A lot of useful knowledge can be gained from working both sides of the fence. Proof in point is Jeff Enda, who spent seven years in corporate dining for a managed services company before joining M. Tucker as a sales rep eight years ago.
He set out with his sights on the foodservice industry, graduating from Johnson & Wales with a degree in hotel and restaurant management.
During his stint in corporate dining, Enda was a customer of M. Tucker. He then decided to switch his focus to more expansive opportunities within the industry. “I haven’t looked back since changing careers,” he says. Enda now resides in New York City with his wife Lisa and two-year-old son Sebastian.
His diversified client base consists of independents, business and industry, colleges and hotels. Enda is known for having excellent product knowledge and an even approach to challenging situations.
FE&S: How did your experience as an operator prepare you to become a dealer sales rep?
JE: People know that I can relate to the obstacles they face. I have a better understanding of their businesses and day-to-day operations. There’s a lot of value for my customers with me having been in their shoes. They know I’ve worked with and purchased the products myself, so I have confidence and stand behind my recommendations.
FE&S: You work in a very competitive market. How do you maintain your edge?
JE: I accomplish this by constantly educating myself on what’s going on in the industry and marketplace, including new product development and the current challenges customers face. In addition, our company leverages technology to helps us to streamline the process and, in turn, this greatly benefits my customers.
FE&S: What is the most important lesson you've learned as a professional?
JE: I’ve learned that relationships are everything; they are critical to the business. In terms of networking with customers, it is important to develop a strong relationship with them and build their trust. I do my best to provide them with excellent service so they see value in working with me and my organization.
FE&S: What's the key to successfully managing a project from start to finish?
JE: Communication and patience are crucial, as is having a constant dialogue with clients and maintaining a strong commitment to customer satisfaction.
FE&S: How do you handle adversity when it comes up within a project?
JE: I remain as professional as possible, deal with the obstacles, find ways to work around them and get things done. When there is an issue, it’s important to hit it head on and not skirt around it.
FE&S: What steps have you taken to better weather the current business climate?
JE: I am constantly talking with customers, making sure that they have the best deal on the table. I also work with them to offer cost effective solutions for the challenges they face, without compromising the quality of service they provide to their own guests. It all boils down to having solid relationships, providing high-quality service and letting customers know you’re flexible and there for them in any situation.
FE&S: What tools, materials and resources are invaluable to you in your line of work?
JE: Definitely my laptop and Blackberry are important tools, as is all of the new systems technology the company has put in place over the last couple of years. These technologies provide us with incredible amounts of information at our fingertips. Technology is essential in working with customers and conducting business effectively and efficiently. Customers appreciate receiving information in real time. It is a necessity. Plus, we do a lot with online ordering, which is a win-win for everyone.
FE&S: What attributes make you unique in your field?
JE: My education and prior work experience in managed services make me a well informed and diversified player. I have a lot of valuable knowledge, tools and experience. Since joining M.Tucker, I have invested even more time in expanding my product knowledge base and learning to utilize newer technologies. I pride myself on offering a high level of customer service and believe that solid communication with customers is key.
FE&S: What advice would you give someone starting out in this business?
JE: New DSRs need to get educated as much as possible in terms of industry trends, equipment usage and technology. I love the industry because it’s fast paced, ever-changing and focused on food, people and relationships.