Getting the Most Out of Your Beer

You days are as busy as they are long, and the thought of sitting with a salesperson is dreadful. All you want to do is leave a list of what you need, have him leave the boxes and someone can unload the delivery later. I want you to look at the situation in a whole new way. Your weekly visit from your salesperson is a beneficial service you should look forward to because it has so much to offer. Instead of simply placing an order online, you have the opportunity to develop a real working relationship with your alcohol distributor. Let’s look at how you can get the most out of your vendor relationship.

Vendors consistently put their sales forces through training on specific brands and product lines.  If you have a strong relationship with your distributer representative, you can benefit from a salesperson who knows your customer base and alerts you to market trends and new products targeted to your customers.  A good salesperson can make your establishment stand out as a trendsetter in the local market. At least in their brand portfolio, your salesman knows exactly what is about to happen in the industry, what is about to come out and how it is going to be supported from above.  With a knowledgeable salesperson identifying market trends, you can react quickly making strategic decisions that allow you to capitalize on the latest craze before it becomes yesterday’s news.

A good salesman understands your business, what might work and what might not and should be able to suggest regular promotions that not only entice your customers to buy but that also incentivize your staff to sell. If you have a substantial portion of your business with a single vendor, ask if they can provide your staff with free and professional training focused on customer service and product. Expert mixologists can teach your bartenders how to use new liquor flavors to create winning flavor profiles. They can also teach your back end kitchen staff how to create food pairings that emphasize the best features of these new products. It is win-win when sales increase for your establishment, and in turn, your alcohol vendor. Add another win for the increased tip income for your servers and bartenders.

Your vendor probably visits every one of your local competitors on a weekly basis. He or she has access to your competitor’s sales information and knows what is working, what is not, who is looking to move, who is likely to get fired.  You can’t buy this kind of competitive intelligence!  You never want your salesmen divulging any privileged proprietary information – this is a two-way street with your company’s secrets.  But in general terms of demographics or music and good genres, they can provide tremendous insight into what is happening right now in your market. They know what sells best and who is selling the most, and who has trouble paying their bills. Having a strong relationship with your vendor will keep you up to date with valuable street knowledge that can be leveraged to maximize the bottom line.

Wonder about your relationship with your vendor? Ask yourself, what has he (or she) done for you lately? Regardless of your size or relative importance, you should be treated once in a while to a golf tournament, new signage and promotional material, or you should be extended a discount reserved for bigger players. If you aren’t receiving these “perks,” you can tell how valued you are as a customer. It may be time to talk to your sales representative or looking for a new distributor.

A good salesman can advocate with his management to bring solutions that meet the challenges of your particular business situation. Maybe scheduling deliveries for times or days that accommodate your individual schedule. Or, sometimes cash gets tight, – there are many reasons including some outside your control.  Sometimes you can’t pay right away.  If this is not a chronic problem for your company, and you have been a good paying customer over a long period of time, your salesman should be able to work with the accounting department, letting them know the circumstances and ask them to avoid assessing finance charges or issuing COD threats.

Next time you see your vendor, smile and invite him or her in for a soda or cup of coffee. This is the start of a great new relationship.