You’re a manufacturer’s rep, and you’re one of many that make sales calls on multiple locations every single day to get your product line in that location… How do you get noticed and stand out from hundreds of other reps that call on the same locations with a competitive line…
On this week’s Relationship Marketing Weekly, I interview Outside Manufacturer Sales Rep John Endries. John explains how through a cost-effective relationship marketing strategy, and thinking outside the box, it gives him an extremely competitive edge and helps him stand out in a very competitive marketing place.
Kody Bateman: Hey everybody. This is Kody Bateman, coming from Salt Lake City, Utah. Welcome to our weekly Relationship Marketing Show. We have a very, very, special guest on our show today. I’m really super excited about our guest today because he’s in the type of business that I just love. He’s in the motorcycle accessories business. So he calls on motorcycle dealerships, primarily coming out of Tampa, Florida. His company’s name is Superior Powersports Services. Please welcome to our show Mr. John Endries. John, are you with us?
John Endries: Hey, Kody. I’m here. Good to see you again.
Kody: Yeah, it’s great to see you. It looks like you’re out in your vehicle there, which is pretty cool. So you’re literally out today calling on dealerships and tell us a little bit about what you’re sitting in there. You’ve mentioned before that’s kind of like your sample truck. So just share with us a little bit about what your daily routine is and show us your truck because there’s cool stuff in there.
John: All right. Yeah, no. Yeah, I’m coming live from a parking lot here right now in my Sprinter van. So I’ve got a Sprinter I use for my road travels. I run a four-week schedule and I run a very tight schedule. Every week, I run pretty much the same route, different areas. It could be Tampa. It could be Orlando. It could be Miami. But everybody knows ahead of time when I’m coming. I carry a great supply of samples.
We talked about my sprinter van. I mean I don’t know what you’re going to be able to see in here but there’s audio. There’s helmets. There’s all kinds of stuff in here. So I mean it’s an old FedEx Sprinter van. So a lot of samples in here.
I make my sales calls anywhere from three to six a day, depending on what day I got going on and yeah, it’s kind of what I do.
Kody: Now I noticed one of the main products that you rep is sitting right there on your steering wheel.
John: It is.
Kody: Can you show us? Yeah, like so when you go into a dealership, this is one of the lines, the LS2 helmet, right?
Kody: You have the LS2 helmet. What are some of your other top line brands that you – that you rep?
John: The LS2 is my top line. It has a line of helmets. It’s a full line of helmets for everybody, for all aspects of the motor sports industry. Leatt products. Leatt is a protective company. They got started with neck braces but they also do all kinds of protective gear. MTX Audio, we do audio systems for the side by side UTVs. They’re doing very well. CITY Boots, you know, footwear, protective wear. Oxford Products which is a company out of the UK. They opened up distribution here in Jacksonville about six years ago. Pit Posse which is an off road apparel – or excuse me, bolt-on products company and Olympia Gloves. So I do a glove line as well.
Kody: So you do – to get started, I know you have – you probably have a list of clientele you call on a regular basis. But to get started, you got to do some cold calling. You got to get to know – you got to get inside the door and get past the gatekeepers and stuff. So you’re full on salesperson every single day and I’m sure – what kind of obstacles do you run into? Because when I see this stuff, hey, come see me. I want to buy everything in your truck because I love that stuff. But obviously you’re going to dealerships that are buying it wholesale. They’re selling it retail. They want to make a profit.
Kody: How do you overcome some of the obstacles of getting in the door with these guys?
John: That is a big challenge, especially if I go back to six years ago when I started my company. I was a little – I thought a lot of myself I guess. I got 25 years of experience in the industry. But I’m starting new in Florida. So I’m starting here in Florida with a brand new company with no website. I’m the new guy walking in off the street. Nobody had a clue who I was and it took a better part of the year to really get things going and that’s being consistent. You know, showing up all the time when you say you’re going to be there.
So nowadays with emails, I guess send out an email a week in advance. At least let them know I’m coming. So it’s not, “Hey, I just walked through the door. Can you see me?” They get a little heads up. They know I’m coming. It still may be a very short call. It might be five minutes because we’re still trying to get going. But as the dealers start buying more from me, I got some guys that takes me four hours to do a sales call. I mean it’s just because we’re going through inventory. We’re showing the new stuff and the programs. So yeah, it’s a process. I’ve been doing this for a long time.
Kody: So you told me a story earlier about – you were calling on a Harley Davidson dealership. This is a new account for you and you’re trying to get in the door and you did something. Can you share with us what you did that kind of break the ice there?
John: I thought – I need to do something and so I made some custom cards. I went on to Facebook and I grabbed every dealer’s logo. So I dropped the logo on the front and then just put some pictures on the top helmets that are – that we sell from LS2 and just a personalized card to the motorcycle managers, talking to them. Hey, I would really like a short meeting, show you how LS2 can make you more money and bigger marginal line which I’m currently carrying. It’s actually manufactured by the same people that make the Harley Davidson helmets and I sent that one brownies.
So when you do brownies, you get tracking. So you know when they’re delivered and so when I start making the sales calls afterwards, the first place I went to, again it’s still a cold call. But I walked in and the lady who I really need to see wasn’t there.
So to the other lady, I said, “Oh, shoot. I sent her something last week.” She goes, “You’re the one who sent the brownies?” I’m like, “Yeah, I was. I was the one who sent the brownies.” So it became more of a warm call at least. We started talking at least. It kind of opened the door. So from that perspective, it was pretty cool.
Kody: So the power of the brownies, right? It’s amazing. The doors that a nice little gourmet food, gift item will do for people. That’s that tangible touch. Great story. I love that story. Now you’re in the door with them. You’re a big believer of greeting cards. I mean you’ve been a thank-you card guy for a long, long time. Tell us how all that started.
John: I started in the industry a little over 30 years ago. I was in my early 20s and it’s just one of those things that just made sense. So – and this was back in the old day where you literally got to go out and buy a card. I got everybody’s birthdays. So I knew when it was and you got to handwrite everything out. We’re talking old school back in the 80s and I sent off cards for the holidays. I sent them off for their birthdays. So I’ve done it 30 years ago. But I kind of – it was a pain. Once things changed, I went to a different job. So I didn’t – I wasn’t an independent rep anymore.
So I just stopped doing it. But so suddenly this came – the situation arose this year. I’m in July and I’m looking at my skis and going, “Things just aren’t happening,” and I started thinking back what I did 30 years ago. What did I do? And I remember the cards and it just so happens that I’ve been following Darla DiGrandi on Facebook and she and her in some exotic place. I’m like, “What’s going on?” I tapped on that and I’m like going, “Hmm.” I messaged her on Facebook. I said we need to talk and that’s kind of what really got me started back again with SendOutCards.
Kody: Well, I’m glad you brought up Darla. Darla DiGrandi is one of our relationship marketing specialists that we have here at SendOutCards. We have thousands of specialists around the world. She’s one of our best and it’s great. She – you got a contact with her. She got with you. As a relationship marketing specialist, she helped you set up an account and trained you and coached you on how to send out cards and campaigns of cards and one of the first things that you did is you sent out 80 appreciation cards to your current customer base and I know Darla helped you get started with that.
Kody: Tell us about that because it’s a great story.
John: So I get with Darla and so she has helped me with the backend, helped me set up the backside of my cards, so it looks all personalized and of course I’m not as computer savvy as a lot of people are. So she helped me out a lot. Plus I had to actually go in and type in everybody’s name and addresses. I didn’t have – I still don’t know how to transfer stuff from one to another. So I do it the old school way. I’m typing stuff in. So I typed in 80 names and addresses. I then went on to Facebook.
So here’s the card. This is the Facebook thank you card. I went on to Facebook and every individual dealer went and grabbed their logo off of Facebook, dropped it on the top of the card and then the bottom and the inside was just very basic. It says, “Dear Ellen . I just want to thank you so much for your business. It is greatly appreciated,” and sign at the bottom. I mean that’s – that was my first card and sent those with brownies.
Kody: So every one of those 80 got a box of brownies with them as well.
John: They did.
Kody: You mentioned that since then, you’ve been kind of inundated with calls and emails and stuff. So worth the investment and worth – of time and money I guess.
John: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
Kody: So I know a lot of listeners may say, “Wow, you did 80 individual cards, meaning that you went and customized each one with a separate logo on each of the 80 cards.” How much time did it take you? Darla helped you. But how much time do you think it took you to do all that?
John: Not counting the typing in all their names and addresses because I’m not the fastest guy out there typing. I’m the two-finger guy and practically about two to three hours. It wasn’t that long.
Kody: So two to three hours turns into your phone ringing off the hook for emails coming in, your inbox being full. Would you rather spend two to three hours doing that or two to three hours making cold calls trying to get your phone to ring?
John: Yeah, exactly, no.
John: That’s a no-brainer Kody.
Kody: Right, exactly. So that’s what we try to teach the world is that’s the power of relationship marketing and being able to reach out to people in kindness. Not really asking for much in return. Just you’re reaching out and sharing appreciation, which is what those 80 cards did for you and got you immediate results.
Now you also do a – once per month, you send a gratitude card out to existing customers. So every single month, you do something, the VIP list of people. Could you share a couple of those with us?
John: Well, it’s very obvious when you get to the end of the year, you got Thanksgiving. So it was just really – you just do a real quick – you know, giving thanks and again just the inside had your initial. It was a stock card but then I wrote something else extra on it and it was just saying, “It’s not only my family and friends and loved ones that I’m grateful for. I’m also grateful for my customers because they’re the ones that provide me with the opportunity to create my living. Thank you once again and may you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday season.” So just some very basic thank-you cards, not asking for anything in return. Just love you guys.
That was Thanksgiving and then Christmas, people that get to know me, they know my personality. Man, I like to have a little fun. So here’s a little Christmas group therapy that was on the front of the Christmas card. Then on the inside, you had another one. There was a little Santa Claus with a flat and just a real basic thank-you card saying, “Hey, as I reflect upon this year to where we are today, I realize how truly blessed I am because of people like you. I want to say thank you and wish your family a merry Christmas and happy New Year. Here’s to an amazing 2018.”
Kody: Wow! Incredible. So once a month, you take opportunity to send that out to a list of people and I’m sure that list keeps growing as new customers come onboard. The power of the tangible touch. You know, that’s what we talk about a lot. You’ve always been a believer in that and then Darla came along and helped you get started with the system. That makes it really easy for you to do this.
Now you told me a heartfelt story about sending a card to your dad. I want you to – I want to close the meeting today by having you share that. But prior to you doing that, I just want people to understand. You know, it’s really important that – obviously this is called Relationship Marketing Weekly. We’re talking about relationship marketing principles and how it can help you grow your business. You are in the motorcycle accessory business. You call on dealerships.
You’ve shared with us in less than 10 minutes some phenomenal ways to get the door open, to follow up with certain customers, to get repeat referral business from them, the power of the brownies. I mean you have given us a wealth. I mean anybody calling on dealerships, selling anything with dealerships just got a $1000 seminar today in the seven or eight minutes that you shared with us. That’s how powerful what you’re doing is for other people. So we want to thank you for that.
John: Thank you Kody.
Kody: But more important than all of that is the heart of what you do. It’s the – it’s one thing to just send cards out to people as part of your business practice. It’s another thing to send cards out to people because you care about them, because you’re trying to create a genuine connection, trying to be more kind to people, trying to bring people together and improve relationships.
I think it’s the most appropriate story to end with is the story that you told me about your dad and how you sent a card to him. Could you share that with us in closing?
John: Sure. I, like a lot of people through the years – my parents divorced when I was 17. Got along great with both parents and there’s no problem with either one. My dad was not one of the most emotional people out there. So I haven’t really sent him much more than just humorous cards over the years. You know, Christmas and birthdays and stuff like that.
We’re getting into SendOutCards and really – and I’m going to again thank Darla because she just – she keeps bringing up the fact about it’s the heart and that hit home. So the first card was for my dad. The best father in the world. I downloaded pictures. Here’s a picture of my dad and his new wife of 25 years. They’re on vacation in the UK and I’m going to read you what I said to my dad.
“So dad and Oki , there comes a point in everyone’s life when you start to really appreciate your family, especially your father and I ask myself, ‘Wow, when was the last time I really sent a heartfelt I love you dad?’ Oki, thank you for becoming a very special part in my dad’s life and feeding me until I explode with your incredible cooking every time I come to California. I love you both.”
I sent that to my dad with some brownies and as we all know, with brownies, you get tracking. So at least you know when he’s going to get it. He had it for about two – it was either two or three days when my dad calls me up. It was the most emotional I’ve ever heard my dad ever in the 54 years I’ve been on this earth and if that’s what I got out of all of this, it was worth it.
Kody: Wow. John, thank you so much for being our special guest on this show today. This is probably going to be one of my favorite shows of all time because you shared so many golden nuggets and you also shared the heart. Just we really, really appreciate you and the example that you are to the whole world and more power to you, brother. I mean I love motorcycles. So just keep selling that stuff.
John: Let’s go riding
Kody: In fact you come to our convention. We have a convention with SendOutCards in April.
John: I’m coming.
Kody: There will still be snow. There will still be snow on the mountains. So if there’s enough snow, Super Dave Smith and I will take you snowmobiling. If there’s enough snow on the convention, we will run on up there and go for a ride.
John: I will come out early for that, Kody.
Kody: All right.
John: You bet you.
Kody: We will stay in touch on that and thank you very much. Thanks everybody for tuning in today. I look forward to seeing you next week at the same time. God bless everybody. Take care now.