If you missed our panel on “How Service Organizations are Adapting to Retail Challenges in 2022,” you’ve come to the right place. We’ve recapped the conversation which dove into how leaders in the retail services industry from SPAR, Green House Agency, and Basemakers Retail Merchandising are navigating the unprecedented challenges facing the CPG industry today by continuing to evolve their businesses, services, and relationships with customers.

Hosted by Repsly’s Chief Customer Officer, Matthew DePaolis, the panel included perspectives from across North America, featuring Niana Reid, General Manager at SPAR Canada, Mark Federman, Director of Emerging Programs at Green House Agency, and Max Baumann, President & CEO at Basemakers.

Each of the leaders sheds light on a handful of topics, including how they’re delivering value for their clients and continuing to manage and build powerful and effective field teams in the face of historically challenging labor markets; how they’re leveraging technology to turn challenges into opportunities; and what has them excited about the future of the industry.

 

Niana Reid, General Manager at SPAR Canada

SPAR Canada is a marketing, merchandising, and distribution services company located outside of Toronto, Ontario, that focuses on CPGs, electronics, and retailers offering a number of labor solutions across the markets. Niana discussed how Spar has gotten more resourceful in finding and retaining talent in order to meet the creative labor solutions their customers have been requesting. 

“We’re seeing in Canada that our customers would like to see more creative labor solutions to help solve short-term issues,” Niana said. “With turnover from labor shortages, they have more creative needs and we’ve been able to step up, certainly with the help of Repsly, to use a software that makes it fast and easy for the field rep.”

Niana went on to discuss the value of data and technology in their business and how they leverage it to make key decisions in the field every day. “The idea of why is our rep going to that location? What are they doing? What’s the value of it to our customers? And then predicting the value of the visit. Now, rather than a tactical to-do list, we think about what’s actually happening at store level and why?” Niana said.

Niana concluded by discussing how the pandemic has taught the world that most everything can be achieved quickly and more efficiently online now, and SPAR had to make sure the roles of their reps had that same easy experience.

“When they’re doing their job, it needs to be quick, accessible, and easy,” Niana said. “With Repsly’s help, we’ve given them infield tools to give us that data, provide that information in small towns, across Canada of what they’ve done, what they haven’t been able to do, and why in a very quick, easy way. And no question, we can see the benefit. The reps are happier. The quality of data is better. Our retention is higher.”

 

Mark Federman, Director of Emerging Programs at Green House Agency

 

Green House Agency is a marketing and field sales agency predominantly focused on the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage space with locations in Newport Beach (HQ), LA, New York, Miami, Toronto, and Mexico City. “We focus on the augmentation of personnel and the development of strategies that are rooted in insights and data that help our client partners understand the markets, the retailers, and the consumers, where they can get the biggest bang for their buck from an ROI perspective,” Mark said.

One of Green House’s larger initiatives this year is the development and analysis of data fields to create opportunities where their field teams can cross-leverage one another. Mark explained that their goal is to get a field sales member to approach problems through a marketing lens, vice-versa, a marketing team member approaching problems through a field sales lens, in the hopes of finding those opportunities where they can mutually amplify their ongoing output from an account level perspective.

When discussing how Green House has managed through global supply chain issues, Mark mentioned how having data in their hands at the store has helped manage those critical conversations with key stakeholders on what the status of product availability looks like, as well as managing expectations as to when things would “return to normal,” and lastly, utilizing that data to develop a strategy when channels come back online.

“Be flexible. You have to be constantly evaluating your processes and your systems to account for the change and adaptability that’s required to move in concert with supply chain issues and staffing shortages.”  – Mark Federman, Director of Emerging Programs at Green House Agency

“Be proactive. A lot of times it’s easy to focus on what’s right in front of you because you have deliverables with your clients and things and expectations that you have to deliver upon. But the ability to come to the table with data-driven insights and see the future is a key value add that clients are always going to be looking for in terms of being the problem solver or being that person that is able to kickstart those solution thoughts.” – Mark Federman, Director of Emerging Programs at Green House Agency

 

Max Baumann, President & CEO at Basemakers

Basemakers is a retail merchandising and field sale company focused in the food and beverage space that takes a sales approach to merchandising. Max explained that by working with Repsly and their clients, they’ve discovered what KPIs drive their businesses forward and then focus their efforts on increasing sales velocity.

As their business has continued to grow during the pandemic, he explained that the largest challenge right now is continuing to find quality field reps that can deliver a high level of services.

“The biggest challenge we’re still seeing linger is the talent market,” Max said. “I’m sure everyone’s heard about the great resignation and the macro trends going on. And especially in fields such as field sales management, where you’re frontline and it’s a more intensive job, it’s hard to find great talent. That’s our biggest focus right now: how do we deliver for our clients by bringing in the best talent, managing them, and executing against our goals.”

Max later discussed the importance of measuring data and how that relates to the ultimate goal: increasing sales velocity. What gets measured gets managed. A common phrase, but one that rings true, especially for Max who started Basemakers after it was unclear what the ROI was on activities he was spending money on for his brand several years ago. Now, sales velocity is the name of the game.

“It all comes back to one thing, sales velocity,” Max said. “Whether that sales velocity comes from adding a new skew, filling of voids that isn’t there. Or whether that sales velocity comes from prompting orders, or whether that sales velocity comes from gaining extra visibility with secondary placements, whether that be chip clips, the big end caps,  or side stacks.”

Max concluded by explaining Basemakers four-pillar approach to find and retain high-quality talent on their field teams to emerge from the pandemic stronger than when they entered. If you’d like to hear the four-pillar approach, please watch the full recording of the panel here.

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