Discover more from Ah So Insights
Where to find new accounts
If you’re reading about a new restaurant on Eater, so is everyone else
The job of a wine and spirit sales rep could be neatly divided into two fundamentally different tasks: building an account run and growing business with your current customers. The former charge is loaded with the dueling emotions of greed and fear; the world is your oyster, but you’re up against the clock. “Can I build my business fast enough to make myself a living?” is the question that’s nagged anyone who was staring down the barrel of going off draw. Transitioning to 100% commission is both threatening and promising, but it needn’t feel like the end of the world if you know where to look for new business.
Before delving into the myriad of places to scout new business, you should know two things. Number one: there is an immeasurable benefit to developing a relationship with an account before it opens to the public. This “first-mover advantage” typically guarantees you a sizable opening order. After all, initially stocking a restaurant, bar, or store requires more boxes and bottles than restocking it does. Plus, you’re likely to get more face time with the buyer as they won’t yet be put upon other less savvy reps or requests for assistance from colleagues or customers. Number two: you will be handicapping yourself if you’re fishing at the same watering hole as everyone else. You’re not giving yourself an edge if you’re looking for business in all the same places your competitors are. Sorry, but this means you should be reading Eater less.
So then, where does one find new business? Here are my suggestions in order of the most creative methods to the least since more seasoned reps are liable to be familiar with some of the latter proposals:
Scour job ads. Pay a visit to Craigslist and see who is hiring for food or beverage or hospitality or retail jobs. Places that put out open calls for staff likely haven’t opened yet and spell prime opportunity. If they’re getting ready to hire, they are probably getting ready to buy, if they haven’t already.
Get your community board minutes. Let’s be clear that each state and municipality has its own unique laws which might make this technique more or less useful. In New York City, community boards must approve new liquor licenses before the state will grant a license. Their minutes are available and searchable online! This means that you get first dibs in finding out who is planning what. This beats simply getting a list of newly minted licensees from the state which might not be available till later. If you’re feeling bold, you might attend one of these meetings and voice support for these intrepid entrepreneurs. However, be forewarned that if you have existing customers in staunch opposition to the potential new licensee you might not want to be seen.
Instagram has its finger on the pulse of your town or city. The hashtag #newrestaurant has over 370,000 posts. But how does one search for such multiple hashtags at once? I like using Phantom Buster, which is a cloud-based SaaS that performs code-free automation and data extraction. Simply sign up for the free version, link your Instagram account, and run a search on multiple hashtags like #newrestaurant + #brooklyn.1
Note LinkedIn updates. Who just announced that they’ve accepted a new job on LinkedIn? People love to let others know when they’ve welcomed new opportunities into their lives. Pay attention. In some cases, this technique will only make you aware of when a contact has accepted a position at an existing account. However, you strike out if you don’t swing at any… ugh, sports metaphor.
Walk everywhere; look at everything. Just because you can accomplish a massive amount of research online, doesn’t mean that should be your exclusive method for sourcing leads. Nothing beats pounding the pavement and keeping an eye out for construction. If you’re new to this game, you’d be surprised at how many occasions find you meeting a new buyer just because you knocked on a soaped-up window of a future account.
Sound too technical? I will happily run your first report for you if you’re a paid subscriber. Additionally, I’m willing to arrange office hours where I can show you how to do it.