We are operating in an environment that is new to all of us. Here is a quick top 10 list to help you work with retail customers during this challenging time.
1. Be realistic-During a time of disruption your customer will be scrambling and they will have a number of demands. Assess your ability to deliver what they want and be realistic. Commit to what you can do and do it.
2. Be fair-When demand spikes you have limited product to sell to customers. Distribute what you have based on your customer mix and the profit you generate.
3. Find creative solutions-These are not normal times so if you cannot supply a full order check to see if they want a partial order or a similar but not identical product and fill the truck with something else they might need.
4. Let customers decide-You don't know what they do or do not have so if you could be a solution offer it up, assuming it is within reason. Let them decide if they are interested. You will get credit for being proactive.
5. When you are getting groceries-As trips outside our homes are more restricted you still have to go to food stores. Check your products, your competitor’s products and the overall conditions.
6. Retailers are system driven-As much as I say find creative solutions, you have to remember they are system driven and if items are not listed properly and priced properly they will not scan and chances are you might not get paid. If you do have creative solutions make sure they stress test them.
7. Update customers and your own business-Brief, pertinent updates to customers and your own employees are important. People are busy but communication is important to let people know what you are doing and sometimes why. You will not always get a reply but they do appreciate it.
8. Thank the people in your business-Everyone has a lot of stress right now and when you work in food you are expected to continue to supply and deal with everything else. Chances are your employees have gone over and above recently so thank them and make sure they know their efforts are appreciated.
9. Retailers are people too-You will see a different side of category managers and others during a stressful time. They will not be negotiating like usual because the relationship shifts to more collaboration to get through it. It is a time to build relationships while being part of the solution.
10. Look to the future-No one knows when or where this will all end. After you take care of the immediate demands, do your best to look ahead to assess what needs to be done. If you have programs planned with customers check in to see if they are still in place. Do not assume they will or will not be implemented.
If you have any questions please give me a call at (902) 489-2900 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.