Cookie Monster said it best in Avenue Q: The Internet is for porn!


Foodservice dealers and sales professionals are all grappling with how the growth in ecommerce is impacting our business.  Luckily for me, my expertise as a tabletop consultant, primarily hired for the ability to specify suitable, distinctive tableware, has positioned me better than other specialists.


Sure I lose the occasional blender order to an online retailer with employees who likely cannot differentiate machines, but buyers still prefer to feel their dinnerware, flatware, glassware, and most tabletop accessories before purchase.

However, the industry is undergoing a dynamic change that is affecting many of my good friends. To better understand this market shift, I’ve spoken with three of our region’s largest heavy equipment manufacturer representatives. Joe Ferri (JF) of Pecinka Ferri is at the forefront of social media. His website features his own insightful posts as well as real time industry news. Michael Posternak (MP) shares my commitment to scholarship and is a dedicated member of The Partridge Invitation Scholarship Foundation, committed to raising funds for students pursuing careers in Hospitality. He leads a team of masterful industry networkers at PBAC. Finally, Jeff Hessel (JH) of BSE Marketing is a wonderful student of the business, and a brilliant teacher. His highly skilled four man culinary team manages a 5000 square foot test kitchen of fully operating equipment. As Joe, Michael, and Jeff told me, the customer experience is significantly worse when ordering online.

JH: The hurdle all begins with “the race to the bottom”. Low margins impact the “value added” services we can provide to the operator in terms of training, follow-up, and after care.

MP: The internet might work for some commodity supplies, but badly breaks down when used to source heavy equipment.

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JH: The real differentiation between top brands is the added value the rep and dealer team provide: product and industry knowledge, culinary acumen, customer service reliability, and assistance AFTER the sale.

JF: All of our trading partners are feeling the pinch and looking for creative solutions to keep their service levels up while maintaining profitability. Our success is consistently derived from the support of and from our dealer sales representative partners through responsive customer service. Our test kitchen facility affords the marketplace a comfortable setting for culinary events, product and equipment validation, training and education.

MP: We assume all responsibility and fully resolve all problems, making customers for life. That is what I love about this business. Our forte is representing the highest quality brands that we have invested a lifetime in. We must constantly demonstrate the best value.

Tabletop supplies and heavy equipment are two categories where knowledgeable consultants offer critical value.  

When you look to reduce costs by experimenting with alternative distribution channels such as the internet, you are ceding significant value added services from representatives and dealers. The internet doesn’t provide the curated experience that a rep can.  Accessing industry information immediately on the internet is vital to operating in foodservice today, but we must be aware that the cost to purchase is not the true cost of ownership.  I hope you have the opportunity and choose to engage each of these knowledgeable industry leaders and allow them to navigate the purchasing process with you.  Follow @joeferri on twitter or visit www.foodiequipper.com. Join Michael on April 14th at a wine tasting event to support www.thepartridge.org. Email Jeffh@bsemarketing.com and schedule a visit to BSE’s new test kitchen. And for more with me, please visit www.littlemtucker.com.