Brian Jahnke, an experienced executive in the foodservice equipment industry, has introduced a concept that connects multiple, non-competing manufacturers with foodservice consultants and key accounts in the hospitality sector to deliver outcomes that are aimed to meet everyone’s needs.
Launched under the company name Solutions International, the concept tackles the perceived limitations of a manufacturer’s traditional selling cycle, according to Jahnke.
“The challenge for the manufacturer is that its investment in sales is often disproportionate to the returns it can realise, especially when entering new markets,” he said. “The challenge for consultants and key accounts, on the other hand, is the desire to create beneficial, ongoing partnerships rather than just being asked to buy things.”
Jahnke believes the new concept addresses this disconnect: “By leveraging our existing relationships with key accounts and consultants and bringing them ‘solutions’ and the latest innovations from a small handful of manufacturers as opposed to a ‘product’ from a single manufacturer, we can turn the curve upside down and offer higher returns with lower costs.”
The concept can also involve distributors and kitchen design houses, with Jahnke detailing: “If the end customer uses a distributor design house for their projects, then I would include them in the discussions when my clients’ (the manufacturer’s) products are being considered for the customer’s projects.
“And if the distributor design house is already a distributor partner of the manufacturer, then they will automatically be involved in the projects.”
He will divide the cost of his time across each of the manufacturers, effectively serving as an outsourced business development executive but at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. He believes this is especially helpful for start-ups or new market entrants with interesting ideas deserving of a consultant’s attention, but with limited resources.
Jahnke feels that ‘conventional’ sales activities need a fresh approach in the foodservice sector: “Some manufacturers struggle to understand that the hospitality project sector is a very different business from managing dealers and other conventional sales activities, and they often assign such objectives to their regular sales people. Those conventional sales activities consume at least 85% of the sales managers’ time, leaving very little time to dedicate to projects.
“The hospitality key accounts and foodservice consultants require, however, a different and concerted approach and success or failure is often dependent upon the priority one gives to the relationships with them. It is no great surprise, therefore, when the manufacturers’ objectives are not achieved at the end of the year and the strategy is either scrapped or given lower priority.”
To many, he says, the investment in a full-time business development executive with the appropriate connections is simply beyond their reach. This is where his concept of a shared resource is aimed to assist: “It is all about creating a situation where all three parties – the key accounts, the consultants and the manufacturers – enjoy a tangible and long-lasting benefit,” he added.