DSR of the Month

Profiling the industry’s most accomplished foodservice equipment and supplies dealer sales reps. Only one will go on to be named DSR of the Year.


Linda Tell Shares What's Exciting her About the Foodservice Industry Today

Linda Tell, The Sam Tell Companies

DSR Linda TellThe foodservice industry remains a business segment that rewards old-fashioned hard work and dedication. Such is the case with Linda Tell, a sales representative with The Sam Tell Companies, a Farmingdale, N.Y.-based dealership. The fact that Marc Tell, Linda’s father, leads the business made her reluctant to initially pursue a career with the company. Instead, she started her career in advertising, looking at clients’ target demographics, products and budgets before working with a team to build messaging. It’s a skill set that has served Linda well since joining The Sam Tell Companies in 2017. Her growing book of business includes independent restaurant operators and some restaurant groups.

Q: How do you leverage your advertising experience to support your current customers?

A: The agency I worked with trained me to be very results driven. A lot of my job was reporting. If we ran a campaign, we had to prove it was successful. I use those reporting skills to track orders and manage logistics. The skill set I built in advertising helps me add value to my customers.

Q: You learned the industry from the ground up. What was that learning process like?

A: VP of sales Heather Kogan put together a really thorough training program when she hired a new cohort of sales reps. We met with our manufacturer partners and learned about their products and how we would work with them. And over two weeks, we had a foodservice supply boot camp, which was really helpful. From there, we just had to do it. I had to do a lot of cold calling and have a lot of conversations where I would have to say, “I will have to get back to you.” We got started right away selling and making mistakes and calling manufacturers for answers. That all happened until I knew what I was doing.

Q: Tabletop and smallwares are specialty areas of yours. What goes into developing a good tabletop?

A: Everyone is different, and everyone has different tastes. I don’t want to be an order taker. I want to be more of a consultant. When someone wants us to make a proposal, I ask a lot of questions. I ask about the number of seats and volume. I ask about the look and feel of the restaurant. I ask if they want white china. And, of course, I ask about budget. When possible, I like to take them to a showroom and even send them physical samples. Receiving the samples allows the chef to plate menu items to see what it looks like in the restaurant.

Q: What excites you most about the industry?

A: People are engaged with restaurants in a way they have not been before. It’s a time where people have social media accounts dedicated to restaurants. Celebrity chefs bring in clientele simply because of their reputations. But because I started in this business young, I have the chance to make relationships with up-and-coming chefs and develop long-term relationships with them. We will be able to grow together. I am starting to get calls from chefs that worked with me on past jobs, and it’s because they like my service. I think things are really starting to get good.

Q: Complete this thought: In ten years, I hope to …

A: Be a part of ushering in a new era for the industry. I really like what I do in sales and am definitely leaning on my strengths. I have so many ideas and am starting to lean on my advertising background to pitch in with our marketing efforts. In ten years, I hope to have a much bigger impact on the industry and help bring it into the 21st century. So in ten years, I hope to see more women in the industry. And if I can inspire more women to join the industry, that would be amazing.