After touring as a bass guitar player with an indie rock band for two-plus years, Nason Frizzell realized it was time for a more steady and stable job.
He interviewed with an Italian food chain and landed a position as a pizza maker. Frizzell then served as a bartender and general manager, prior to being hired by a long-term care company as a dietary supervisor. He moved up the ranks to become executive culinary director and then administrator but realized he missed the foodservice industry. "It's like an addiction; once you start, you can't get away," says Frizzell. "I wanted to see where it took me."
Six years ago, a friend told him about a product consultant opportunity at Central Restaurant Products in Indianapolis, and he hasn't looked back since. Today Frizzell has a diverse book of business that includes chains, independent restaurants with multiple locations, schools and catering companies.
FE&S: When you started with Central you had no sales experience. How did you get up to speed?
NF: Central has a very extensive training program that groomed me to sell in this industry. Throughout my training, I realized that I've been in other types of sales roles as both a server in a restaurant and as a long-term care administrator. For the first two years, I kept my head down and worked 12-hour days. I like to lean on the industry vets when I need to, and I will go the extra mile to find answers. Fortunately, we don't do cold calling here, so the operators I'm contacting are current or former customers that have worked with us before. Even though I joined Central during the recession, my business and the company kept growing.
FE&S: How does your background benefit you in your current career?
NF: I'm able to pull out experiences or explain something in a way a customer can better understand. Also, because I worked on the institutional side with long-term care, I have a better-rounded base of knowledge. I can speak the lingo better.
FE&S: Unlike other dealer sales people, you don't see your customers face to face very often. How do you build relationships with them?
NF: What sets me apart is that I do what I say I will and live up to my promises and obligations. This is not a 24/7 job, but it also isn't a 9-to-5 business. It's important to be available when my customers need me. I will visit customers if they need me to be there.
FE&S: You are known for taking a consultative approach to selling. Describe your philosophy.
NF: I look at my customer base and can pull similar things out of them. For instance, I talk to those in power who can make decisions. I also equip customers with information and knowledge so they can more easily make decisions. It's a team effort.
FE&S: When something does not go right with an order or a project, how do you resolve it?
NF: I have to be able to ask questions to find a solution. It's about seeking first to understand before being understood, so I listen before jumping in with my viewpoint. This helps build trust. I also make sure the issue is resolved as quickly as possible. Service agents and reps are part of my team when it comes to selling and resolving problems.