​This Key Employee Is Your First Line in Beer Buyer Relations​

All members of the sales team are an integral part of your brewery’s plan to succeed, but it goes beyond the sales reps in each area of your brand’s territory.

A company’s delivery drivers for a brand that self distributes can be the face and relationship builder that is just as important as a sales rep, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Sales Manager Eric Butler explained recently during the 2022 Ohio Craft Brewers Association’s yearly meetings in Cincinnati.

​”[We] don’t think about the delivery drivers very much,” he admitted. “And for us, that is a crucial part of our business with our internal customers. You can probably say that our delivery drivers … they run those routes and are as important, or more important, than salespeople.”

When you’re hiring for that position, Yellow Springs‘ Sales Manager Shawn Combs noted that drivers are every bit as important as your sales reps.

“They are a face of the brewery, they come in the back doors, and they’re meeting people,” he said. “You want to get things in the back door or certain places, you have to have a good delivery driver who can be kind and be personable.

“If they show up and make it easy on [buyers], they’re more likely to give you that off delivery day if everybody’s treating them right.”

Streetside‘s Sales Manager, Martin French, explained that when he started at the Cincinnati brewery, he would do sales calls Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and do deliveries Thursday Friday.

“I’m hitting those accounts again,” he said. “You do kind of get to know and you kind of realize things, like after 10:30 the floor of this place is really slippery. You need to make sure you get kegs in there before that.”

Tips like that can help protect a delivery driver in the future and help plan better routes.

“You know there’s those places where there’s a​ ​basement where you can’t stand up, or the stairs are seemingly made of kitchen grease,” Butler said. “Getting kegs down there is like an act of bravery. I went to deliver a keg to a place like that and you understand how your drivers do this every day.

“We as salespeople think about what their days look like. And if you’re going to screw up somebody’s day you should at least know. And sometimes there’s nothing else you can do except [apologize].”

​Added Wolf’s Ridge Director of Distribution, ​Adam Hickernell: “We have people in place that have the drivers’ back. Inclement weather … all year round … whatever it is, you don’t think about how all the beer just gets there.

“There’s a really great deal of respect. Because until you’re the rep or you are filling in because the driver is sick or whatever, then you realize what kind of job they have to do. You really garnered quite a respect for how hard that job is.”

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