You ensure that your favorite potato chips get from the grocer into your coveted snack drawer. But first, distributors ensure that those chips get from the manufacturer to the grocery store. You can fulfill this vital role in the supply chain by developing a distributor relationship with a snack company and securing a distribution route. With investment capital, a mind for sales and customer service skills, you can have a successful career in potato chip distribution.
What's A Distributor?
Potato chip companies need distributors to get their snacks into the hands of the customer. You contact potential retail outlets, like grocery stores, and present the potato chip product. You answer questions, recommend flavors and provide samples. If the retailer is interested, you negotiate pricing and credit terms. This part of the process is all about making the sale. If you are successful, you move on to coordinating scheduled deliveries of the product to the store. After service is established, distributors maintain regular communication with retailers, periodically introducing new products and adjusting the supply of product as needed.
Right To Sell
Before you start the selling process, the potato chip company has to recognize you as an official distributor. Established snack companies have existing distribution areas, that cover specific locations within a city or state. When an area becomes available, you can apply to purchase the distribution rights within that particular route. For new potato chip companies, contact the sales office with new route suggestions, and express your interest in purchasing one or more.
Finding Your Route
To find available routes, contact the potato chip company directly or visit the website. Mikesells is an Ohio-based snack company that manufactures potato chips. The company contracts directly with distributors and includes a distribution application on the website. Other potato chip manufacturers, like Herr's Potato Chips, use brokerage firms to sell their routes to distributors. Brokers bring the manufacturer and distributor together. They advertise available routes to potential distributors and manage the application process for the potato chip manufacturer. An internet search for distribution brokers will provide you with several brokerage companies and available routes for sale.
Securing Your Route
To secure and maintain a successful distribution route, you need an understanding of business and sales. Most distributors have a bachelors degree, according to the employment website, O*Net Online. Manufacturers also look for sales experience when considering your distributor application. Investment money is required to become a distributor, because you have to purchase the route. According to the brokerage company, Mr. Route, companies generally sell them at two to four times the route's net value in a year. So, if a potato chip route nets $100,000 per year, the company may sell it to you for a price of $200,000 to $400,000. Consider a business loan if you don't have funds immediately available.
Your Earning Potential
The earnings from your potato chip distribution route will vary based on sales and costs. Routes for large, popular brands will net you more profit than routes for smaller, lesser known products. O*Net Online categorizes distributors as wholesale sales representatives. The website lists the average salary at $54,230 per year. The employment outlook for the industry is average, with expected job growth of 10% to 19% between 2010 and 2020. Females can find opportunities in the distribution industry. Women's Distribution Services, Inc. (WDA) is a certified woman-owned distribution company that services numerous cities and states. It provides an example of how far women can excel within this industry.
Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.