Jake Landers, TriMark South
Sometimes people take a job to make some pocket money or even to pay for school and find out not only do they like the business but that they are good at it. And before long, that job becomes their career. Such is the case with Jake Landers, director of sales for national accounts, for TriMark South in Duluth, Ga.
While pursuing a business degree in college, Landers took a job with a fast-casual restaurant chain that sold burgers and wings. He started working in the front of the house and before long moved up to general manager and district manager before eventually becoming a consultant. Over the years, Landers dealt with TriMark as a customer, and when it came time to try his hand at sales, he knew where he wanted to go.
“The biggest thing was the size and customer service of TriMark. They were the leading foodservice equipment and supplies dealer,” Landers says. “They were always good with me, my staff and more. So, sales with that company seemed natural to me.”
Here, Landers discusses what he likes about the restaurant industry as well as how to overcome supply chain issues and other challenges that may arise during the course of a project.
Q: What keeps you in the restaurant industry?
A: My customers. When you have been in it this long, you accumulate a book of business. They can go buy an ice machine anywhere, so I want to continue to earn my customers’ loyalty and trust. The utmost respect you can gain in this business is your customers’ loyalty. It motivates me to keep it going and continuing to improve to be my very best. You always want to grow and expand. I am never content. That is when you start losing your edge and stop being what your customers are looking for.
Q: Your expertise lies in equipment, millwork, and furniture — providing turnkey solutions for your customers. In your own words, what does turnkey mean?
A: I am able to provide something that nobody else can — a full package that includes equipment, millwork, furniture smallwares and installation. And when we walk out of that space, the customer is satisfied and ready to open their restaurant. We have set them up for success so that customer can pursue their dream.
Q: Problems are just part of the job. Sometimes a piece of equipment will show up dented or the project has a compressed timeline. Regardless of the issue, what is your approach to problem solving?
A: The biggest issue is how you respond. For all my customers, if you show a sense of urgency and overcommunicate, the issue does not go away but everyone involved is aware and working toward a common goal. We are normally one of the last vendors on a job and deadlines are quickly approaching. So, time is of the essence to get the problem solved by putting the right solution in place. We prefer to never have something go wrong but we know this is just the nature of the beast and our commitment to the customer is to get it corrected.
Q: There have been countless supply chain challenges over the past year or so. What is the key to successfully navigating them?
A: We have to overcommunicate with the customer. We have to be up front in communicating lead times. When we cannot get something, we have to offer alternatives. We have to show that we know what they are trying to do and offer a plan of action. If you go to them with the problem and a potential solution, customers are willing to work with you. So come to the table with solutions rather than problems.