Quick survey about food distributors

What company is your favorite?

  • Small local provider

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Us foods

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Keith

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • GFS

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sysco

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • PFG

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Shamrock

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Nicholas

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other large provider

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    0
36
11
Joined Jan 4, 2011
Long story short, want to help out my training class and put together some info for them.

Was a chef for a long time & now ive moved to food sales. I work for a big company and just wanted to reach out to my peers to see how they feel about sales people / company's that provide them product. 

If you guys wouldn't mind taking the poll and just answering one question I think it would help our training class out a ton! 

What is it about a sales person that turns you away the most, especially in a cold call situation?

Thanks!
 
 
Last edited:
4
10
Joined Dec 22, 2016
When they show up at my business without prearranging an appointment, don't know my name or the chef's name, don't know our business, try to sell U.S. products we clearly wouldn't use. I like doing business with a good salesperson, but don't make me work at it.
 
5,508
947
Joined Oct 10, 2005
1) when they waltz through the kitchen like they own it

2) when they are totally oblivious to rushes and high stress times beore or even during banquets

3) when they expect the chef or cooks to drop everything and listen to their schtick

4) when they try to push products that cheapen your menu and reputation
 
34
14
Joined Oct 29, 2016
I love sales people. I love discovering new things, trying out new ideas, just in general hearing what they have to say. In return, I expect respect and them to listen in return. If I said I prefer corn tortillas please don't drone on for 20 minutes about all the flour tortillas you have in stock. Especially don't do this if as you are having a couple shots at my bar. Needless to say I never called him.
 
1
10
Joined Mar 24, 2017
When they come in the middle of a rush and expect us to drop everything because they are here
 
3,238
672
Joined May 5, 2010
I am particularly angry at the salesperson who knows nothing about their product line and must put their face in a laptop to try to find what you want, and then take up a lot of time because they don't know how to use the product program.
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
4,509
998
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I agree with what everyone above has said.  And really agree with statements regarding salespeople that don't understand my restaurant.  If I am running a high-end restaurant don't waste my time talking about all the deep fried apps you have available-I don't care.  Or once I tell you I only serve "fresh" only meat-never frozen, don't drone on about how your frozen steaks are different.  In other words, listen to what I say so you don't waste your time and mine.  Yes, I know you have sales quotas on certain items, but if they don't fit my concept I'm not buying, I don't care how good our relationship has become.

I will also add to what everyone has said.  I expect if I am shorted on my delivery that you and your company will figure out a way to get me product, either exactly what I ordered or an acceptable substitute.  If that means you have to drive a truck way out of the way to service me then so be it, or if you, yourself have to hand deliver it then so be it.  It is not my job to "call around to other restaurants to see if they have product that I can borrow" or for you to tell me that such and such restaurant has some extra and they said I can have it if I go pick it up.  Yes, these are things I have been told in the past by certain salespeople.  Needless to say, they didn't last long.
 
9
10
Joined Jun 10, 2016
1) When they don't understand corporate purchasing agreements and compliance.

2) Showing up during prime business hours. Drop by between 2 and 4, not during breakfast,lunch or dinner rushes.

3) If you're going to be walking food service area's, dress appropriately.

4) Bring Samples or Swag to your customers every now and again, Even simple things like a bag of branded pens can help out.
 
3
10
Joined Apr 5, 2017
 
1) When they don't understand corporate purchasing agreements and compliance.

2) Showing up during prime business hours. Drop by between 2 and 4, not during breakfast,lunch or dinner rushes.

3) If you're going to be walking food service area's, dress appropriately.

4) Bring Samples or Swag to your customers every now and again, Even simple things like a bag of branded pens can help out.
4) Like samples of cool product like tri-color carrots or just things commonly used like PLOT (potatoes, lettuce, onions, tomatoes)? I feel like there would be no point in bringing common stuff like PLOT because EVERYONE would have it, and it's not like I would ever bring a bad quality sample to show off. Care to expand a little?

I am actually in a similar position as OP and any advice helps tremendously. I work for a very small foodservice company that primarily handles produce. My sales at the moment are honestly terrible. The only real time I have sold product is when I had a cheaper price. I only started 5-6 months ago but I really like the company and I really like working with produce. I would honestly do it for free and really just want advice on how to get my foot in the door to start working with these restaurants.

Of course being a smaller company I am limited to their abilities. I can't sell them the ability to be a one stop shop like Sysco and I can't sell them on reputation. Often customers ask "why should I buy from you" and this sounds horrible but I freeze up. I really can't think of anything that would make THEM feel it's worth it. I can think of OK reasons, but they would only really make a difference if they were unhappy with their current set up.

I can't always be the cheapest

I can't do all their produce, grocery, meats and tin foil

Some things I have thought about that I can do are:

Occasionally offer cheaper items

More flexibility than a larger company

Daily delivery with low minimums (although some companies do daily as well)

Smaller company so more personalized attention

Maybe some other stuff I forgot.

Does anybody have some advice? Kind of surprised I haven't gotten fired with my sales... I set up appointments on the phone, never just walk in and interrupt. Meetings sometimes go bad, sometimes go OK, sometimes they seemingly go great, but in the end nobody ever calls back or place an order. I follow up and sometimes they have silly reasons or they say they are busy or didn't even have time to compare prices. Sometimes I KNOW who their supplier is because they tell me, and I compare our prices and I am cheaper yet they still do not call. They say it's about price but when I am cheaper they don't care. Or when they have problems with the quality or service of their current supplier they still don't. 
 
Last edited:
5,508
947
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Hi Pins,

By now you must have figured out that the hospitality industry is one of the meanest, most razor thin profit margin businesses there is.  Competition is cutthroat and never ending, and loyalty is for movie plots.  Restaurants go under or change hands faster than you can keep up, and the other guys are always undercutting you or signing "contracts", and locking customers in on inflated prices.

Yet some small businesses not only survive in this atmosphere, but they thrive!  One method--and the one I have used for close to 20 years now is this:

If Johnny across the street is selling apples, then I want to sell oranges.

Look, a case of ketchup HAS to be produced for "X" $, you can't get it any cheaper than "X", (unless you buy railway tanker cars full of it), neither can the other guys, and other guys are trying every trick in the book to sell it as cheap as they can in order to get business.  

Don't sell the ketchup....  

Sell something else, something that the other guys can't get a hold of, and something you can sell at a reasonable mark up to cover your costs 

Mind you, as a pastry guy, I have it kinda easy. I can make whatever I want, and wholesale it to whoever I want, being comfortable that no one else wants to--or is able to--imitate what I produce.  Matter of fact, I take pride in that.

This might not be the advice you are looking for, and it might take a while to wrap your head around it, but it is a valid business model.
 
3
10
Joined Apr 5, 2017
 
Hi Pins,

By now you must have figured out that the hospitality industry is one of the meanest, most razor thin profit margin businesses there is.  Competition is cutthroat and never ending, and loyalty is for movie plots.  Restaurants go under or change hands faster than you can keep up, and the other guys are always undercutting you or signing "contracts", and locking customers in on inflated prices.

Yet some small businesses not only survive in this atmosphere, but they thrive!  One method--and the one I have used for close to 20 years now is this:

If Johnny across the street is selling apples, then I want to sell oranges.

Look, a case of ketchup HAS to be produced for "X" $, you can't get it any cheaper than "X", (unless you buy railway tanker cars full of it), neither can the other guys, and other guys are trying every trick in the book to sell it as cheap as they can in order to get business.  

Don't sell the ketchup....  

Sell something else, something that the other guys can't get a hold of, and something you can sell at a reasonable mark up to cover your costs 

Mind you, as a pastry guy, I have it kinda easy. I can make whatever I want, and wholesale it to whoever I want, being comfortable that no one else wants to--or is able to--imitate what I produce.  Matter of fact, I take pride in that.

This might not be the advice you are looking for, and it might take a while to wrap your head around it, but it is a valid business model.
No I appreciate any advice especially from the mind of a chef. Thanks.
 
1,245
267
Joined Sep 21, 2001
PinsChef, its not only about price, it is about service!

Be more accurate with pricing, delivery times, completeness of orders, responsiveness to problems.

What that boils down to is this: Know what you sell. Know what you can promise.

Be an ally to your customer. Solve a problem for them!

Prices vary wildly week to week. Do you blindly tell a customer to order their usual items and suffer the price or do you say 'I have this alternative'. I once fired a salesperson b/c they neglected to tell me they had other items I could use that were cheaper. The salepersons' reply was 'Oh. I didn't think you wanted a substitution'..

When I rely on companies for produce it is the single most returned item.

My lettuce crushed, or a box gets frozen, or wilted, or too hot, or damaged.

What would you do?

If I knew I'd get what I need when I need it in the condition I need it in and you are the person who has the highest chance of making that work or being the one to make it right? I'd give you a try.

Make sense?

Good luck!

Peachcreek.
 
4,474
421
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Don't walk in, plop your ass in a chair and start arraigning your "desk".

I haven't sat down for 3 decades.....

mimi
 
23
12
Joined Apr 1, 2017
I hate reps. (not personally, just speaking in business terms). I'll call them when I need them. I don't care if I ever see one. I've always said that if they are worth doing business with, restaurants will contact them..lol..
 
Last edited:
3
10
Joined Apr 5, 2017
Thanks everyone. Are there any tiny things you guys can think of that really made you think "wow I like these guys"? Like I know from my side when I need to special order an item for a customer it annoyed me when suppliers didn't send pricelists or took forever without keeping my updated on what was going on. Sometimes I totally give up on them sending one and a week later I'll get a pricelist email out of nowhere. So when somebody promptly responds to emails it leaves a HUGE impression on me.

As far as you guys choosing your suppliers, what were the big factors? I mean many of these companies on paper and in theory can do the same things, but obviously you won't know how well they perform until you actually try them out. I'm assuming you must get sales people coming in all the time trying to fight for your business. What made you choose your guy? Company reputation, convenience, price, or perhaps it was the salesman who left a good impression?
 
Last edited:
23
12
Joined Apr 1, 2017
One big thing is getting credits on time for wrong shipments, bad produce, etc....I've come across some snakes in my time. They just delay stuff and hope you forget or end up using whatever it was you were unhappy with it. If they make mistakes they don't want to credit you for it because they have to answer for it back at the ranch...sleazy bastards...I have a good rep now. Very honest guy, but he is taking a beating because his company hangs him out to dry... it's his company that stinks some times with shorts, but I stick with him because he is honest and I can trust him...I know he has tried to slip a thing or two by me but that is the nature of the business..He is the lesser of all evils that is available to me in my area...now you've gotten me started....
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top Bottom