March 20, 2017

What You Need To Know Before Walking Into A Buyer Meeting (PODCAST)

Industry expert Tim Forrest, of Tim Forrest Consulting, shares insightful information about how food brands can best be prepared when walking into a buyer meeting.


Jennifer:We’re talking with Tim Forrest today. Tim, as you will hear in today’s podcast, has a very illustrious background. He brings decades of experience in the food industry to today’s interview. In short, he is a marketing and distribution consultant to food companies. He’s assisted his clients in adding thousands of retail locations, millions of dollars in sales, and capital investment to their businesses. Tim Forrest Consulting, the company that he runs, is celebrating it’s 20th year this year. Tim, thank you so much for joining us.


Tim Forrest :Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and share.


Jennifer:Well, like I said, really excited. I think part of my excitement of having you on today is because you truly have seen every side of this industry. I know a little bit about your background, but I’d love if you could share with our listeners that you have quite literally worked your way up from the ground level in the food industry. Can you tell us a little bit about your story, how you got started in the food world, and your journey to today?


Tim Forrest :Yeah, thank you so much. It started in school, I needed a job. I got a job loading food trucks. That’s been 30 years ago. I had no idea at the time it would lead to all the things that have occurred, from just to go on and on. I’ve spoken at events all around the world. I’ve got governments that are clients of mine in the food industry. You shared some of the business results that my clients have succeeded. I had no idea at the time loading food trucks that the food industry was going to be my career, but it turned into that.


So much of the success that I’ve had, I can trace back to the roots of beginning at the bottom, really pulling orders for food trucks and seeing the industry from the backdoor, from loading docks, from storage rooms and really understanding. It started back then. I’ve had success with major league baseball, NFL, you could just go on … theme parks, Disney. All that really started from loading those food trucks. Eventually, I moved up. I was driving food trucks and delivering. That’s when I started going into the back doors of all these different facilities and really understanding the operation. It just kind of continued, opportunities presented themselves and I took advantage of them, and job promotions.


A friend called me, said “Hey, there’s an ad in the paper, Tim, for an area manager for the state of Georgia for Unilever, Unilever Foods.” I really didn’t know that much about it.


I was like, “Okay, yeah. Well, I’ll see,” but I ended up going to work for the largest food company in the world very quickly after graduating school, and with this, the food distribution background, it was very exciting.


Jennifer:Yeah, and so having that background, and I love … That reminds me of … one of the favorite things I ever heard was that sometimes we start down these paths, not necessarily knowing where we’re going to end up, but that each of the pieces of knowledge that we gain along the way really prepares us for that next step. That certainly sounds like the case from you is that starting from that ground level of loading the trucks and then getting in the back doors of these stores. All of that is knowledge that you learned firsthand as opposed to necessarily hearing from somebody else. That’s huge in how you help your clients today.


Tim Forrest :Exactly, and you couple that with, for ten years, I worked for the largest food brands in the world between Nestle and Unilever. The training that they provided and the focus they give … because they’re so large. My time and talent was invested specifically in marketing and sales. I really didn’t have much to think about or do, or much action beyond that. I was so focused on growing revenue that I learned how they did it and the methods they used. That’s how, 20 years ago, I started my consulting company using those insights and those … I want to almost call them ‘templates,’ but the methods and paradigms that I learned and was taught, I applied those to my clients. That’s been the essence of Tim Forrest Consulting.


Jennifer:That’s obviously, for the folks who are listening today, I mean that’s huge and specifically, trying to grow their food brand from where it is today to get into larger retailers, is a real struggle for smaller and medium sized brands. I’ll also add to that, not just getting in, but staying in those retailers.


Tim Forrest :Right.


Jennifer:I always say, it’s actually harder to stay in than it is to get in initially.


Tim Forrest :Yes.


Jennifer:Through your years of working in the food industry, all of your expertise, as you and I have talked before, you’ve developed this nine point system, if you will, that can help food brands get ready to pitch big box retailers.


Tim Forrest :Yes.


Jennifer:Before we get to that, your nine pillars of big food brand success though, can you tell us a little bit about what makes it different getting in front of a big box retailer and a big box buyer versus a smaller specialty store? What do the folks who are listening just need to know, kind of from a high level, about what makes that experience different?


Tim Forrest :Sure. There are some massive differences. At first blush, when you first think about it, you would think, ‘Well, it’s just another sales call.’ Or, ‘It’s just another … It’s an additional extension of my marketing and sales process, and it’s just another buyer.’ The only difference might be the volumes might be much larger. Really, it’s really a totally difficult world. When you’re working with these larger, big box retailers, you can break it down into real simple areas. One is, just to real quickly go through, you’ve got risk reduction, you’ve got the systems of the big box retailers have involved, you’ve got the focus of the buyer along with the fact that the buyer is really a gatekeeper, and along with all the data needs. Such a large organization, there’s data.


When you jump into that, and really get into the details, it starts to impact how you deal with these buyers, how you deal with the sales call, and also the information and the strategy that you bring to it in your presentation. That’s what built into my nine pillars is that I took the lessons I learned from working the largest brands in the world, and helping them to expand their business with the big retailers. The systems that they developed, that’s just what naturally led into my nine pillars; but to dive in a little bit deeper into the buyers.


For instance, a buyer with a large big box retailer, they’re much less entrepreneurial and they’re much more focused on eliminating risk in their decision making process. That’s different. The smaller retailers that you work with, local chains, local stores, they’re much more aggressive. They’re much concerned about the competition and so they’re much more innovative. The things that you bring to the sales table, the sales process, you need to take that into account as you go forward with them and think about what can you do to mitigate some of their concerns, and … the issues that they have [inaudible 00:07:27].


One simple thing, if you just realize the buyer that you’re presenting to is not going to approve your product. It’s going to almost 100% be done by a committee at a later date. How are you going to make it easy? What are you going to do to make it simple for your buyer to present your item and get a successful answer to go forward and to put your item in distribution? That’s something that is very important to me when I present, and when I work with buyers, with big box retailers, is I want to make sure that I’m helping them to be successful in their review and when they’re presenting to their bosses and their team.


Jennifer:Let me ask you, when you talk about ‘risk,’ are you talking about risk … Are Does risk mean worried about bringing a product on that isn’t going to sell well? Is risk mean a quality control standpoint? All of the above, none of the above? What counts as risk for them?


Tim Forrest :Sure, Jennifer. Yeah, really I boil it down, and for my thinking and the way it helps me to think, is that they want to keep their job. They want to make their budget and their goals, along with move up within the organization. I hate to call them a cog in the wheel, a cog in the machine, but they’re a small part of a much larger organization. They want to make sure that whatever they’re doing and the actions that they take, that do not negatively impact their standing within the organization.


Everything that I do, I think, ‘How can I make them look better? How can I take away so that the things that they’re doing, such as they’re going to take the opportunity to put my item on the shelf … How can I somewhat mitigate their role in that, or take away any exposure on their part that they’re making sound decisions, and that they’re showing the information so that others can help make the decision, so that there’s some transference of any of the risk associated with bringing a new item into the organization and getting it authorized?’


Jennifer:You bring up such a great point. It made me think about it’s about knowing your target audience. In this case, when you’re going in front of these buyers, it’s knowing what they need and what they want, and like you said, what’s going to make them successful. In that case, we’ll quote, your target audience might be the end consumer. When you’re going into that meeting, it’s sounding like you’re telling me your target audience is that buyer.


Tim Forrest :Yes. The buyer and also the buying committee. You’ve got to help your buyer. You’ve got to get your buyer to buy into your product, and the reason that your product needs to be in their shelf, and to help them. At the same time, you need to assist them in getting it through the buying committee.


Jennifer:That seems like a perfect segway to diving in a little bit and talking more about these nine pillars of success for food brands that you developed based off of all your experience working with these big food brands, and helping them get in, and maintain sales, and grow sales through the big retailers. Can you walk us through; and obviously we’re not going to be able to go into a tremendous amount of detail in the course of this podcast, but can you walk us through a little bit about these nine steps and tell us about them?


Tim Forrest :Sure. I’ve just identified again, just these are basically taken from some of the biggest food brands that I’ve worked with. They’re my presentations and PowerPoints and the work that I did prior to starting my company all those years ago. I was carrying in information. This is the nine categories that almost all the information would fall into, and just real quickly, product innovation, creative execution. It was customer centric, consumer insights. We had retail insights. We demonstrated that we were consumer connected to bring strong brands to the table. We would talk to the retailers and customers about how we’re going to build traffic.


We always ended, and this is something a lot, so many times, I see smaller food companies don’t share this, but we always had a business case; something related to dollars. I ran through that very quickly, the nine pillars. You can go to my website or just google ‘Tim Forrest Nine Pillars’ and there’s a lot of things online you can go into deeper detail. Did you want me to jump in real quick and talk a little bit more detail about the individual pillars?


Jennifer:I would love that. Yes. Again, for listeners, as always, we’re going to include links to Tim’s website and the transcript for this podcast. You’ll be easily able to go over there and look at these in more detail. Yes, Tim, if you could share a little bit more detail about one or all of these, that would be great.


Tim Forrest :Yeah, be glad to. It all begins with an innovative product. It’s just so common sense. Everyone knows that. It needs to be product innovation. When we talk about product innovation, though, it needs to be connected to the consumer. The definition that I use and that I share with my clients is, we need to demonstrate this is an unmet consumer need. It’s important that the product that we bring is just not innovative, and we’re bringing some really cool new features, or new flavors. We need to explain to them why it’s an unmet consumer need and document that. There’s all sorts of products out there that we can talk about that [inaudible 00:13:08] product innovation, like pre-cooked bacon. The squeeze pouches that have grown so big over the last few years, the applesauce in the squeeze pouches on the go, you’ve got hundred calorie snack size. If you just go to the produce section, the salad blends, where the salad is already ready to go.




Tim Forrest :That’s a product innovation, whereas just a few years ago, everyone bought heads of lettuce. Just some ideas there to show you, as far as the creative execution, you want to think about and you want to demonstrate. We’re talking about a presentation to gain distribution, but really this [inaudible 00:13:47] through the heart of your entire company as far as marketing creating new products. You want to demonstrate with your packaging and your programs that what you’re doing will get noticed by your target consumers. The creative execution is going to be appropriate and smart for who you think your ideal consumer is.


[inaudible 00:14:08] Since Batter Blaster is a form of a pancake waffle mix. It comes in a can. It’s instant, ready to go. It looks fun, packaging is designed specifically to get the point of what it is across to the consumer. It’s like POM Wonderful, this special packaging is so unique. You see nothing like that. You’ve not seen anything like that before it came out, primarily in the juice category. They also, to creatively execute it, they came through and did everything that they could to be sold through the produce section as well.


Jennifer:That’s true. I never thought about that, but yes. Sorry.


Tim Forrest :Yeah, no problem.


Jennifer:I was envisioning the bottle as you were talking, and then when you said that, I was like, “Oh my goodness. That’s right, they are in the produce section. They’re not in the juice section.”


Tim Forrest :That was a part of their creative execution with their programs, they called produce buyers. The third leg of what I call the nine pillars is being customer centric. You want to demonstrate to your buyers how your company and your product resonates with your ideal consumer. What can you do to build up the fact, and how can you demonstrate how your product works in the life of the consumer? It’s a lot I’m sharing, there’s a lot. I just shared a lot, as far as the words. A picture’s worth a thousand words. Just simply show some natural photos of your product being seen by your ideal consumer, video. There’s a lot of things that you can do there, but the idea is that you need to demonstrate that it needs to be a part of what you’re doing, and to think about it.


At the same time, customer centric, that’s your company. Consumer insights, that’s you providing to the buyer who your consumers are. What are the characteristics of your buyer and when do you this, you take on a much higher role than actually just bringing a product to the table. You’re helping to educate the buyer on their market. For example, some of the things I’ve done in the past for very large retailers.


I’ll go in and say, “I understand my customer so well, my consumer, and then I understand your shoppers so well within your stores. We only want to be in a third of your locations. These are the stores that we want to go into to start the product.” When you start to talk like that, and to understand your business in that format, it provides a level of comfort and a mitigation of risk for the buyer when they start thinking about [inaudible 00:16:48] the product in and how they’re going to go forward with what you’re doing.


Jennifer:Yeah, I could definitely see that. Absolutely.


Tim Forrest :Then, retail insights, you start to, as you expand beyond that information, you want to start getting into helping the retailer to give them direction on how to retail your product. A lot of people think, ‘Oh Tim, what do you mean? They’re the retailer. I’m manufacturing this product.’ You really need to bring to the table some ideas, as far as best methods, seasonality, great promo ideas, pricing and merchandising for your product. You’re the one that’s going to know more about your product than anyone. You’re going to care more about it than anyone. You really need to spend some time on helping the buyer to understand. A lot of times, I’ve worked with buyers, particularly big box retailers, and they were in the luggage department or some other area of the store and not even food related. They’re stepping in and they don’t necessarily have the experience or insight that you do in the food category, much less your specific product line.


Jennifer:That’s a really interesting point. Yeah, I think so many of us, we automatically assume that whoever the food buyer is, understands the industry inside and out. That’s not the case, you’re telling us.


Tim Forrest :Exactly. You also, the buyers want you to think they’re all knowing. They have it all put together. They have all the insight. They really are looking for someone, some other suppliers are providing them insights. They’re supplying them numbers. They’re supplying demographics and also, insight into the consumer. They’re getting that information from most likely, other suppliers. It’s important that you understand your business and understand who your customer is so that you can share that and relate that to them, so that it can improve the business case of what’s happening.




Tim Forrest :Even the next one, I’m just going down the list. The next one is being consumer connected. You really need to do everything that you can to show the buyer how your company is connected to the consumer, even if you’re a tiny company that only does business in a part of the city; and you’re really very small. You don’t think you’re very well connected to your consumer, you better be. You need to be. You need to demonstrate testimonials, emails, your sales, Facebook likes, your social media engagement, anything that you can do to have that in the presentation. It needs to be in the presentation. It needs to be covered.




Tim Forrest :Even if you think it’s not as big as Kraft or Nabisco, that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re putting your best foot forward. You’re thinking about the buyer and how your consumer connections are going to relate to the business at hand. If you can’t do that, you need to step back and figure that out. There’s lots of things that you can do there, but that needs to be a part of it.


Buyers, they’re looking for strong brands. Anything that you can do in the presentation and in the process to demonstrate the power of your brand and it’s performance, that’s really what they want to understand. They want to understand how your product is performing, specifically how your brand is performing, and to think about how is going to perform in their location. What customer success stories can you provide? When I say ‘customers’ at this point, it’s other retailers, other operators, other locations, even a gift shop. How can you share some insight?


Also remember, you asked me earlier, Jennifer, about these big store retailers. Something that’s … A lot of people don’t realize, the average … and I can pull the numbers. We can get the exact number. Let’s just say in general, the average skew, average item at a grocery retailer in America today, sells about $12 per week in sales at one location. What a lot of the smaller food companies have to their advantage, and I always take advantage of this, is that they … generally often times, have very specific local market. They’ve developed personal relationships with lots of folks that are buying their items.


It’s not at all unusual for me to work with a client that has a handful of locations that will do 150, 200 dollars in sales in one location in a week. When you bring that data, and you share that with a buyer that has 100 stores, or 400 stores, or even 3,000 stores, you’re starting to get their attention because you can scale that up and start to see the numbers. It’s tremendous, compared to say, what they’re used to seeing, which would be an average store unit movement of about $12 a week per item.




Tim Forrest :Yeah. Even if you’re only in a dozen stores, if those are specialty stores … For instance, say you’re in [inaudible 00:22:08] winery gift shops. You’re doing really well because your customer is there, you’re going to have big numbers. You want to take advantage of that and share how strong a brand you are. You don’t want to walk away from that. So many people, they don’t take that into account. They don’t add that.


The next point, if you’re Kraft, or Nabisco, or Coca-Cola, you’re in there talking about building traffic for not only the retailer, but also the category and the department. How is it you’re going to do that, and then what are you going to do to drive business to the store, and then into their … It can be something as simple as sending emails to all your customers that have sent you notes. It can be you’re going to do samples on the radio, in their markets, and demonstrate that, or coupons. There’s just so many different opportunities, but you need to be discussing that and it needs to be part of your presentation.


So many clients, so many smaller food companies, they think, ‘That’s not my responsibility. You know, I’m here to … I’m baking my product. I’m mixing my product. I’m bottling it. I’m labeling it. You can take care of everything else, that’s your job. My responsibility stops at the loading dock, you know, when I unload at your stores.’ But, that’s not the case. The successful food marketing companies in America and manufacturers, they take this into consideration. They want to drive their business.


It’s not a matter of, ‘Initially I want to help retailers drive business.’ They want to drive their business, and if it requires getting consumers to go into the retailers to ask for or pick up their item, they’re taking that action. They’re dropping coupons. They’re doing advertising. They’re having people manage their social media content. They have email lists, and all kinds of different promotions, and practices such, that people, before they go to the store, they’re getting it put onto the list, the grocery shopping list, ‘pick up XYZ item,’ whatever that is, so that they’re building traffic. Also, they’re going to events, and fairs, or footballs.


Some of my client, I love to work with professional sporting events because you’ll get … Say, at a football game, you’ll have a 100,000 consumers that are in one area. If you could disseminate coupons to as many as possible, or get them to sample a product, they can go out to all their different stores and ask for the product, and make things happen. That’s a way to drive traffic. What I’ll do at those sorts of things is we’ll give out coupons, and we’ll [inaudible 00:24:42] name on the coupon. ‘If you like this product and you want more of it, go pick it up at XYZ retailer.’


The last of my nine pillars is the business case. What’s the financial impact to the category? You need to be talking and sharing in your presentation while you’re presenting it. The financial impact on the category. What’s going to be the revenue? What are your sales? What kind of profits are you going to drive for the retailer? You’re going to discuss your unit movement. What it gets down to is you want to provide them an expected outcome for the relationship, what are going to be the sales? All of this information, it shouldn’t be intimidating or scary. It just should be part of the conversation, natural flow of the conversation as you’re sharing the item and going forward.


If you’ll cover all these items, you’ll be so much farther ahead than if you just ignore them or don’t even … skip right over them, and just want to share about the quality of your product, how awesome it is. How great it tastes. You just go through all the different qualities of the food, how well it’s cooked. The beauty of it. What’s happening with it, nationally, some of the different trends. Why they should … You can get a particular category, or particular item. You really want to get into it and discuss the sales and profits, and expected united movement and their locations, and what is going to be the business case.


I’ve just ran through the nine pillars really quickly and gave kind of an overview. Jennifer, do you have any questions at all? You didn’t really stop me at all during my sharing of the pillars. What sort of questions do you have? What are your thoughts there?


Jennifer:I’ve had a whole bunch of thoughts as you’ve been talking. The main, for me at least, the main takeaway is that food brands, certainly the smaller food brands … Some of you who might be listening, might be thinking, ‘Wow, this feels really overwhelming.’ The reality is you have to go in and make … You’ve got to do your homework in advance and go in, and just make a really strong business case as to … It’s not just about how great the food tastes, or about how artisan crafted your product. It’s really about why consumers want it, why consumers need it, what problem you’re solving for them. Then, how you’re going to help the retailer, too, based off of what I was hearing you say, Tim. Is that correct?


Tim Forrest :Yeah, exactly. You have to walk before you run. If you’ll just begin collecting this and thinking about these nine different areas for your business, your business is going to … if it’s like other successful food companies, your business is going to be around for 10 years, 50 years, 100 years. This is a process. You need to start thinking about these categories and adding to it, and growing these different areas in your business as you go forward. Overnight, you’re not going to … It’s going to be an ongoing process. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s not something that happens in a week, doesn’t happen in a year. It’s something that will be ongoing for the growth of your business, ongoing for the life of your business.


Jennifer:Let me ask you, one question I did have was how do you … You talked about that, let’s say you’d get in front of the buyer and then it goes before a buying committee. How do you recommend disseminating this information in a way that the buyer can take it to the buying committee? Would you normally go into one of these meetings with all of this in like a PowerPoint presentation deck, as well as samples of the products. Or, once that food producer has all of this information or as much as they can put together before going into that meeting, how do they make sure that what they communicate to the buyer is going to get taken forward?


Tim Forrest :Right. There’s lots of different things to do. Number one is have a well organized presentation that doesn’t necessarily ramble and just go on and on, and is just very succinct and to the point; along with samples. There’s such simple things that you can do. One, if you can ask how many people will be at the buying committee, can I get samples for every person that participates. If they say there’s eight, make sure you have ten samples, something of that nature. Whatever the appropriate number is. If you’re in the competition, … if you’re already authorized and a major competitor of theirs, make sure that they know that. That right off the bat, that might be the key. Their competitors have your product on the shelf and they don’t, so you want to make sure that they know that. That will help. That might be the determining factor over all this information that we just discussed, as far as the nine pillars. You want to make them aware of that.


Also, think about what … A lot of people don’t want to hear this, or think about it. If for some reason, it doesn’t happen, you’re not successful, you want to explain and make comfortable to the buyer that if the product doesn’t work, that it’s not going to be the … Your company’s not going to be devastated or forced to go out of business because of that. You want to think about what sorts of programs and what kind of situation it would be if the product doesn’t work. The bigger companies will do that. They plan for, I hate to say ‘plan for failure,’ but if it doesn’t work, what’s going to happen?


I know working with one buyer, they shared with me that years earlier, they’d had a lot of different companies actually had gone out of business doing business with them because they’d grown the business, and then the items were discontinued. The company couldn’t go forward because so much of their volume was dependent on this large, big box retailer. You want to make sure that they understand that this is not going to harm your business, whether if you get the business and if you don’t. When we start talking about getting the business, there’s a lot of different issues that you can share with them during the process so that they’re more comfortable with that.


Really quickly, for them to think about to carry you forward and going forward, number one would be you can meet their orders. Think about what their volume is going to be, and that you have no problem meeting a two week window in orders. They give you an order, you can deliver it in two weeks. Your system, your warehousing, manufacturing, distribution, all of that, needs to be in line so that when you receive an order on Monday, two Mondays down the road, they can be receiving it in their warehouse; whatever that appropriate order is for their business. It needs to be 100% on your invoicing and your numbers, it needs to be 100%. You need to have a order fill rate of right at 100%. That’s just a couple of quick ideas on that.


Jennifer:Thank you so much for sharing that. I was thinking as you were talking about the fact that small and medium sized food businesses so often aspire to growing their businesses so that they become nationwide. That’s a great goal to have, but there are so many steps between here and there [crosstalk 00:32:06] to make sure that the logistics are in order, to make sure that your sales material is right, that your pitch is correct. Those things you were talking about of how can I make sure that orders are being filled, because the last thing you want to do is go through all that work to get in front of a buyer and a buying committee, and then not be able to meet the order. They’re not going to give you too many chances, if you’re not able to fulfill on time.


Tim Forrest :Right. I have a friend of mine, he’s out of the food business now because he grew so fast. He’s the one that told me this.


He says, “Tim, I’d rather be number one and in 500 stores, than just be on the shelf in 5,000 stores.” What he’s saying is he’d rather be number one adding value for the buyers in 500 stores, than just go out there and just get on the shelf everywhere you can. Then, all the problems start to happen. It all starts to fall apart. You can’t meet the order deadlines.


For instance, there’s things that can happen that you don’t plan for. He had a truckload of product. He had never shipped product across the country. When it arrived across the country, because of his packaging format, the labels had rubbed and he basically … Well, the order was refused by the buyer. He had a truckload of product that was damaged. He couldn’t sell it. He had to bring that back. It was basically a nightmare. That wasn’t what hurt his business, but that definitely was a setback.


The other thing is that’s so important, I know some very large food companies, large growing companies. Their goal is to grow at 15% per year. You can’t just keep doubling your business every year. You need to think about just what you said, Jennifer, an organized process to expanding your business.


Jennifer:I love that takeaway of the, “I’d rather be number one in 500 stores than in 5,000 stores.” Depending where you are as a food brand, focus on being number one in your local region first with your specialty retailers, and then focus on being number one in your tri-state area with your specialty retailers, or natural retailers, or whomever you’re going after.


Tim Forrest :Yes.


Jennifer:Grow your business in a smart, measurable way that, to your point, Tim, you don’t undermine yourself by growing too quickly.


Tim Forrest :Exactly, exactly. Yeah, a lot of the food companies, if you’ll look at their … I’ve had the opportunity, being 30 years of seeing so much of the growth. If you think about a radius … I’ve got this on my … I’ve got some different things, I’ve worked on this in the past. Just think of your office. Wherever your office is or production facility, think about a radius of four hours drive from your office, and think about the major market [inaudible 00:35:01]. Then, go out past that of eight hours. I get phone calls.


I have clients, “Tim! A friend of mine just said I should go to California and get in this retailer because of this opportunity.” They’re not even statewide where they are currently. They’re thinking about leapfrogging the entire country to go into this large retailer in California. You really need to, just what you said, Jennifer, as far as be systematic about it. I like to think of it as to just draw a radius within four hours of your office, and then think about the next radius of eight hours, and try to consolidate and be consistent and strong in your market area, and expand from there; from a position of strength.


Jennifer:That reminded me of I had a opportunity to meet an entrepreneur once who was very clear about what she wanted. That was the first step was making sure she understood what she wanted to get out of her business. She had drawn a radius of 100 miles from where her office was.


She decided, “I am just going to focus on that market.” She decided for herself and her life, she didn’t want the headaches of necessarily going nationwide; which certainly some listeners want to go nationwide and some might be looking to stay closer to home. Within that 100 mile radius while focusing just on specialty retailers, she had, at the time when I talked to her, this was a couple years ago, a business that had eight million dollars in revenue; which is a pretty nice lifestyle business when you’re able to keep … She was able to keep overhead pretty low. She didn’t have a massive sales team she had to support. She was able to create a really nice little business for herself, just focused on the 100 miles around her. She had great brand recognition.


She had buyers calling her from other states and from other cities saying … She happened to be in the Napa Valley area, like, “Oh, I was in Napa visiting. I saw this. I’d really like to carry you in our stores.”


She said, “We’re just not there yet.” Again, to that point of just try and own your market, whatever that is, first.


Tim Forrest :Yes.


Jennifer:Plus, that gives you the information then that you can go into these bigger buyers and say, “Well, we are doing this many inventory turns. We’re doing this much sales,” and all those points that you were talking about, Tim.


Tim Forrest :Exactly, exactly. She’s so smart. That’s so smart with the 100 miles. I would say that’s the fastest way to grow and become a nationwide brand is to focus on your local market, is to focus on the 100 miles or the four hours from your home, and to learn your business so well, … and to build your brand to be so successful and understand your consumers such that you’re bringing really a business case that you can scale as you decide is appropriate.


Jennifer:I just have to laugh because I’m like, “Wow, that’s … ” You shared so much great stuff with us today, but that’s a great takeaway. From somebody who’s had 30 years of experience in the food industry to say, ‘Here’s the number one thing you must do is just focus on knowing your customers and your market, and owing that first, and then growing out of that.’ There’s no better takeaway from this podcast than that.


Tim Forrest :Wow.


Jennifer:Certainly Tim, we’ve talked about these nine pillars at a high level. You gave us a lot of great information. For those of you who are listening, like I said, we’re going to link to Tim’s website on the transcript for this podcast so that you can go in; because there is a lot more information on his website. If you do Google ‘Tim Forrest nine pillars,’ a lot of other information comes up as well. I think that certainly if you’re looking to grow your business, and if you’re thinking whether it’s now or down the road that you would like to grow your business into bigger box retailers, or into bigger retailers, the information that Tim has available is definitely something that you want to check out. Like I said, we can’t in 30 minutes cover 30 years worth of experience. There’s a lot more information on Tim’s website.


Tim Forrest :Yeah. Thank you so much, Jennifer. This information is great to go into big box retailers, but also it’s going to help everyone with their business to be more successful and to understand their business at a grassroots level, working with whoever … Even if they’re working with just a handful of stores. I think this is great for anyone that’s going to go in and work with a buyer, and put them in a position of strength and success.


Jennifer:That’s a great point. Also, as you just brought up, also just to make sure that you understand your business; and so that whatever strategic decisions you’re making for your business in the next year, are in line with what you understand about your business and about your consumers, and about where you want your business to go.


Tim Forrest :Exactly.


Jennifer:Well Tim, thank you so much. Very, very much appreciate all of your help today and sharing all of your information, not even all. You just shared like a drop of your 30 years of knowledge, but sharing that with us anyway.


Tim Forrest :Thank you, Jennifer.


Jennifer:I hope to have a chance to talk to you again, because this was really helpful. Thank you.


Tim Forrest :Thank you very much. It was terrific. Thank you very much for having me. It was my pleasure.


Jennifer:Absolutely, thanks.


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