Having a solid and strong relationship with your food vendor
What is the value of a relationship? In this business, having solid relationships is paramount to growth. Now, with that being said, the days of needing an awesome food rep aren’t the absolute anymore. A lot of operators are very successful solely by having a great online ordering setup where their pars are maintained efficiently. That’s all well and good, but there is still something to be said about having a solid and strong relationship with your food vendor.
It’s the relationship that helps you get to the next level by seeing what you don’t have, what you could have, and also making sure that you have someone on your side that has your back. That’s the essence of a solid relationship. Just like all relationships in your life, you have good relationships, and you have bad relationships. The ones that are solid, supportive and positive are predicated upon both parties having each other’s backs. Nickel and diming your rep on all the small stuff is not how you get there. You get there by your rep being on your team. That means they work FOR YOUR COMPANY, not for themselves. If they are smart enough to know your company’s health and success creates their health and success, then they are someone you should have on your team. I, Mike Bausch, do not work for myself. I work for Andolini’s Pizzeria. And anyone that works with and/or for me needs to work for Andolini’s Pizzeria. Bar none, case closed, period, end of sentence.
You have to work for the company to work for you. Otherwise, you’re alone, on your own island, dedicated to only your own goals. Whenever I have a food house trying to oversell me on things I don’t need or be competitive on things that are not brand-specific to me, I realize I have someone that’s working for themselves and not for my company. When everything goes to crap, I need to know without question that my rep is going to drive four hours to get the product. When I know without any question that my food seller’s going to do that for me, that’s when I know I’m in a good relationship.
I’ve had a main rep for 15 years. I’ve had many reps, but my current, most dedicated rep has been with me for 15 years. He’s now in charge of the food distribution services and new business acquisition. He manages reps that work for him and they are now my direct reps. With that said I can still call him, text him and find out anything I need to about what else is out there and what I need at any time because he works for Andolini’s. He works for my business, just like I work for my business. And, as a result, he has 95 percent of my food purchases. When you don’t have a great relationship, know that that’s normal. It doesn’t happen overnight. But once you do, realize it is a give and take — and you should still be the one taking more than giving. Nonetheless, if you are unyielding, it’s not a relationship. It’s a dictatorship, and it’s not going to be fruitful.
MIKE BAUSCH is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a frequent speaker at the International Pizza Expo family of tradeshows.