Financing

A new web resource for operators

U.S. Foodservice

Rosemont, IL

2008 Sales: $1.8 billion

ID Top 50 Rank: 2

Web sites: usfoodservice.com; usfoodsight.com; beyondtheplate.com

Virtually every distributor today tries to train its sales reps to serve as consultants to their customers, not just order takers. U.S. Foodservice (USF), the country’s second-largest broadliner, has now taken consultative selling a step further, debuting two new online resources accessible to customers and non-customers alike, 24/7.

Each quarter, foodsight (www.usfoodsight.com) zeros in on a different featured theme, offering product information, trends, market research and more. Content in several “buckets” within the site is updated regularly throughout the quarter.

In January, the site kicked off with an in-depth focus on disposables and environmental sustainability. Through foodsight, USF sales reps can also link directly to the company’s full catalog, accessing extensive product and pricing information and online order-entry. “It definitely takes the sales call with an operator to a new level. The rep can access relevant trends and ideas as well as source specific products and place orders all in one place,” says Richard Pitman of Noble & Associates, the agency that worked with USF to develop the Web sites.

Meanwhile, a second U.S. Foodservice Web site, www.beyondtheplate.com, (Beyond the Plate) is part of The Food Channel’s Web site. As such, it features a wide variety of content of interest to professionals and consumers, alike. “It actually functions much like a food-centered online social community,” Pitman says.

“You can e-mail and get questions answered from a chef, read articles, get recipes, watch iRave videos highlighting independent restaurant operations and connect to other operator community sites.”

“The goal for the sites is to strongly position U.S. Foodservice as a resource all the way from the back of the house to the consumer,” Pitman adds. “It’s a way for current and prospective customers to tap some pretty innovative resources from a distributor.”

USF is currently readying fresh content for its second-quarter theme, which covers spring menu trends, produce, salads and healthy living.

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