It was time for a change. That was the consensus of the distributors, distributor sales reps (DSRs) and suppliers who had participated in the eight-year-old ITWAL Operator’s Edge.
By Jane Auster
With the many foodservice programs now available, it was clear the Operator’s Edge program needed a new approach that would set it apart and offer more value.
“We had tweaked Operator’s Edge over time on a number of occasions, but it wasn’t going where we wanted it to go,” says Rick Page, ITWAL’s director, procurement & foodservice. “We asked ourselves, ‘how do we restructure’? We did some core research and met with our key suppliers and our food service distributors to get their input. We asked them, ‘if we could build something that you would embrace, what would you like to see in a program? What result would you like to see?”
Pages of candid comments came back to ITWAL. Among them:
“This program needs to be about educating the operator, not getting them to buy an extra case because it is on deal.”
“We need to understand the opportunity and future of the business – through educating customers/operators.”
“We want to be an indispensable partner to the members, their DSRs and their operators.”
The strength of the program, they said, had to be in offering more than just case deals. The suppliers said they wanted to see an operators’ program that was “not about what you bought, but the activity flowing through.”
They wanted to be able to engage the end users through the distributor sales reps, and provide training on food preparation and menu offerings.
“We have 10,000 operators in our database,” says Page. “We need our suppliers to provide our distributors with better business building tools and insights for their customers.”
ITWAL felt the time was ripe for a new educational tool that would increase DSRs’ knowledge and engagement, offer suppliers more opportunities to work with their distributors, and help educate the end users, the operators.
Enter Operator Insights. The new program, which launched in May, is all about education and engagement.
Among the key components:
- Suppliers provide educational tools targeted at the independent operator as growth opportunities, menu offerings and food preparation suggestions.
- The information is provided digitally and posted on the “new” Operator Insights website (www.operatorinsights.com) for DSRs to utilize with their operators for a six-month period.
- The ITWAL distributors are also providing the Operator Insights website as a link from their respective websites.
- The site can also be accessed through a link from Foodbiz.ca. “The new program promises to be more flexible and more accountable to the suppliers and end users,” says Page. “Once an operator visits the Operator Insights site and fills in their contact information, their distributor and the identified supplier will follow up. “We will be tracking all the activity and following up on the requested information. As we know, what gets measured gets done.”Driving engagement with distributors, suppliers and operators will build everyone’s business, says Page. “Everyone will win by providing educational tools and collaboration between distributors and their DSRs, suppliers and operators. Working together will deliver business-building opportunities and long-term sustainable growth.”For more information and to enrol in the program, please visit: www.operatorinsights.com