Like any profession, you’ll find that some food brokers achieve greater amounts of success than others. This predisposition to achieving great things isn’t just down to luck – however, it comes from the careful cultivation of unique skills and habits that work to open new and exciting opportunities for those in the food brokerage industry.
Here, we’re going to peek into the secrets behind successful food brokers, and discover what it is that makes them so efficient and productive in their work. Whether you’re searching for the food broker that can give you the best results for your company, or you’re a professional that wants to enhance your abilities, this could be the one-stop article for all your needs.
So, What is a Food Broker?
Defining a food broker is simple enough – these are the professionals that sell products for a range of wholesale manufacturers – generally working on a retainer and/or commission to sell products. Wholesale creators turn to food brokers as a solution to help them get more out of their current sales team, allowing them to scale their sales costs significantly and get more revenue.
Defining effective food brokers is a little tougher. Many people labour under the false belief that food brokering is an easy concept. After all – all you need to do is show up and sell the food you’ve been given, right? However, effective food brokers aren’t just another disposable staff member. They have the skills required to make your business grow by not only selling your product, but making sure those products stay on shelves, and continue to leverage new opportunities for profits.
Effective food brokers use:
- Planning & Strategy: This allows these professionals to develop an effective portfolio of manufacturers and contacts that mean there’s always new sales and connections being made. Understanding who you’re going to target and why as a food broker is essential to making the links that lead to huge sales in the future.
Efficiency: Food brokers have to wear a lot of hats, and get a lot of different jobs done within any given day. That means that they need to be cautious with the way that they spend their time. Efficiency is everything to promoting productivity and exceptional performance towards a range of goals.
- Promotion: Once, only sales people in your team were responsible for the sales, but now your food broker can help you to maximise your marketing success too. The right broker can set up the ideal meetings for your business, and ensure that you’re taking the right steps towards making the right impression on your target market.
Now that we have a better understanding of what an effective food broker does – let’s take a look at some of the habits that transform everyday professionals, into pillars of success.
Habit 1: Knowing How to Pick Good Manufacturers
Effective food brokers need to consistently work alongside valuable manufacturers to ensure that they can be effective in their business. Picking the right manufacturer is part of a great broker’s solution for exceptional strategy and planning, and it means thinking about some of the following elements:
- Do you trust the manufacturer? (Do you have a signed brokerage agreement)
- How much time are you going to need to devote to them? (Some manufacturers are more high-maintenance than others, and you’ll need to establish whether the level of work is worth the potential for profits).
- Do they have the opportunity to build your network? (Some manufacturers will already be in stores, working with other brokers, and have connections to important references)
- What kind of sales support and marketing options can they provide? (Do they have a PR firm, demonstrations, or an online strategy?)
- Are they responsive and easy to communicate with?
Habit 2: Finding the Broker/Product Fit
As a food broker, it can be tempting to try your hand at selling all kinds of different products, but this is rarely an efficient way to do business. Often, the best solution is to search for manufacturers that can offer products that work in synergy with your existing products and connections. Not only should you be searching for products that are unique and easy to sell, but items that fit with your growing business. For instance, effective food brokers ask themselves:
- Do I already know someone who can lead to growth for this product?
- Do I have the sales expertise to give this manufacturer bigger profits?
- Can working with this product expand my growing portfolio?
- Does the product have a USP that fits with my existing reputation?
- Do I have a plan for promoting this product?
Habit 3: Ensuring Realistic Expectations
It’s not uncommon for businesses in search of a food broker to go into the relationship with unlimited amounts of enthusiasm. However, problems can occur when food brokers take on new clients that have set unrealistic expectations for their future. It’s often a good idea for brokers and clients to discuss the sales goals that are expected from their new relationship, and think carefully about whether those goals should be long-term, or short-term. Remember, when setting goals:
- Your ambitions should be measurable and easy to monitor
- Goals should form a series of steps towards success (no jumping in at the deep end)
- While enthusiasm is a good thing, it’s crucial to think carefully about what can actually be achieved by any product
- Researching the sales pattern of similar and existing products can be useful
- Brokers should never agree to goals that are absurd or out-of-reach
Habit 4: Thinking Big
Many food brokers work with huge accounts and smaller clients at the same time to help them achieve a sense of balance in their work. While it’s important for brokers to have, sales coming in from smaller clients to help them build their portfolio and pay bills, it’s also crucial for effective food brokers to think about how they’re going to develop a much larger strategic account that can pay off over time. The most successful food brokers:
- Evaluate the potential of each client they work with
- Understand the value of both small, and large companies
- Come up with long-term and short-term plans for success
- Know which customers are going to give them the best results
- Stick to what they’re good at
Habit 5: Running the Numbers
As we mentioned above, effective food brokers are all about planning, strategy, and preparation. That means that they’re constantly looking for effective ways to cultivate new prospects. A great food broker knows how to run the numbers and research new accounts so that they can constantly continue to build their network. Whether it’s cold calling or canvassing the neighbourhood, a food broker knows how to develop their own connections. For customers, a growing network indicates that a food broker is always busy, and dedicated to growing their own business – which means that they should also have the skills to help that customer grow their business too. Effective food brokers:
- Figure out their sales goals
- Look for new and innovative way to expand their connections and networks
- Develop business for themselves, and their clients on a regular basis
- Understand the value of running the numbers and staying prepared
- Know how to strategise for success
Habit 6: Keeping Track of Success
Most of the time, a successful food broker doesn’t just take steps to cultivate success – he or she also knows how they can monitor and track that success to inform future goals. In many circumstances, a food broker can keep track of success by:
- Setting goals
- Monitoring conversion rates from lead to appointment, and appointment to sale
- Adjusting the target number of leads contacted per day accordingly
- Implementing new and improved plans for success based on previous data
- Knowing when extra measures need to be implemented to avoid failure
Habit 7: Knowing How to Delegate
The truth is that the wholesale food industry is sorely lacking when it comes to staff. There’s a lot of professionals out there attempting to manage every task at once, by themselves – without the help of any trained professionals. However, effective food brokers know that running an efficient business means understanding how to delegate. Rather than allowing themselves to get overwhelmed by tasks that aren’t suited to their skill set, effective food brokers:
- Ask themselves whether each task may be better suited to a specific professional
- Learn to hand over the reins when they need to
- Get additional help with administrative work like invoicing and customer service
- Know how to spend the most time effectively selling
- Understand the value of good time management
Habit 8: Treating Time as a Precious Resource
Any individual within the wholesale food industry should know that time should never be taken lightly. Food is a unique product which suffers from having a limited sale time, which means that every opportunity needs to be taken as quickly as possible. Food brokers have to treat time as precious because they’re constantly searching for effective ways to scale their business, and the businesses that they work with. That means a good food broker:
- Will never waste time on lengthy visits and calls
- Will always ensure that punctuality is at the forefront of their business strategy
- Maintains exact timelines and schedules
- Knows how to plan and prepare for every day, week, and month
- Understands how valuable his or her client’s time is
Habit 9: Limiting Visits
Since most wholesale food brokers will work to earn commission, on top of their retainer, it’s crucial for them to be efficient with the way that they use their time. The last thing that they want to is to spend an entire day driving around, wasting money on gas, just to make no profits. Because they have to limit their visits, effective food brokers need to build strong relationships with their customers as quickly as possible. This means that a good food broker will:
- Always respond quickly to communications
- Be available for emails and phone calls whenever possible
- Use automated services and systems whenever possible
- Put reorders and orders in place through instant and effective technologies
- Use visits only when necessary
Habit 10: Keeping Contact Short and Sweet
A good food broker knows that the average buyer is a busy person. Though manufacturers do enjoy seeing their products in action, they don’t have time to go through a day’s worth of meetings or sit around waiting for communication. After all, running an effective business requires constant focus. As such, an effective food broker will:
- Always have focused meetings that are concise and straight to the point
- Make sure that his or her contacts have all the information they need
- Keep notes and be incredibly organised
- Ensure meetings are as productive as possible
Habit 11: Staying Ahead of the Curve
Many effective food brokers understand that if they want to stay competitive in an increasingly saturated market, they’ll need be constantly improving their knowledge of the industry – from rules and regulations, to the latest technology that can be leveraged in the market. An effective food broker understands:
- The details surrounding private labelling,
- What needs to be put in place to host an international food buying showcase
- How to get manufacturers in touch with excess inventory and stock buyers
- What the latest technology on the market can offer
- What the rules and regulations are for each market surrounding labelling, packaging, and more
Habit 12: Investing in Marketing
Food brokers today need to stay as competitive as possible, which often means knowing how to market their skills. There are a range of different marketing solutions that can be leveraged today to help businesses approach new potential clients and expand their existing networks, and effective food brokers know how to make the most out of each of them. Many successful food brokers:
- Know how to share a brand story
- Can put manufacturers and clients in touch with marketing professionals
- Understand the value of effective marketing strategies
- Research the correct marketing methods for specific products
- Know how to choose the right marketing to attract specific leads
Habit 13: Creating Strong Working Relationships
Similar to many other industries, the wholesale food business thrives on valuable relationships. Though many people spend their time communicating through messages and emails, food brokers can still take the time to build strong relationships with their connections, meaning that they end up with great referrals from manufacturers and buyers, and provide their clients with an unmatched sense of service. An effective food broker leaves his clients feeling:
- Satisfied and supported with great customer service
- Comfortable – they can trust their food broker
- Informed and educated about the latest information in the market
- Ahead of the curve when it comes to growing for success
- Prepared to tackle a range of challenges
Habit 14: Building a Culture for Success
Since effective food brokers understand the value of delegation, and quality – they only work with people who they believe can add value to the services that they offer. In other words, they do their best to expand and improve upon their existing company framework. Whether recommending people to expand other brands, or scaling their own company, effective food brokers:
- Only hire individuals that reflect the values of their customers
- Focus on maintaining high standards
- Promote exceptional skill and experience
- Search for only the best results
- Use professionals with proven skills and backgrounds
Habit 15: Knowing It’s About More than Selling
Finally, effective food brokers know that being successful in the current food industry isn’t just about selling products. Rather than simply taking orders, food brokers are now responsible for a range of crucial elements, from strategic planning, to marketing and promoting, to ensuring increased lead generation.
With a food broker, clients might find themselves seeking out exporting services, international buying showcases, private label development, and even information on how to move excess inventory. That’s why all successful food brokers:
- Have a range of skills designed specifically for the wholesale food industry
- Constantly expand and improve their knowledge
- Know where to delegate tasks that are outside of their reach
- Have the connections to build new opportunities for their clients
- Take selling to the next level
For any wholesale food business that wants to enhance profits, improve opportunities, and make the most out of their place in the market, an effective food broker could be the ultimate tool on the path to success.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about this article, please get in touch with Steve on: on +61424 503 837.