AFDR’s latest inductee to the AFDR Hall of Fame as August DSR of the Month is Michael Carson of Reinhart Foodservice, La Crosse, Wisconsin. He has been a DSR for 30 years. His warehouse is 2 hours and 15 minutes away from his territory of Madison, WI.
Carson got into the business by mistake… but got hired on the spot as a prep cook in a restaurant. He progressed to kitchen manager, then by 24 years old, became general manager over a five-year period.
Once becoming a DSR, Michael realized there was a big learning curve that never ends with products. Coming from a buffet style restaurant, Carson dealt with the lower end of products and found out there was such an array of products between the low end and high end of products. Broker support helped with learning products. Michael says developing a relationship with his brokers makes a difference in the support and ease of getting samples because brokers are like customers.
- Eats at place to see what they’re offering customers and grabs a business card from the front for a contact for next visit.
- Finds products they’re not using that might be a good fit (maybe dumpster dives for what they’re purchasing which gives clues to who they’re buying from, etc. so you know your strengths versus theirs).
- Second time in, he keeps it casual without laptop and asks for 15 mins of their time to introduce himself and his company. Maybe 2 out of 5 will agree to an appointment initially.
- Looks at prospects as customers who haven’t bought yet.
- Likes to go in every week around same time, but it’s a fine line between showing a prospect you want their business versus being a pest, so pay attention to their cues.
- Likes to take a sample in that they can experiment with, not just a couple pieces.
- Leads with his favorite brands and something they can use. General Mills is one of his favorites because they offer a lot of help including online.
ACH is convenient and has changed things compared to before when customers wrote a check and knew they had like a week and a half for it to clear. It requires an adjustment period for sure to realize that the money comes out now but gives them convenience and good tracking.
Carson believes in treating his peers with respect by encouraging new DSRs and the inside people. Michael says, “Treat them like you would want to be treated. I don’t believe in finger pointing, just getting to the bottom of mistakes to prevent them from happening again. It’s a team effort; none of it can be done on your own. Everyone is important.”
Don’t sweat the stuff you have no control over, don’t get upset and blame people, just learn from it.
Don’t become complacent and be satisfied with what you always had. Change things up to keep it fun, maybe drive a different direction to places. If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.
Be a Resource and Sell Something!