I’m talking to my partners (customers) because I want them to know I am part of their team.”~~Scott Caisse
Scott Caisse of Shamrock Foods – Idaho located in Boise earned top honors as AFDR’s July 2021 DSR of the Month and has been inducted into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame.
Scott’s territory is in and around a 50-mile radius of the warehouse in Boise, Idaho. He drives about 650 miles a week.
Scott began in this business by cooking in a hospital kitchen when in high school, followed by cooking in the Air Force Reserve, and then starting a Gelato company where they manufactured gelato for their own retail outlet and then expanded to wholesaling with multi-state distribution. They imported everything from Italy that wasn’t milk, sugar, and water. Managers from FSA (Caisse used FSA as a distributor) who had been eating at his place ended up recruiting Caisse.
What were some of the biggest challenges in the first 1 ½ years?
Scott: The economy (2008-9) was horrible so that was a big one. I had a great team teaching me and the time (since I didn’t have a lot of accounts) to learn the system. FSA sent us out to work all roles, from loading-trucks, picking in the warehouse, will-call, to customer service.
I’m really talking about the positives that happened in that beginning time as after working in the various areas, I learned that my request could throw a whole skew of people off. I learned the perspective of what it takes to go from receiving to delivery to the customer and every stop along the way. It gave me an understanding, appreciation, and respect for everybody in the organization. If I am going to make an ask of the transportation department, I know what it is going to take, and I won’t make an ask without knowing what it will cost them. Understanding the organization even though you are at the tip of it, is key.
Does it make a difference in your sales and how your customers are treated by your company based on how you treat your peers?
Scott: Yes. My drivers are my ambassadors, they are my eyes when I cannot see. If I have a good relationship with them, they may tell me a competitor’s product is in my account. It can be easy for the sales force to blame other people for things that we should have done ourselves. It is okay to stand up for your customer/be on their side, but we must be careful because throwing our company under the bus can come back to you that your customer thinks your company is not very good when in reality it is you not taking responsibility.
I am entrepreneur-minded, so I believe I am an entrepreneur and Shamrock is delivering to my customer. As an entrepreneur-minded person, I am still going to pick up the phone on a Saturday night as opposed to maybe an employee-minded person who may turn off their responsibility at 5:00. My business requires that but it is not all about me, I must present my company in a great light as well.
When I am talking to my customers whom I partner with, I am always saying “we” because I feel I am part of their business and I have their best interest in mind, and we work together. This builds trust with them. The key is, we are in this together for “us” to succeed.
We should be asking, what are your companies doing to help customers to be in business, independent operators?
Scott: Labor is huge everywhere. Moving towards speed-scratch and ready-set-serve to help accounts with the shortage of labor even when they normally bake their own or cut their own potatoes for their clam chowder; is necessary in this current climate.
Because I saw what was coming, I told my customers whom we do menus for, let’s change the menus/pricing now in March and April and see the benefit in the summer, or if we wait to do it in the summer, we will be behind the curve. Giving them foresight was one of the biggest things I did to help my independents.
Do you have them do it or help them with the new pricing?
Scott: Combination. I tell people, numbers don’t lie. If I can get them set up understanding how to use our tools, the Menu Wizard, this will help them with not underpricing on specials. It also cuts down on the calls to me because they can go in and use the tools.
In general, people are out for an experience, and no one is really questioning about that extra five dollars, but if it is bad, it’s not worth it.
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