Forman worked in the real estate industry at a relocation company, before joining Boston Showcase in 1993. "At the time, I didn't know a knife from a fork," Forman says. "But on my first sales call at a nursing home, I sold $3,000 worth of linens."
Today, his client roster consists of about 75 percent healthcare foodservice operators, many of whom have been with Forman since the beginning of his career with the company. Known as a jack of all trades in terms of equipment, smallwares and design, he is very passionate about the business and has become friends with many of his customers.
FE&S: How have your past experiences contributed to your success as a DSR?
SF: My entire career has been about dealing with people and making them comfortable doing business with me. It's about selling your ability and taking care of people. It's not just about money. I've reached a point where I don't need to go on cold calls to acquire more customers, because I'm receiving non-stop referrals from current clients.
FE&S: You're known for being able to focus on one customer at a time in a business notorious for multitasking. What's your secret?
SF: My customers have my undivided attention. I leave my phone in the car when I go on a sales call. I make a point of getting issues solved within 48 hours. Everyone makes mistakes, but in this business, they can be very costly. That's why I try to avoid errors at all costs.
FE&S: What aspect of your career makes you most proud?
SF: Working with nonprofit organizations [as customers] makes me the most proud. It's the warmest feeling to know that, even though I may not have made as much money as with other jobs, I'm able to give back. I try to give back as much as I can. I've found you get back 100 fold for everything you give.
FE&S: What fuels your passion for this business?
SF: After leaving the relocation company, I realized that I don't like working a nine-to-five job in an office. When I joined Boston Showcase, I immediately loved it. Every day is different. Even when I was sick and in the hospital I kept in touch with customers.
I learned about the product lines, including which are better, those that offer more functionality and equipment that offers more bang for the buck. I learned not to oversell or undersell a product. I do business with several manufacturers, which gives me more leverage. If I have a problem, my reps will cover me because I'm dedicated to them, and we work closely together.
FE&S: You've battled some health issues over the years. How has that affected your customer relationships?
SF: When I was in the hospital, my customers would call the office and place an order without asking about price. I've been told I have the most loyal customer base, and this is because I treat them like gold. If I can help customers out, it's one less problem they have in the kitchen. I make sure customers don't buy something they don't need and that what they purchase works for them.
FE&S: What's the most important lesson you've learned over the course of your career?