Foodservice Distributors “Get on the Truck” Strategies Part 2: A Recipe to Sell

Food Service Sales: Get a distributor to carry your product…or “Get on the Truck” Strategies

NewPoint is a team of marketers who understand that volume sales in B2B channels can increase the volume of ingredients to purchase –  typically bringing pricing down as well as optimizes production whether you have a stand-alone operation or use a co-packer. That’s why consumer marketing cannot be our primary focus. Yes, we create and run consumer marketing programs for our food brand clients. We do a great job, but any consumer marketing program begins with a business to business (B2B) sale.

A Recipe to sell

US Foods, Sysco, or Gordons are not falling over themselves to add your product line to their portfolio to sell to their restaurant’s customers. The opposite is most likely true: they probably want to carry fewer product lines to streamline their ordering and decrease inventory. So what is the secret recipe to “get on the truck?”

In the first post of this series, we read about Luke finding a BBQ chain to carry his pork line. That worked great because Luke’s company had a full product line of fresh pork – which is essential to a BBQ restaurant. It also forced US Foods to carry his entire pork brand on their trucks.

What happens if your product is a line of spices or some other ingredient like sauces or marinades – even yogurt – that the restaurant needs only for unique dishes?

Easy – it’s time to innovate: Create recipes that feature your ingredients to fit the restaurant’s menu. It helps if you are a trained chef. Kevin Grider has an Indiana “local gourmet” line of sauces called Midwest Fresh he sells online and at regional retail outlets. Kevin is also a trained chef and product engineer who consults with restaurants in menu development. Many of these recipes involve his sauces which he can sell in a foodservice-appropriate bulk container.

Kevin has worked hard to develop his talents and unique skillsets. The NewPoint team and our food brand clients are not trained chefs but we still need to sell into foodservice.

NewPoint has several restaurant-trained chefs on our extended team that we call on to help develop chain foodservice and restaurant custom recipes for the food brands we represent. Most of the larger brands are focused on a national level-sale; we target restaurant chains typically. Most chains are interested in seeing ways they can add excitement to the menu and remain competitive and appealing to consumers. Our process usually starts after the sales team has secured a sales meeting.

Chain Menu Development Starts in the “Kitchen”

Trick question: “Where is the real Kitchen?” Our restaurant and foodservice trained chefs first visit the “target” restaurant breaks down the menu themes and styles so they fully understand what flavors, ingredients or trendy innovative-yet-accessible recipes they can develop to add something new or special – that will sell – to the menu.

After ordering several things off the menu, a skilled restaurant and foodservice trained chef will take a look in the kitchen. The first thing to look for? The food prep equipment and staffing. Does the chain use a true line cook or skilled kitchen workers? Nowadays, more often than not, skilled line cooks are not needed. The restaurant kitchen staff are just heating menu portions sent from a commissary distribution center.

Whatever the kitchen situation, the restaurant, and foodservice trained chef now has the task to reverse engineer recipes that include our client’s products and fits the menu as well as the food prep process.

Pitch a Partnership

Like any good partnership, arriving at a restaurant chain with new recipes to add excitement to the menu and grow sales is going to show you know their business and are looking for more than a quick sale.

Foodservice Channel Marketing Part 3…is coming

We’ll discuss other proven foodservice channel marketing strategies and tactics in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how to grow sales and margins in new channels like foodservice, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food marketing topics, please visit our Food for Thought page or check out my book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.