Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Who do you work for?

Being in the middle of the supply chain can be a little confusing. On a daily basis, you find yourself serving many masters. Your employer, who at the end of the day, would seem to trump all, but you are also getting pressure from your customers and in the other direction on the supply chain-suppliers, wineries etc. Unfortunately, these 3 are basically never aligned in their needs. You have a very crappy decision to make on a daily basis-Which do you serve?

In order to find peace and the right answer, all you need to do is observe which direction the money flows. It starts with the consumer then goes to the retailer or restaurant then to the distributor, then to the winery. As long as it flows in that direction, the health of the person you sell to is the most important thing. If you are a distributor representative, you need to make sure your clients are getting what they need, and that's not just weekly deliveries, but feedback, honest opinion, ideas, creativity and support. This will help them bring money in. Your boss may have different ideas. They may lock you in a room until you sold the entirety of your quota, or berate you in front of a roomful of your peers. A winery supplier rep may call you and act like your friend as ask favors, they may also fish for info while in your car.

Blind shipping, writing wine lists with nothing but goal items, lying about out of stocks to sub in goal items are all a  violation of trust. This is why so many large distributors have bad reputations: They often behave this way because they don't respect or empathize with their customers. They're numb from being middle managers. Fortunately, not everyone at large distributors works this way. Conversely, I've seen small distributors act even worse on occasion, so the big guys haven't exactly cornered the market on questionable behavior.

The company you work for, the distributor is EMPLOYED BY (or contracted by) your client. If you are acting in the best interest of your client and not violating the trust of your employer, you are doing right. If you employer doesn't see this, you should go find one that does.