Demonstrating Flexibility For Grocery Brokers Is Key
by Ken Straub, Sales Manager
I started as a grocery store bag boy when I was 15 years old. I stayed with the same company almost three decades, working my way through the bakery and meat departments, becoming a produce manager and later a store director. I spent the majority of my life in the perishable departments. I did a little bit of everything and loved working with people and training others. I know my way around a grocery store. When buyers and conventional grocery brokers ask questions, I understand what they’re asking. I understand why they’re asking. For the last seven years, I’ve worked at Lehi Valley Trading Company. But I’m a grocery nerd first before I’m a salesperson. So I know you must have more than good products. You also must understand what a store needs. Conventional grocery brokers are the people connecting buyers and manufacturers. Brokers help us establish relationships to sell products to grocery stores. And brokers are looking for products they can believe in. They are looking for solutions that will generate sales for buyers. Buyers want exclusives and the best price. But every buyer appears to want something different and it is important companies such as ours demonstrate flexibility. We can create something for the next store that’s different through placement, containers and labeling. We are experts in hearing a buyer’s needs and putting together unique programs. Take a recent example: We were working with the same buyer for two stores. The stores have different fixtures to display products. One of the stores includes a different layout. The buyer asked us to display the product differently in the two stores. One of the displays includes a rack. I visited one of the stores and showed the rack manufacturer what the buyer is looking for. We are working with the manufacturer to find a solution to ensure our product is in the stores as an everyday item instead of only during the holidays. In other situations, one store may want a smaller, grab-and-go item such as car cups up front by the registers. Another store with the same broker may want products in bulk in large boxes. It is important to easily structure programs without confusion. Buyers are busy. They don’t have time to go through all of our items and formulate what they want. They want brokers to offer solutions and explain them quickly. We must arm brokers with tools to take advantage of opportunities. We put together full-service programs. We offer products in different packs, sizes and sections of stores. We work with mom and pops to nationwide chains. We can the answer the question, “How can you help me with my snack program?”
Ken Straub is a sales manager at Lehi Valley Trading Company, a snack food company based in Mesa, AZ.