Outside the windows, it is drizzling. Inside Peter Schmidt’s blue car, the METRO song is playing on the hands-free system. A tree-shaped air freshener with the inscription ‘New Car’ is dangling from the rear view mirror. The colleagues at METRO’s wholesale store in Düsseldorf are looking for geese from the new METRO Chef Gourvenience product line for a customer. She needs them the next day. While Peter Schmidt talks to the store employees on the phone, Anmar Al-Jaeibaje checks availability online from the passenger seat. Together they strategise and discuss until they finally get the news they were looking for: the geese can be picked up – the customer is happy. The whole thing took less than half an hour.
Back office and field service collaborating as equal partners
‘The fact that we can offer our customers this type of support is only possible because we work very closely together’, emphasises Al-Jaeibaje. With ‘we’ he is referring to Peter Schmidt and himself. Schmidt, a trained butcher and restaurateur for 23 years, takes his colleague on tour once a month and introduces him to new customers. Once he has familiarised a new customer with METRO’s vast variety of offers and possibilities within a few weeks, he hands them over to Al-Jaeibaje.
Does he ever regret that he no longer supports customers as intensively on his own as before? He admits that he ‘didn’t like it at first’. ‘But Anmar is doing a great job.’ He pats his young colleague on the shoulder as they walk through Flingern, a trendy district of Düsseldorf. This is Peter Schmidt’s assigned district. Thanks to his own experiences, he always interacts with restaurateurs at eye level. Therefore, he considers it the most natural thing in the world to not only provide his customers with fresh products, but also to advise them on the other services and solutions METRO has to offer, such as Gourvenience or the kitchen appliance series Smart & Easy. Strictly speaking, his and Anmar Al-Jaeibaje’s work represents exactly what METRO’s new approach Wholesale 360 stands for.
As part of its focus on the hospitality industry, METRO Deutschland has unrolled large-scale education measures to transform its back office sales force from telemarketers to equal partners of the field sales force. In the same move, the focus of the field sales force’s activities shifted from looking after major, long-standing customers to new customer acquisition and personal on-site support.
‘Our collaboration can be compared to a marriage’Peter Schmidt
Spending most of his time in the Neuss back office and travelling in drizzling rain today, Al-Jaeibaje knows the METRO product range inside out. He knows exactly which co-worker he has to approach to fulfil even the most unique customer wishes, such as chicken drumsticks for the chef of a restaurant that is about to open its doors.
He is also keenly aware of how much the operator of a Japanese restaurant saves when he purchases his salmon from METRO in pre-processed pieces that only need to be portioned for the desired dish.
Just before lunchtime the two colleagues sit down with their new customer Chenghu Zhou in his restaurant DEN and explain all features of the METRO online ordering system.
They also demonstrate the profit margins derived from buying salmon at METRO. The same goes for tuna. ‘How much tuna do you need per week?’ he asks the restaurateur. ‘15 kg?’ – ‘A little less’, he replies. ‘About 10 to 12.’ – Schmidt turns to Al-Jaeibaje: ‘Can we do anything about the price?’ He nods in agreement. Peter Schmidt knows that Anmar Al-Jaeibaje always has his back in the office and works with him to support even more restaurateurs in their daily challenges by delivering customised solutions.
‘Our collaboration can be compared to a marriage’, he says, laughing. ‘We must always be able to rely on each other 100 per cent. We don’t keep any secrets from each other. And when things don’t go as planned, we simply talk about it.
Both customer managers jointly present ‘one face to the customer’
But generally speaking, things are going well between these two very different men. After only a few months working together as a team, they complement each other perfectly. ‘We decide together what we do and how, and which customers we address in a certain period of time’, says Al-Jaeibaje. Both customer managers jointly present ‘one face to the customer’. ‘When I call the customers I see today a week later, the mutual trust between us is already very different than before.’ And when a customer tells them: ‘Here, take a look at my menu and let’s talk about what you can do for me next week’ – they both know that they managed to convince another restaurateur to choose METRO as a partner. They also understand that this success comes with the responsibility to always stay focused on the business success of this restaurateur.