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The New Wholesaler: Identifying & Applying Key Learnings From Navigating the COVID Pandemic

August 26, 2020

The New Wholesaler: Identifying & Applying Key Learnings From Navigating the COVID Pandemic

A Guest Post From Wes Verno of Verno Consulting

Even though the industry has experienced a large amount of change over the past decade, historically, most wholesalers adjusted to the changes by continually tweaking the way they were already structured and going to market. During the last several months, mostly out of necessity, wholesalers had to learn how to be highly flexible and make sudden, frequent, and dramatic adjustments throughout their operation.

As a result of the impact caused by COVID and the adjustments wholesalers had to make, many wholesalers are actually experiencing higher profits during the pandemic compared to the same months of previous years. This is directly attributed to the combination of increased sales and decreased expenses driven by the reduction of unprofitable work and greater efficiencies throughout the whole operation.

It is important for wholesalers to take a step back and identify the major learnings gained from navigating the last several months in order to apply the positive insights going forward, even after the pandemic is behind us.

The following list of truths learned and affirmed during the pandemic should help paint the picture of what the ‘new wholesaler’ needs to look like going forward:

  1. Significant profit improvement can come from improved efficiency

  2. Every wholesaler needs a service policy to manage frequency to their accounts

  3. Off day deliveries should be looked as a conditional service, not as an automatic entitlement

  4. On-premise is even less profitable than everyone thought

  5. All draft is not good draft and wholesalers should only seek out profitable draft placements

  6. Many large accounts will grow if they are properly serviced

  7. Online ordering is a viable sales mechanism and most types of retailers can successfully place orders using the online portal

  8. Channel specific sales organizations can be very inefficient

  9. There is a big difference between a sales rep that is service-oriented and a sales rep that can actually sell

  10. Wholesaler management and supervisor spans of control need to increase

  11. Wholesalers can sell a lot more beer with a lot fewer SKUs

  12. Poor performing product placements are an issue for most wholesalers

  13. Wholesalers need to be tighter when bringing on new SKUs and more willing to cut poor-performing SKUs

  14. Brands can sell and grow with significantly less advertising and fewer, if any, special events

  15. Wholesalers can succeed without the distractions caused by excessive supplier interference (such as meetings, ride-withs, crew drives, etc.)

Interested in Learning More About Verno Consulting?

For more detail about each of the above learnings and how wholesalers can adjust accordingly, contact Joe & Wes Verno at & subscribe to Verno’s Beer Brief, the leading best practice publication dedicated to the beverage distribution business.

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