Some breathing room on paying those bills.
Superior Anhausner Foods
Accounts: 1,000 in southern California
2007 sales: $80 million
Ever since the economy turned south, precipitating a drop in restaurant business, Superior Anhausner Foods, Los Angeles, has been pushing its nearly two dozen DSRs to be more interactive with their accounts and probe them for their most troubling issues, according to Danny O’Malley, vice president of sales and marketing.
O’Malley said the distributorship, which has been in business in Southern California since the late 1980s, discovered that for his accounts, many of which have lost 15 to 30 percent of their revenues, the top issues deal with finances and paying their bills.
“We’re trying to be as innovative as we can to help our customers,” he says, explaining a two-month-old credit program that allows his customers to hold on to their money two to four times longer than normal after placing their purchases. This payment flexibility gives its customers the ability to postpone paying the distributor’s invoices for 60 days, without interest fees.
O’Malley said the broadliner, with about 1,000 customers, devised this program in conjunction with Green Sky Financial and MasterCard.
“With normal payments running between 15 and 30 days, depending on a customer’s credit rating, you can only imagine how valuable it is for our customers to have 60-day terms and hold on to their money a little bit longer,” he says, adding that pushing back payment for two months alleviates restaurateurs of the debilitating risk of losing their positive credit rating
“Our accounts sign up for the credit program just like they sign up for any MasterCard credit card. They have 60 days to pay their first bill. If they don’t, and leave a balance, then they will be charged interest,” he said.
O’Malley said he and the DSRs are also helping customers consolidate purchases and deliveries. Recently they helped the owner of two small upscale Italian restaurants, who is on the verge of opening a third, eliminate half its suppliers. O’Malley says he pointed out to the operator that with the high cost of fuel, the distributor is better able to control delivery expenses by placing more of its orders on one truck.
O’Malley notes that this not only saves money, it also saves the restaurateur time. Reducing the number of trucks pulling up to its back doors reduces the number of invoices that he has to process and checks that he has to cut.
“Every time an operator cuts back on labor or processes, he’s going to save time and money,” O’Malley says.
An Internet food show
Last fall Superior Anhausner took its show online, with an Internet-based food show for its operators. Seventy percent of its clients took part. The second, two-week Internet show was in July and attracted 82 percent of its customers and 45 vendors, with vendor volume up 20 percent. Danny O’Malley, vice president of sales and marketing, says 50,000 cases were sold during the 24/7 show, noting that the addition of a 3D experience was beneficial because it provided a feeling of involvement.
“Instead of seeing a booth that appeared flat, the visitor saw a dimension, a perspective, like it has depth. It looks more like a building rather than a flat piece of paper,” O’Malley explains. “It’s an expectation of people to have a step up from a flat image to something more realistic. When you look at a 3D image rather than a flat, 2D one, it’s more realistic.”
On the vendor side, O’Malley says he insisted that they provide comprehensive information, including photographs and links to their Web sites and product pages. Additionally, the cybershow gave visitors the opportunity to e-mail vendors and brokers with questions or requests for samples. Despite the lack of the obvious taste, touch, feel and smell features needed to arouse buyers’ interest in food products, O’Malley pointed out that for a branded distributorship like Superior Anhausner the absence is not detrimental. Operators are already familiar with the branded products in retail environments and understand what the products represent, he says. It would be more difficult to market private-label products in an online show because operators aren’t as acquainted with them as they are with national labels.