Brokers said the timing of the conference couldn’t have been better. The meeting provided the opportunity to refocus on the business after months of gloom and doom news. Attendees heard and discussed how to turn economic challenges into opportunities:
- Technomic Senior Manager Kathy Gaynor told attendees to brace for a 5% drop in sales in 2009 and 2% in 2010. Full-service chain restaurants are going to get hit the hardest, so it’s a good time to shift focus to more nimble larger independents who are ready for new menu ideas.
- Technomic also revealed that food shows and DSRs remain the major influencers among operators when learning about new products. Brokers agree they need to work closer with distributors, manufacturers and DSRs to streamline how street reps are armed with the knowledge to drive sales. 2009 will be a big transition year to brief online video training and other less costly ways to get reps up to speed beyond old standby spiffs, ride-withs and long, boring sales meetings.
- Brokers continue to grapple with samples and the increasing turnover of DSRs. “We had a DSR call us for a sample of a sugar packet” one broker said in describing some off-base requests that are becoming commonplace among the inexperienced. Brokers said they now require greenhorn DSRs to go through basic training about their product lines before they spend any time handling requests from newbies… a simple move that is saving everybody time and money.
- “Creativity” and “change” were the watch words during the conference. Attendees said brokers, manufacturers and distributors must truly collaborate to survive; the alternative of not changing will mean bankruptcy.
Watch a video summary of the FSMA event.