Edmonton Valve Merchandisers Don’t Just Deliver Product
by Taryn Hardes, on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 13:06 PM
As this role has evolved, our merchandisers have become a vital part of our business.
Our merchandisers are on the road to help service customer inventories. For more information on these services, Ask Us.
In the last few years, a new role has emerged at Edmonton Valve and Fitting. To our customers, it might not have been a noticeable change, but internally, it’s been a huge improvement for processes and time management. This new role is the merchandiser position, and it’s filled by three associates, one at each branch.
Back in 2001, when we began to expand our service offerings, one major service we implemented was Vendor Managed Inventories (VMI). This service was implemented to help leverage the automated business systems many of our customers use for order production and inventory management. We would receive the replenishment order from the customers’ automated systems and then the account manager would fill the inventory for the customers on a regular or semi-regular basis, depending on the customer’s needs.
As VMI and Consignment Inventories continued to become more popular and more highly demanded, we started to see the potential for some new roles to provide this service. We implemented a Mobile Truck Service fleet, which included two 5-ton mobile stores and three 1-ton merchandising trucks. Over time, having our account managers monitor and maintain the numerous inventories became time-consuming and labour-intensive. Today we have three merchandisers servicing customer inventories, which allows our account managers to focus their time and energy on technical assistance and sales calls.
In 2013, we hired Jason MacDonald for our Edmonton office and Steve Mugridge for our Drayton Valley office. Jon Besa, our Fort McMurray merchandiser, was previously a customer service associate and he began to transition into the merchandiser role. All three merchandisers were trained in basic warehouse and basic customer service skills. Since they’re out on the road, interacting with customers on a regular basis, they all needed a certain level of familiarity with the products. If customers require enhanced technical advice, the merchandisers can always refer the customer to the appropriate account manager.
The merchandiser role has become a vital position that fills the gap between our mobile inventory truck drivers and our account managers. (Click here for more information on our Mobile Inventory Truck offerings.) Our merchandisers drive 1-ton trucks that can get into gas plants and other smaller sites that our large 5-ton trucks can’t access. They also provide service to customers whose orders don’t justify the vast amount of inventory available on the 5-ton trucks. The position is meant to provide regular stock fills and inventory management, and it’s not intended for on-call delivery. Occasionally each driver will provide order drop off if it works nicely into their set schedule – all in the name of the best possible customer service.
The merchandiser role is a valuable way to develop relationships with customers. Besa says that the role has enabled him to build valuable face-to-face relationships with the customers he services. This relationship gives him the opportunity to get feedback on Fort McMurray Valve’s services as a whole, as well as the VMI and consignment services. In Edmonton, MacDonald says the number one benefit of the service is establishing a comfortable level of trust between us and our customers.
“They like to know that we care about them and we know what they need and when they need the product. And I like to be able to get to know them and follow up on a regular basis.”
The customers love the service. In Drayton Valley, Mugridge recently re-labelled, organized, and cross-referenced a customer’s inventory, which has made a huge difference in ease of use for both the customer and himself. When asked about success in the position, Mugridge laughs.
“I once sold tubing to a customer at a gas station. They saw the truck and came running on over.” Nothing like bringing the product to where the customer is!
With the innovative way that this service has developed, we still want to continue to grow this customer-focused service. Interested in utilizing our vendor managed inventory services? Contact your sales and service representative to find out if you’re a suitable candidate or, ask us here.