Truth be told, the average foodservice operator doesn’t have a clue about the products you offer.
That’s not your fault. It’s just reality in a market of hundreds-of-thousands of products available to restaurant managers, school foodservice directors and hospital nutritionists who drive buying decisions.
My guess is you don’t know about all the dresses, pants, shirts and shoes that are offered in the apparel industry, either. Hey, but you’re the customer… why haven’t you heard that dickies are the next big thing at Urban Outfitters?
It should never be a surprise if Fran, who runs the downtown diner, has never heard of your pickled cabbage coleslaw [or fill in your “hot” new item here]. Fran is distracted by other things much like you when considering new wardrobe choices.
Fran doesn’t read trade magazines (who has the time). She dabbles on Facebook to keep tabs on her nieces and nephews. Occasionally Fran will Google in search of a product she’d like to add to the menu.
Oh, yeah, and she keeps a restaurant running that might involve waitstaff missing shifts, late deliveries and the dishwasher dropping a rack of glasses.
Her critical resource for product info is probably the distributor sales rep she talks to each week to place an order.
So, if the DSR hasn’t heard about your coleslaw, neither will Fran in most cases.
Many food marketers still don’t see DSRs for what they are. A powerful communication channel.
In fact, DSRs are most likely the most influential marketing channel there is in foodservice. That’s why DSRs should be a dedicated marketing line item equaling your investment in websites, advertising, direct mail or social media.
Of course, that means you’ll have to work with your sales team to leverage the DSR communication channel (oh, gosh, anything but sales!).
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to this 10-minute podcast from AFDR (a DSR association) in which several operators speak the truth about how they’re influenced about products.