Todd Lough—Director of MKM’s Store Delivery in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—works to keep his customers at ease, assuring them their product will arrive exactly when planned so they don’t have to worry about that part of their business. They shouldn’t have to worry about distribution. By collaborating with the upper management of his clients, as well as their store managers, he’s able to oversee the entire process, from shipment to delivery. That’s why he encourages prospective customers to tour his site and to see the equipment and processes, so they can have full confidence in MKM’s ability.
Since he started three and a half years ago, he’s doubled MKM’s clients in the area, now distributing to 300 stores each week.
Lough said that the benefit of working with MKM over larger distributors is that MKM can deliver to stores at the exact time they request—and they can facilitate individual needs.
“The key to me is to bring them [into the warehouse] and show them. While we’re running, they can see what we do, have all those processes in place and the capability to do it—and that makes them feel comfortable,” Lough said.
From day one, he wants to demonstrate to the customers the level of care they take with each delivery, each shipment.
“Your first day [with a new customer] has to be picture perfect.”
And he continues to follow up with customers. Initially, Lough works with the upper management of a potential customer to ensure that MKM has the capability to meet their distribution needs. They have to trust him first. “But what about the store?” Lough continued. “The store doesn’t get involved until my driver shows up.” At that point, he has to earn the trust of the store. That’s the key to a successful relationship, he said. Lough ensures his trucks run on time, drivers are professional, and they make the store manager feel at ease.
“For all my new stores, I send a letter with my personal email, phone numbers, so if they have any questions they can talk to me directly—24 hours a day if need be.”
And to ensure his drivers are getting where they need to go, he’ll often send out two drivers at once in the same truck—for that first delivery—just to ensure that they don’t get lost and that the managers at the store feel well taken care of.
Even if a new customer needs to start immediately, Lough ensures that all their distribution needs can be met seamlessly, in a very short amount of time.
“I don’t deal with the upper management everyday, but I do interact with the stores, so that store manager needs to feel comfortable day-to-day, right from the start,” Lough said.
And that’s why accountability is important. “The very next day after our first day, I call all the managers, asking them: were there any complaints, were there any problems, were there any concerns? I don’t wait a week, two weeks—because if there’s a problem now I want to address it now,” Lough said.
There’s a constant line of communication between the customer and Lough, whether phone calls or emails, requests to know how many containers they’re receiving or if anything has changed on their end. Lough makes sure stores know that they can request special needs that might arise at delivery—trash needs to be taken out, product needs to be moved, anything. He’s there to relieve them of the stress that might come with changes, and wants them to be as knowledgeable and informed as they can be.
“Bottom line: You’re going to be comfortable, you’re going to go home at night knowing that your deliveries will be on time, your cartons are going to get there, the product you wanted in your store that day is going to be there.”
Lough’s focus is at the store level. That’s where he’s going to see results. That’s where he’s going to make sure that, day by day, the product will be on the shelves, and the customer will be happy, no matter what.