Speros Velles of City Line Distributors in West Haven, Connecticut is the latest inductee into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame and is the AFDR DSR of the Month for September 2019.
At 16, Speros began his foodservice career at McDonalds by cooking French fries for 8 hours straight his first day. It was a great learning experience of the importance of a very structured environment of people with various duties working together to get the customers in and out efficiently.
Speros went on to the University of Connecticut to study mechanical engineering but ended up back at his family’s produce company (bananas) to help out temporarily. After 6 ½ years there, he began with City Line, an independent distributor, and has been in the distribution business ever since. Velles lives about 65 miles from the warehouse.
Opening new accounts: You should always have irons in the fire to continue growing your business because you never know when you might lose an account for various reasons.
New Prospect Tips:
- Do your research
- Eat there
- Scout them online
- Make a plan moving forward to help them do better
- Strike up a conversation of commonalities and keep it flowing to get a foothold.
Sometimes the door is open and sometimes the door is closed, follow the cues for next steps.
If a prospect is buying from multiple distributors it can be a sign the prospect has not found a DSR who has brought enough value for the prospect to use one prime vendor or the prospect may have trust issues from bad past experiences.
Tips for Greenhorns:
- It gets better the longer you do this job.
- Take advantage of windows of opportunity.
- It is like climbing a ladder one rung at a time. Be a sponge and figure out what works and what doesn’t and why.
- When it comes to folks buying, stuff costs what it costs for a reason. You can get any price you want; it just depends on how much Fat, Salt and Water you want.
Tips for Veterans:
- You can continue to grow if you are happy with what you’re doing
- If not, re-evaluate your processes and how you’re spending your time so you can enjoy yourself more and become more efficient and do more business.
- Don’t lose sight of what got you where you are and maybe return to your roots, go back to the basics when you need motivation to grow your business.
Working with Peers: Having been on the other side (in the banana business) and having worked as a buyer there helps him with good relationships when working with buyers now and with other peers. Speros says to be straight with your peers you work with, so they want to help you with your business. Things happen every day that are planned and NOT PLANNED but it’s how you handle each situation that determines how folks work with you.