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The Illusion of Friday Sales for Monday Delivery Problems

In my travels around the country I find that about 70% - 80% of the distributors have a difficult time with Friday sales for Monday delivery.  In the other 20% - 30%, they have no problem and can’t understand why there would be one.  Therefore I know it can be done. In fact if we go back to driver-sell days, most driver-sales reps never had any problems with Mondays being light, or for that matter with balancing work-loads throughout the week.  Why?  Because the driver-sales reps MANAGED their accounts since they were the ones physically doing the job.  It can be done and it has been done. 

In many (most?) situations, the problem is one of our own creation where over time we have set the retailer’s and our employee’s expectations, and unfortunately this does not include strong Friday sales (mainly due to a very light sales account load on Friday).

But the entire issue of a Friday for Monday “problem” is an illusion.  Here is an example:

1.                  Assume a once per week account sold on Tuesday and delivered on Wednesday.  When the sales rep generates the order, they have to forecast sales for the remainder of Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  Notice their forecasting includes a weekend.  It must. This is of course a reality since in any consecutive 7 day period, regardless of which day of the week you begin with, there must be a weekend somewhere - clever reasoning, eh? ;-).

2.                  Assume a once per week account sold on Friday and delivered on Monday.  Here the sales rep has to forecast sales for the remainder of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Once again there is a weekend included.  It happens to fall between the sale and delivery but other than that (which really has no meaning other than it is “different”), there is absolutely no difference between the two situations.  None.  The sales forecasting process is exactly the same. 

a.       But what if the weather over the weekend is bad?  In both situations the forecast includes a weekend.  What’s the difference?

b.      What if I order too much and don’t need the product?  What would the retailer do now?  Probably cut the order on delivery.  And what would they do in a Friday for Monday situation?  Probably the same… so what’s changed?

c.       What if I don’t order enough and need additional product?  What would the retailer do now?  Probably call and request product.  And what would they do in a Friday for Monday situation?  Probably the same… so what’s changed?

d.      For 2X per week service the same holds true. 

e.       There is only one issue with Friday for Monday (and it is the same for all early week deliveries) and that is inventory.  Some retailers would rather have their orders later in the week so they sell it closer to time of delivery (assuming most of their sales occur late in the week and over the weekend).  But obviously we can’t deliver every account in our territory at 10:00 am on Friday.   At its most extreme, some retailers would prefer just-in-time order replenishment… they sell a case and we immediately deliver another.  Remember that the difference between a Friday delivery and a Monday delivery is 3 days.  And it not as though every single week they have to “pay” for these three days – it occurs once and then it is exactly the same.  It is like taking the slack out of a rope, you only can do it once.  And in this example, the “slack” is 3 days, one time.  Not a big deal.  The financing costs of 3 days of inventory (one time) is measured in the pennies (if that much).

f.        In these examples I assume a 24-hour pre-sell operation.  There are plenty of wholesalers who operated on 48-hour systems, and they can “some how” adequately forecast sales and get retailers to agree.

3.                  The solution to these issues:

a.       If the sales rep properly uses their route book, they will always write good orders.  This is the solution to almost all sales issues.  Be the retailer’s beer consultant.  MANAGE the account.  If you use your route book you know absolutely everything that is happening to your brands in the account.

b.      The sales reps must believe.  If they don’t believe in Friday for Monday, I can guarantee you the retailers won’t.  If they believe AND execute, there will seldom if ever be problems.  This is told to me in those 30% of the distributors who have absolutely no problem with this issue.

c.       It is worth fighting for… in a five day work week, each day represents 20% of the week.  By “giving up” Mondays, we increase our delivery and sales personal and equipment needs by up to 20%!  And impact the warehouse as well.  As an example, assume we have 40 sales reps and 40 delivery routes but little or no business on Monday.  By working to make Monday a “regular” delivery day, we can reduce both work forces by 8 employees each!  A savings of over 16 people and all their associated expenses.  Give your drivers a raise, increase the overall quality of your work-force, and still drive substantial savings to the bottom-line... but work to make Mondays a regular day.  Your problems may be real, but they are founded on an illusion.

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