Since we can't clone ourselves...
POSTED BY Steve Waters ON Thu, 02/12/2015 - 22:29
We all know that the relationship with the distributor is a special one. When they're good, they can be VERY good, with both sides supporting each other and working with accounts to get the beer out there to as many people willing to drink it as possible. When they're sour, they can be contentious, with petty squabbles happening between brewery and distributor. But by far the worst experience in my estimation are the moments in which you start to feel invisible to your distributor. Face time with them can definitely help this, but if you're on the small end of mid-size micro like we are, we have 5 distributors throughout two states, and trying to be present to each of them all of the time is not cost or time efficient, considering our personnel and financial constraints. That was a long intro to say that I'd like to open this forum thread to anyone who might have ideas for tools that help you to be present in the minds of your distributors without always being able to be there physically. I can offer up one thing to the thread that we've been doing that has really helped, but I feel like we still have room to do more (feel free to steal this idea if you like): Our CEO/relationship manager produces a very basic email every Friday that each distributor is BCC'ed on that tells them what's going on around the brewery and then shows them exactly what our inventory on hand is - broken down between cans, bottles, kegs, and what's in the tanks. We got great feedback when we started doing this, with distributors saying it took the mystery out of ordering from us. So there is my contribution. Does anyone have any other simple tools they're using in their long distance relationships with their distributors?