Monday, April 30, 2007

Beverage Company Philosophy with Respect to Sports

Beverage Company Philosophy with Respect to Sports

Let’s face it we love sports. We love our favorite teams, heroes, and legends of different sporting events. Our devotion to these pastimes transcends into every facet of the beverage business world. Consideration of the intricacies of different sports will help you discover how your company compares to the rest of the field. The following ten key elements will help you discover how your organization stacks up, not only against the competition, against the business community itself. Remember, there is no right way or wrong way, winning comes to you in the form of your bank statement. Let’s take a look:

1. Do you have team players or individuals in your organization?

  • Team players will work together for the common good of the company. The whole team strives to make sure all tasks are completed, from the most menial to the most demanding. Success is attained by the achievement of goals as a company.
  • Individuals, on the other hand, keep score by their own success or failure. By setting individual goals, an employer can give the individual his own opportunity to climb up or down the company ladder. The employer will know the strong, goal-oriented workers and he will know the weak links of his organization.
  • A winning organization has a bunch of dedicated individuals working as a team to achieve goals, no matter how big or small.
2. Is your company offensive minded or do you play defense?
  • I have always thought playing offense was more fun. Following are some examples of playing offense in the beverage business: a beverage company getting the distribution rights and trying to sell any product in the market before the competition, using a proactive marketing style with pricing and merchandising, borrowing money to buy new territories and equipment, and trying new technologies to save time and money. The favorite quote of an offensive minded beverage company, “It costs money to make money.” These guys are the dreamers. Beverage companies love for you to play offense. They would much rather you spend money than make it.
  • Even though offense is more fun, defense has its proponents. Playing defense wins championships, or as far as they’re concerned, makes money. The defender concentrates on taking care of the products and the business relationships that he already has, the defender has little to no debt, the defender doesn’t try to change something that has stood the test of time, the defender builds his respective marketplace and doesn’t chase new territories. The defenders are guardians of an era in the beverage business of days gone by. I love the nostalgia that comes with conversations with these people. Their favorite quote, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
3. How do you express yourself?
  • Do you love attention, crave the drama, or quietly go about your day-to-day responsibilities. We have to understand and appreciate that we are all local personalities. Retailers, consumers, community leaders, politicians, all love (and hate) to see us. The way that you present yourself to the public has a far-reaching effect on your customers, who just so happen to be your neighbors. As a beer distributor, I have struggled all my life on where people draw the line in social situations. I have felt out of place in church, but I love and cherish God. I have had to contend with ill-timed comments and complaints at school, my kid’s activities, in a restaurant having dinner with family, in bed at eleven o’clock at night. The list could go on forever. I also am expected to be a certain party animal (this has gotten me into trouble on numerous occasions, though not with the law). In all of my social engagements, I have always taken the aw-shucks attitude and gone about my business. This has worked well for me in the past as a beer distributor and a good neighbor. The way that you present yourself to the public helps your business by more ways than you think. If someone doesn’t like you, they will not buy from you.
4. Do you play it safe or do you take chances?
  • There comes a time when all companies choose the safe route or “go all out.” I equate taking chances to spending money. Maintaining a balance of safety and risk is the only way the insure a healthy growth of your business. The choices you make everyday determine if you are winning or losing.
5. Do you train, practice, and prepare?
  • Training gives a sense of knowledge and know how to your employees. Practice instills a predisposition in their attitudes on how to win. Preparedness gives them the tools to succeed.
6. Is there a fierce, competitive rival?
  • The number one way to understand ones business is to understand ones competition. A fierce, competitive spirit is the major underlying component that drives our capitalist society. A good competitive environment makes for stronger businesses in our markets. No competition will lead to lethargy.
7. Is success rewarded?
  • Successful players are always paid well. In the beverage business we have to reward successful and productive employees in order to keep them. Employees must be given goals, must be communicated with on where they stand, must be given the tools to succeed, and must be compensated accordingly. I use the survival of the fittest technique: give the employee every reason to excel in his environment and if he can’t, cut your loses and move on. So, you can say that success should be rewarded and failure won’t be tolerated.
8. Are there to many rules and regulations?
  • This is the hardest part of the beverage business for me. As a beer distributor, there are many restrictions on us as businesspeople. As the three-tier system affords some protection, it also takes away creativity. Brewers can’t be distributors, distributors can’t be brewers, and retailers can’t be brewers or distributors. Vertically integrated the beer business will probably never be. This is why we must constantly examine the ways that our businesses are conducted. The ever-evolving wholesaler that legally, and I do mean legally, manipulates the system will grow stronger. I would compare it to NASCAR. Coming up with ingenious slotting fees and CMA programs that aren’t too costly will benefit. Providing a cheaper type of good service to the retailer would be nice. Simplifying all the reporting the beverage companies require on a daily basis would be magnificent, we are all suffocating under the load of paper. Contracts written to give brand ownership, kind of like brand real estate, in our territories. I will keep adding to this list.
9. Are the boundaries getting cloudy?
  • Everyday I get communication from other wholesalers about who is buying who, beverage companies and wholesalers squabbling about this and that, deals being made behind other’s backs. It’s just beverage politics. I compare this to two little old ladies out by the picket fence in the backyard talking about everyone in the neighborhood. We are all gossip mongers, we love to get all information good or bad. The only way to stay on top is to be approachable and attentive with all suppliers and customers.
10. Do you keep score?
  • Do you keep score? I mean really keep score. It starts with the balance sheet and ends with a salesman’s distribution on one certain package in the smallest account. It takes into effect the average dollar sale for every case of product you carry. Are you weighed down with expenses, salaries, and fixed costs. Do you know your profitability broken down by route? Do you build goals for the sales force that are tracked and the results are communicated to them effectively? Have you explored efficiencies in routing and warehouse labor. There are many ways to keep score in the business world and keeping score will definitely give you a good idea of how your company is doing. I will guarantee that you will learn some valuable information about the business and your employees.

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