MARCH MADNESS 2011

AKA the top 12 things I repeatedly hear buyers saying out there on the street
By John Henry

It’s fun being the Country Doctor of the business, out on the street, tending to our community of buyers, both on- and off-premise. It can also be like wearing a hairshirt in August waiting for the N/R train on a hot midtown subway platform, carrying an “emergency” hand delivery case of obscure booze which your distributor somehow didn’t deliver with the order…as the sweat drips down your back. Drop by drop.

Some topics, ideas, grunts, insights come up often. New Yorkers in the food and beverage business like to complain, it seems. I share them with you now. In no particular order. Hope you enjoy these juicy street nuggets. Like a crisp cased NYC street dog, cooked to perfection.

1. It is tough doing business in this town. Bloomberg, the SLA, Health Dept are all in my pocket and
it’s “pay to play now—not whether they’ll get you fined, but for how much…and on what payment
plan.”

2. I don’t want 5 different sales guys, I just want Mark/Jake/Lou/Faye/Rob/Julie…You big guy
distributors take note. It is why we little guys are thriving. You get “me.”

3. The sales guys/gals are just begging for favors now/aka, “You know how much junk placements I
still have down in my office. I sit on a case of that rum as my stool” etc. Alternate gripes: How
many favors can I do?/I only hear from ‘em when they need a favor.

4. That (sales) guy is just an order taker. Ladies-take note I have yet to hear the female version.
God bless you.

5. They really botched that brand. Big suppliers take note when you take over a little brand. Let it
be! Just grow it organically. No highway billboards needed along the Major Deegan.

6. We need consistent case pricing on a new brand. Or as the brand hits maturity later on: I wish
they wouldn’t have jerked with the price after they made me buy deep. I usually see buyers’
forehead veins popping out on this one—makes me think of the CPR steps I learned in Red Cross,
just in case I need to practice them shortly.

7. Man it sure would be nice to be taken out to lunch again. I miss the old days. Aka
The broader lament: whatever happened to customer service?

8. Why didn’t they consult me/us before they came out with that wacky bottle? You think I can
actually pour this at my bar?

9. Can you get me one free on 10…or 3 on 25? Cash cards would work.

10. I buy wine from who(m) I like.

11. The young kids today just don’t have the sales etiquette. They need to build the relationships
before they just try to cash in on them. No gratitude.

12. Those spokesemodels from _______agency do horrible in store tastings. Just stand there on the
phone, tweeting. They show up late and leave early….

I ask you each to add your own addition. Make this a freshly shelved baker’s dozen for us all to enjoy. By the way, sales folks and Ambassadors—drop off a dozen Columbia Bagels or Donut Plant treats at your next big morning sales call. It doesn’t happen often these days. They may do you right in return.

See you out on the street.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 7:40 am

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