Customer visit to the North Sea coast: weatherproof and reliable

By ferry, island railway, bicycle or propeller plane – Thomas Bonk, METRO field sales force manager, goes the extra mile to reach his customers on the East Frisian coast.

The normal: Beeing on a boat as METRO Sales Force Manager

From island to island, by ferry, train or even aeroplane - that's Thomas Bonk's day-to-day work.

Sales Force Manager Thomas Bonk flies to his customers

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What´s it all about?

  • How METRO Customer Manager Thomas Bonk reaches caterers on the North Sea coast
  • How the METRO delivery service works on car-free North Sea islands
  • The challenges posed by the harsh North Sea weather

Wind whips over the sea. High waves crash against the rocks, driving spray over turbulent water. Conditions on the North Sea coast are unpredictable. The sea’s ebb and flow, the wind and rain, the tidal flats within which the East Frisian Islands lie – all these elements are in constant motion. Not infrequently, the weather’s shifting moods upset the schedules of the ferries and ships that serve the islands. But for Thomas, that’s no reason to stay in the office. For the last two years, the sales force manager has looked after METRO’s restaurant clientele on the East Frisian coast.
Because many of his customers are located in the islands, it isn’t unusual for his day to begin with a 6 a.m. ferry crossing. No problem for the 46-year-old. The conventional nine-to-five job isn’t his style anyway. To get to his customers on the island of Wangerooge, Thomas sometimes boards a prop plane. It all comes down to organisation. ‘I plan appointments according to my customers’ needs and what works best for them,’ he says. After the crossing, the journey continues by island railway or sometimes by bike, depending on the island. When he arrives, Thomas advises the restaurateurs in all matters concerning METRO’s products, delivery and digital services from DISH. The length of his visit is determined by what needs to be discussed. After an hour or two, he leaves to call on his next customer. ‘For a day on one of the islands, my appointment book is usually full,’ says the Wilhelmshaven native.

METRO delivery service by horse-drawn carriage or electric cart

When it comes to advising customers, a trusting relationship plays a decisive role. ‘Our customers have to be able to fully rely on us,’ Thomas explains. ‘In a lot of their locations, they can’t just drive to the nearest store to buy goods.’ The Pricke restaurant, for example, at the beachside in Dangast, lies about 50 kilometres from the nearest wholesale store. ‘To be well-prepared for the season, we talk with the customers well in advance about the products they want.’ Goods destined for one of the islands are transported by cargo ferry, then transferred to an electric cart or horse-drawn carriage for on-time delivery from the island harbour to the restaurants in the car-free zones.

Logistical challenges on the North Sea coast

A sudden turn in the weather will occasionally shut down ferry traffic, leaving Thomas stranded on an island. ‘That can happen faster than you might think,’ says the trained restaurant specialist. When it does, overnight accommodation can usually be found quickly, as ‘the restaurant proprietors in the islands are well-connected and people help each other out.’ In the worst case, shipping cancellations due to a storm surge or low water may waylay not just the sales force manager but also the goods themselves, preventing them from reaching the customers by water. Though it is infrequent, Thomas is prepared for such a scenario as well: ‘When necessary, we find other solutions.’ The last time a storm came in from the east, for example, he changed plans on short notice and had urgently needed products delivered to the islands by plane. Adverse weather conditions notwithstanding, Thomas enjoys his work on the North Sea coast. ‘I grew up here,’ says the father of three. ‘When I have a quiet moment, I breathe in the sea air and look out over the waves, and that gives me the energy I need for the rest of the day.’

TIPP

Whether on a North Sea island or in the big city, ordering is easy – by METRO app
The normal: Beeing on a boat as METRO Sales Force Manager

About Thomas Bonk

Thomas Bonk is a trained restaurant specialist. After working in the catering industry for 25 years in East Frisia and later in Hanover, he completed further training as a sales specialist through the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. After six years as area manager for five northern branches of Meyer Menü in Hanover, the father of three moved back to the North Sea. There he began his career as a customer manager at METRO and has been looking after catering customers on the East Frisian coast ever since.

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