Managing Order Entry, Selling new products, Working with your team, Greenhorn and Vet tips.
Online ordering, how do you prefer to handle it and manage it?
Karen: About 20% of my customers order online. I prefer to take the orders by phone call or text and a couple I do in person with them. With the way things have been since COVID, I like to do it in real-time so I can fix any problems with product outs right then. Who knows when they might place their order, it could be right before the cut-off. My customers know when to expect my call for their order or when to text it to me.
I go through the outs before I call my customer service rep, then we go through to find good matches since she knows what trucks have come in. I also know my dollar amounts so I can quickly scan to see if the order is for the usual amount or suddenly much higher, so I know if they entered something incorrectly. I try to handle all issues before the end of the day, so my customers are not getting any unexpected shorts or other surprises.
Do you think the way you treat people you work with makes a difference?
Karen: Absolutely, it makes a difference! I am so fortunate to have a great team, starting with my manager and my peers on our team. We are all the same at our meetings, we work well together and respect one another; we all help each other.
It is an hour’s drive, and a little further for some, to our warehouse, so I always let the others know by group text when I am heading there so if they need anything I can pick it up for them. I just ask them to call it in, I pick it up and we meet at a central location.
How do you use brokers?
Karen: I use them in many ways. If I need a sample, I pick it up or they meet me at the customers. One of my customers was having problems with a product and was throwing half the case away due to sticking and tearing apart. My broker met me there and we were able to solve the problem in 10 minutes – – the customer was storing it improperly. They are the experts about their products, and I appreciate that.
Do you use DOT Foods?
Karen: Yes, love it. It is my special-order warehouse. We have access to look up availability, price, ingredients, who the local broker is, etc. We go to DOT once or twice a week.
Do you have any habits or business practices you were forced into due to COVID that you will continue?
Karen: The order taking. Breaking the habit of sitting in front of customers waiting up to an hour and a half for their orders. With COVID, I have trained my customers to do it differently as I mentioned. Now I can go to 3-5 of my accounts before lunch and chat with them while having a cup of coffee discussing other more valuable things.
How do you introduce a new item to a customer who has an established menu and items?
Karen: Our company does new product launches with contests. I am competitive so I have a week before the launch to map out where I believe the new products could work. I work with my brokers and get samples out to my customers before the product launch, so we are rolling if they like the new item(s).
1. PLAN. Spend a day out of your weekend looking at the week ahead to see where you can make the most impact. Change up your schedule if you must. What are you going to show or share with your customers, what new products can you bring them?
2. GET ORGANIZED. You cannot do your job until you are organized. You must come up with a system that works for you whether it is Outlook Calendar or whatever your company provides you.
3. FOLLOW UP. Do what you say you are going to do. Follow up, do not leave them hanging for answers or resolution to problems.
Don’t take your foot off the pedal. Always be looking ahead. Things change always with new opportunities. Communicate. Do not become complacent.
It all starts with TRUST. If your customers trust you and look forward to you coming, that is everything. And follow-up is a huge part of that. Doing what you said you would do for them and not blaming others for a problem. I take responsibility for it and fix it.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!