Stephen Yeung, Action Sales
Action Sales and suggested Yeung consider a role with the California-based foodservice equipment and supplies dealer. Yeung took that advice and has never looked back. Now, some 16 years later, his client base as salesperson, Special Accounts Group, includes several high-profile restaurant chains as well as some healthcare and school foodservice operators. Here, Yeung reflects on what he’s learned over the years, the impact of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry and more.Back in 2004, Stephen Yeung was working in the computer industry when a downturn in that segment prompted him to look for new career opportunities. A family member was working at
Q: How do your previous work experiences contribute to your success today?
A: I worked at a hotel as a bellhop and front desk person. Then, I moved to the computer industry, selling component parts such as memory and hard drives. Back then I did a lot of cold calling and learned that constant contact is a key. People will easily forget you if you do not stay in contact with them.
Q: You work with a variety of chain restaurants. What is something independents and noncommercial operators can learn from larger operators like chains?
A: We are not just buying and selling products. If an operator’s purchasing department is looking for something, I am not just going to simply quote them a model number and a price. I try to understand the project, what they are trying to accomplish and help them meet their goals — and maybe even save money. A few months ago, for example, I was working with a college that wants to convert a space into a grab-and-go area. The operator shared a plan and a list of equipment. But I came over to review the job site to ensure the project has the infrastructure it needs to be successful. This includes proper electricity, necessary floor drains, etc. These steps make the process more personal and allow us to build trust. And we have to spend that kind of time with chains to build that trust, too.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a dealer salesperson?
A: The learning never ends in the foodservice industry. Every quarter and every year, there’s new technology and concepts hitting the market. We can’t just sit in the conference room to learn about all of this. We need to get out and explore. For me, I have to keep asking questions, write down the answers and keep reviewing that information. It’s important to understand market trends, too. Plus, relationships with the factory and manufacturers’ reps are really important. They provide us with the information we need and the support necessary to get the job done.
Q: How has the way you work with customers changed as a result of the pandemic?
A: The pandemic has really hurt everyone. Right now, every customer has budget issues. There’s also a lot of new items on the market due to COVID. We need to let our customers know we have these items and can supply them with those essentials. I try to stay connected to customers via email, but understanding these are unique times, it’s important not to flood their in-boxes, too. It’s a balance trying to show compassion and letting them know we are there to support their needs.