Have you always wanted to be in business for yourself but either never knew for sure what you wanted to do or was too frightened to start something from scratch? Well running a Direct to Store Distribution business could be a perfect fit for you.
What is DSD you may ask.
Have you ever heard of brands such as Mission, Pepperidge Farms, Snyders-Lance, Little Debbie, Oroweat, Sara Lee. Many of these brands and more offer vendor routes that are owned by independent operators. This give you the opportunity to own your own business while being backed by products / brands that are in high demand. You sell these nation wide brands into your local stores and make commissions on their already proven items.
For many this is the perfect opportunity to be your own boss while still having a stable product line and support group to back you. You bring the delivery vehicle, hard work, some business sense and a go-getter attitude for a rewarding way to make a living. In many but not all cases the routes are purchased so make sure that you are paying a fair price for the estimated commissions you will be getting over time.
My résumé makes it look like I was a good for nothing that couldn’t keep a job…..but that was the furthest thing from the truth. I was a hard worker and had some pretty decent jobs for the area I lived in. There just was things in this life that kept me from having a career in one company. One company I was with for almost 10 years cut back 80% of their workforce, the next one I was there for 3 years and new technologies made my job obsolete. The job after that the company lost their contract so I went to another company for a year and just didn’t fit in well with that job.
I then took a management role in a company that 4 years later moved their division two states away. I was then back to looking for work.
I took a part-time job with an alternative school and ended up picking up an other management role with a large company in the area. I did that for a couple of years but knew I could never be happy there (don’t get me wrong they were a great company I just was at a point in my life I needed something else).
I had begun to start watching Craigslist business ads looking for any business opportunity that I thought might work for me. I checked on a few and most of them the earnings potential for the prices they were asking just didn’t make sense to me. Of course I was pretty picky in what I checked on for the fact that I could only buy something in the price range that I could refinance my house for.
Now I wasn’t afraid of hard work and had some inventory and purchasing / ordering experience in my background so I felt I was ready for running a variety of business options. One day I came across a Craigslist ad for a Mission foods (think tortillas and chips) route for the county I live in. I read the ad many times over the next day or two and thought about the idea. I decided to give the guy a call and get some specifics.
Visiting with the seller I began to get excited about the prospect. He was selling this area because he had two counties on his route and it was just too much for him to handle. I decided to go for a ride along (something you must definitely do if you are thinking of pursuing this line of work).
I knew that I wanted a business where I could be physically active, I had too much of the desk sitting in years past and didn’t want the pounds that goes with that and have a low-level of stress. Riding with him for a couple of days showed me that being a DSD vendor offered both of those. The days just flew by because we were so active but it was pleasant. I bought the route.
If you are considering doing a DSD vendor route here are a few tips to hopefully help you on your journey.
- #1 - Service is key - I am in my stores daily, even if I am not delivering I am checking on my product and making sure the shelves look good.
- #2 - Always wear a smile - Everybody from the backdoor receiver to the guy you just passed in the aisle are your customers. You want them to have nothing but a pleasant association with you and your product line
- #3 - Consistent and prompt service - You want your customers to always know that you will be there every delivery day in the same time frame. Earlier in the day is always better, get those shelves stocked before the bulk of the customers are in the store.
- #4 - Product presentation - Keep your products looking nice and shelves straight. My rule of thumb is if the way the product looks would keep ME from buying it then pull it from the shelf (torn packaging etc.)
- #5 - Develop relationships - If your product line has chips get in good with the Coke guy as an example, sometimes you can tag team a promotional idea and get some good displays in the store with both product lines.
Hopefully some of these ideas will help you on your journey to an active and fulfilling career in food distribution.