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Thatch

How do you sell your spirits?

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Hi all,

We are just starting up in Ohio.  Ohio allows little guys to do sales and self distribution.  Any comments you might have on how/when to approach a bar owner/manager or liquor store owner/manager would be greatly appreciated.  I’m looking for do’s and don’ts.

Cheers

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Hello Thatch,

my 2c:

although in a completely different country (NL) I face the exact same issue over here. Am allowed to sell to bars, restaurants and liquor stores. The two main things I've learned in the last year are:

- a. only go after companies that sell drinks in your price bracket (in my case 55 USD a bottle average retail price; so that's Michelin starred restaurants and specialty liquor stores) and

- b. try to find some "ambassadors" who can introduce you (in my case several well-known chefs and a sommelier who worked at ** starred restaurants)

Once you meet people immediately become friends with them on LinkedIn and FaceBook so once people look you up they see you know many of their colleagues.

One more thing: try to find out what the typical markup is, so ask someone you know in a liquor store or a bar/restaurant (different) for the formula they use to go from purchase price to sales price for a bottle or a glass.

Paul.

 

 

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Thanks Paul,

Seems like good advice in any country.

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Go early in the week and during off times.  See if you can set up an appointment with the buyer/beverage manager/etc even if you have personal or professional connections with them. Be prepared to do a tasting at each place and have all of your "ducks in a row".  This means drink(pour)- bottle- and case costs, any promotional material (sell sheet) or support you have, qty discounts, and ask when they prefer deliveries and try to be in the window when you do the deliveries.  Don't hound them but you should expect to need to keep on them since all the other reps are doing the same for their brands.  Take PaulNL's advice - it's right on target. 

[edit: also, don't forget that you'll still need to do and have all of these things when you sign with a distributor too]

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Thanks nabtastic,

I appreciate you taking the time to write.  Sounds like great advice which I will use.

 

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Off-time is generally the time after lunch service but before dinner service, it's a pretty narrow window usually, in my parts about 2-3, maybe a little wider.

Before lunch service, you generally miss the beverage manager, don't even attempt coming in during service as you'll be ignored, and things are generally pretty busy leading up to dinner service starting, 4-5.  You tend to have a little bit more leeway if it's a restaurant that doesn't open for lunch.  Weekends are usually always off the table.

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Thanks Silk,

You, Paul and Nabtastic have given me a great outline to follow.

Cheers!

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