1714: Amanda Rhodes DSR of the Month, Sysco Jacksonville, Florida, Getting Started in the Business, Prospecting Tips, Teamwork Grows Sales


Amanda “Mandy” Rhodes based out of Sysco Jacksonville in Florida is AFDR’s DSR of the Month for May 2024, earning her a permanent place in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame. Amanda’s territory is the Saint Augustine area of Florida which is about 45 miles south of the Jacksonville warehouse.

“When prospecting after I know their supplier, I like to pick up on some ‘points of pain’ because that’s what I hone in on and see if I can help fix that point of pain for them.” ~Amanda Rhodes

Amanda Rhodes started her foodservice career when she attended college at Cincinnati State, also known as the Midwest Culinary Institute, where she fell in love with the culinary world. Mandy recalls, “I just had a passion for the ingredients, creating new dishes.” While she was going to college she worked at different restaurants, and in her first few months at Cincinnati State, she worked an internship at Disney World, which she enjoyed. The last few years of college she was working at Orchids in Cincinnati, which was rated as the number one restaurant in Cincinnati. Mandy was creating all kinds of crazy things, like making balloons out of mozzarella and creating flowers out of poached eggs and brick dough, which was a lot of fun.

Rhodes says she learned a ton, but the hours were crazy working holidays, weekends, and all kinds of nightly hours and left her very little time off with her family. So, she checked back in with her advisor at Cincinnati State and he was able to get her an interview for a job at Sysco Cincinnati.

Since Amanda had little sales experience, she started in customer service at Sysco Cincinnati and worked her way up from there to inside sales. After inside sales, Amanda worked in merchandising where she gained vast knowledge of products and everything about them including how important brokers and manufacturers’ reps were to the entire system. From there she went to outside sales and then back to Learning Development Manager where she helped new reps learn the business. It didn’t take long for Rhodes to figure out that her passion was to be an outside rep in front of customers every day because of the relationships you build. She also missed the monthly bonuses she earned being a DSR. She’s been an outside rep ever since.

Amanda transferred from Cincinnati to the sunny skies of Saint Augustine, Florida in 2021 to work out of the Jacksonville distribution center and is loving every minute of it.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

  • Hurdles the first few years as a DSR including A/R and picking up checks.
  • A/R management
  • Discussed how her team at Sysco helped her in Cincinnati accomplish 3 Torchbearer and 5 Chairman’s Club awards.
  • Prospecting comes down to doing your homework so you can better understand an operator’s “Points of Pain” so you might offer solutions and help them.
  • Using Dale Carnegie teachings to learn salesmanship and interpersonal skills.
  • Telling her customers in Cincinnati goodbye but still helping them when they call.
  • Transferring from Cincinnati to Florida was made easier because she knew if she built strong relationships with the Jacksonville team, they would help her build new business in a place she did not know anyone expect the person that hired her.
  • Why it is always good for any DSR to have rapport with the Business Development folks because they will help you know the good accounts from the not so good ones to pursue.
  • What Rhodes does next when a prospect says they are happy with their current distributor, I promise you she does not give up.
  • Penetrating existing accounts is an ongoing process and is an exciting part of the job.
  • Amanda learned early on in her merchandising roles at Sysco that brokers and manufacturer reps can make all the difference when going after new business. They help tremendously. It’s a MUST to build relationships with these people. The company they represent might change but if you have a relationship with this or that rep it won’t matter who they currently rep, you will benefit from having that relationship.
  • Samples work but you have to be there with the customer when they try them.
  • Building and maintaining the ordering guides is a crucial part of the job. Keep them up to date.

Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!!