Alison’s Blueprint stint in C C helps retailers increase profit

The first thing I do each day is start up my laptop and synchronise with Prism. This is the unique software that the Blueprint scheme has developed specifically to record all the regional specialist’s calls and conversions and to monitor sales data pre- and post- a Blueprint makeover.

I check for new information from IMA – which has managed the Blueprint scheme since its launch 14 years ago – for example new retailer leads, and then check that all my reports from the previous days calls have been sent and logged at IMA.

Then I’m out on the road. Today I will spend half a day manning the special Blueprint stand in-depot at an FWD-affiliated wholesaler in my region. This is a relatively new activity for the Blueprint but it is definitely an extremely useful way of getting out and meeting retailers and explaining to them the principles of the Blueprint face-to-face.

I work closely with the wholesalers to make sure that the stand is in-depot at peak trading times to get the most benefit and importantly meet as many retailers as possible, and this can be as early as when the doors first open at 6.30am.

A typical morning in a depot can generate as many as 30 new retailer leads to work on in the following weeks. This can vary from retailers completely new to the scheme and wanting a store visit to familiar faces asking what’s new on the Blueprint front.

It is becoming more apparent that retailers are still looking to their wholesaler as the first port of call for advice on merchandising, and the stand is a great way to meet these needs. It’s a win win situation as it means I am getting out and meeting a greater number of retailers, who in turn are receiving the sales-improving help from the Blueprint. The wholesaler also benefits as the increased trade at the retailers means more spend at the wholesaler.

Once I’m finished at the depot, it is time to turn these leads into actual Blueprint conversions. I pre-arrange with the retailer a suitable time to visit their store so I’m not turning up mid a delivery of stock for example and getting in the way of them trying to run their business.

On average a Blueprint conversion will take six and a half hours, as it often involves a lot more work than simply re-merchandising the stock on the shelves. We give each store a full clean-down of their alcohol fixtures and often that means removing a couple of inches of dust and last years Christmas decorations stuffed down the back of the fixture.

Once the shelves are ready, I get on with the re-merchandising. Depending on the size of the store I can still be working well into the evening, just to make sure the job gets done. It’s worth doing the job properly and working alongside the retailer to ensure that they understand the principles of the Blueprint so that they are able to maintain the fixtures once I’ve gone.

When I’ve finished I’ll leave a list of all the key ‘recommended’ brands that the retailer is missing and advise where to put them once purchased. A lot of retailers I have worked with will go to their wholesaler there and then to purchase missing product straight away.

The feedback when I’ve completed a job and the transformation that the Blueprint can give to a store is incredible. It’s fascinating to go back in a couple weeks and to hear how much the Blueprint has boosted sales for an independent retailer. It always works.

So despite the often long and unsociable hours, being a Blueprint regional specialist is far from dull and I get to meet many interesting characters along the way. Knowing that I’ve helped put a retailer back on track with their alcohol sales and given them the fighting chance makes it all worthwhile.”

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=== Helpline ===

Wholesalers wishing to help their retailers increase their sales in beers, wines and spirits through the free Blueprint makeover service should contact the Helpline on 01614 402770.

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