Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

MAY 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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46 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • MAY 2017 One growth area for Johnson-Lancaster and Associates is, the dealer's three-year-old e-commerce division. This part of the business is pure e-commerce and goes to market separately from the contract and design-build parts of the dealership. "We all live under one roof and have plenty of interaction with other departments but we are our own entity," says Amanda Swain, customer success manager for Kitchenrestock. com. "E-commerce is very different from the contract side of the business." Kitchenrestock generated $9 million in sales in 2016 and is on track to deliver $18 million in revenues this year. "It's been huge growth since day one," Swain says. "We have everyone from the restaurant and bar owner to the general public. We really service everyone. "We are being very safe with our growth. You can't grow too quickly. If you take things too fast you make mistakes," Swain adds. "We want to roll things out at a very steady pace and be meticulous in our approach." The division consists of Swain and six associates, though the company intends to hire a few more people to help manage the anticipated growth. Some orders come in via the Kitchen- website, which prominently features a customer service phone number on every page. In fact, 60 percent of the orders come via the phone, according to Swain. "We like to be on the phone talking to our custom- ers," she says. "It becomes more personal that way, too. Some people still are not comfort- able placing an order on a website or purchas- ing large, expensive equipment via a website. So we need to make them comfortable about making that purchase." The site's chat feature also helps manage customer service both during and after the sale. "People will visit our website and activate the chat feature," Swain says. "Then they pro- vide their order number to check on the status of their order, etc." The way Kitchenrestock goes to market differs from other parts of Johnson-Lancaster and Associates but one thing that remains the same is the unwavering focus on customer service. "We strive to be very customer-service oriented. That's what we want to set us apart," Swain says. That customer-centric approach also includes moving with a sense of urgency. "Our customers need these items by a specific time. Often they are stressed when ordering these things," Swain says. "So we need to hold their hand and be respectful to them at all times." orders get shipped from Johnson-Lancaster's Clearwater ware- house or, in some instances, from a factory. Like other successful e-commerce plat- forms, having a well-trained team is essential at "We are always training people. That's a constant in our industry, for sure," Swain says. "The people we hire have to have foodservice experience. And we teach them how to tear apart a spec sheet to understand what the information means. Our rep groups come in for monthly training and we do a lot of webcast training through SEFA, our buying group." As part of its customer-service philosophy, Kitchenrestock strives to make plenty of prod- uct information available to customers visiting its site. This includes videos from the manufac- turers, factory spec sheets and even customer reviews. "When they, say, click on that oven, I want them to have all of that information at their fingertips," Swain says. And if a customer has a difficult question? "Our reply is not 'I don't have that answer' but 'I will find out that information and get back to you,' " Swain says. KITCHENRESTOCK.COM QUIET GIANTS

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