The company did not assign the OCS sales function to the foodservice operation. Instead, the OCS route drivers continue to be responsible for soliciting new OCS accounts. One difference is the oversight and direction that Timbers provides.
Dedicated OCS sales
Timbers, with his extensive sales experience, educates the drivers about the products and the need to be persistent when calling on new accounts. The drivers are instructed to call on one new account every day. They target work sites with a minimum of 10 to 15 coffee drinkers.
Each salesperson should be able to sign up 25 to 30 new customers per year, Timbers said.
Austin Coffee Service has steadily increased its sales in the low double digits every year, Timbers said. The sales reps have been able to hit their new sales targets, and account attrition has been minimal.
The company has only lost a fraction of the number of new customers it has gained, and those losses were due to budget cuts.
“It’s personality,” Timbers said, identifying the key to successful OCS selling. “If you get it (the new sale) on the very first time you walk in there, something’s not right. In this business, you have to earn the business.”
Timbers said it takes three or four calls to win a new OCS account. If this sounds like a lot, Timbers’ foodservice background again offers perspective. In foodservice, eight to 10 calls is the norm.
One challenge is to know who the decision maker is. In an office, it can be any one of a number of people.
“Usually, the person who says they are in charge (on the sales person’s first visit) is not,” he said.
Once the decision maker is identified and that person sees you are serious, you have a shot. “If they see you coming in there week after week, they’ll give you a shot,” he said.
Timbers also warns his sales people not to leave coffee behind with a prospect since it’s a waste of product. “Never leave samples unless you brew the coffee,” he said. Otherwise, someone will simply take the coffee home.
Timbers meets with the route salesmen, John Wyatt and Jeff Wells, every week, giving them a chance to discuss their concerns about accounts. This also serves to reinforce the sense of team.
Detailed service reports
OCS route tickets are printed weekly. Accounts are scheduled for service based on their volumes. Locations are visited anywhere from twice a week to once a month.
The invoices are printed on Friday for the next week, then given to the route salesmen, who turn them back in at the end of the week. Completed invoices must be turned in for all accounts, even those that don’t make any purchases.
The drivers are responsible for minor equipment repairs in the field. If a machine needs to be replaced, the repair shop has a supply on hand. Graves Menu Maker Foods’ repair shop, located next to the main warehouse, has two full-time repair technicians.
Timbers is a relentless account analyzer. Using a foodservice software program, every day he examines sales per route, sales per stop, number of items sold per stop, and more. Every day, he determines if there is any deviation from the norm, and if there is, he finds out why.
This allows him to identify errors quickly. If the wrong number of products is left at an account, he is able to have it corrected on the next service visit. Otherwise, it can be hard to correct.
In addition to the two drivers, a service tech makes special deliveries to customers who call orders in because they happen to run out of product earlier than expected. A separate invoice is printed.
In addition to the two regular OCS deliveries, the company delivers OCS products via UPS to accounts as far away as St. Louis and Kansas City. These accounts typically own their own equipment.
The OCS and foodservice operations have separate customers, but there is some cross selling. The 15 foodservice sales reps within Austin Coffee Service’s market area occasionally land an OCS account, Timbers said, and vice versa.