Marketing Associate, Sysco Vancouver
ST Tell us about your accounts and your foodservice background.
I have had the pleasure of working for Sysco Vancouver for the past seventeen years. I initially worked in New Westminster, Burnaby and East Vancouver, though since then I have worked in many areas. The territory I have now is unique as I must fly in once a year to visit some of my customers who are located in north western British Columbia.
As a teenager I worked in many restaurants and I attended Chef culinary school completing my second year journeymen. That knowledge helps me immensely - from identifying the right product based on what I know the customer will need for a particular application, to understanding the unique 'language' of a foodservice kitchen.
My customer accounts span a wide variety of foodservice venues including caterers, hotels, cultural centres, churches, fishing lodges, and logging camps; and my customer relationships are just as diverse - I talk to everyone from the dishwasher to the owner - it's this open dialogue that ensures I know what the customer really needs.
ST What do you like best about Sysco Brand?
Sysco Brand provides a wide range of excellent quality products to a large customer base. Backed by the Sysco guarantee and priced to suit from Reliance through to Imperial Brands most of the operators have embraced Sysco Brand products. The Sysco procurement department provides so many unique items that Chef's have been able to use the Sysco Brand products to easily create exciting dishes and menus.
Since the introduction of Arrezzio, Butcher's BlockTM and many of our other specialty brands, my customers have fully endorsed these unique products and my success in selling the Sysco Brand continues to grow with each new item we carry.
ST How have you helped your customers solve a problem?
Several years ago one of my catering accounts was awarded most of the foodservice contract for the Vancouver Molson Indy. One night during the event I received a call at 3:30 a.m. from the Food and Beverage Manager, and I was happy to help - during high season and when special events are happening I pride myself on being "on call" 24 hours a day.
ST What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Covering such a large geographic area is challenging, and of course there are the specialized shipping constraints that are required. When we ship to logging camps and fishing camps, most of the shipment is scheduled on a long haul freight truck, and many of the fishing lodge orders are shipped to the Vancouver airport where they must be loaded on pre-scheduled aircraft that are flying up north.
ST What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Providing a high calibre of service to my customers. I enjoy the moments when they tell me that they are satisfied with their service, and ultimately I believe that a satisfied customer is a loyal customer.
ST What are your goals for the future?
I have won the annual Torchbearers Club Award 14 times during my 17 year tenure with Sysco. This North American award recognizes excellence, and long term I would like to win the award twenty times!
Most of all I enjoy the people I meet working for Sysco, and I enjoy building great relationships with my customers.
ST What foodservice trends do you see emerging and how do you think you'll respond to them?
I think the low carb trend is here to stay - so working with buyers and manufacturers to bring more low carb products to the table is a trend. Because of the low carb trend I have been selling more protein items.
ST What do you think is the biggest mistake that an operator might make in today's market?
Not understanding the consumer's needs or the current industry trends. Of course, opening a foodservice business in a poor location is a problem that is hard to fix. Also it is essential to add value to the customer experience, and operators should ensure they promote diversity and innovation.
ST What do you think makes some operators successful and others not so successful - particularly when they are running a similar size and type of business?
Organization - putting key people in the right position and ensuring that these people have the necessary skills required to provide the level of service the customer is expecting. Then it comes down to managing by example and motivating people properly, and of course timing plays a big part.
I have always based my customers needs on a triangle where each point represents a customer need - Great Service, Excellent Quality Products and Fair Pricing. If you provide all three points on the triangle, you will succeed and in turn the customer will succeed. ¨