Connections are everything, but quality connections are key. With the increasingly competitive landscape of the fresh produce industry subject to the efficiency or inefficiency of all of its moving parts, one business is looking to provide expertise in the produce supply chain and independent grocery retail industries: Execulytics Consulting.
Bringing more than 20 years of experience with buyer and supplier relationships into the fold, Execulytics Founder Mike Mauti has introduced the new program Retail 101 to industry members as navigating the ever-challenging buyer-supplier dynamic continues to unfold. As a former Loblaw executive who has held several fresh food leadership roles, Mike has given the Execulytics program more than a firm foundation.
Mike took a moment to introduce me to his progressive program, where he brings that repertoire of industry insights spanning much of the supply chain to his process—from fresh produce procurement, category management, and leading perishable sectors that include deli and fresh foods operations, to implementing and executing merchandising and operational programs.
“I have a very full and well-rounded appreciation for all things in the grocery and retail world, and with a significant portion of my professional career spent in produce, I look forward to continuing to elevate the quality of our industry’s relationships,” Mike shares with me. “Our Retail 101 one-day seminar provides an in-depth look into the life of a produce buying office with the intentions of improving the level of collaboration between the supplier’s produce sales office and that of the retailer, in order to become better suppliers.”
Retail 101’s full-day seminar is a deep dive into the other side of the customer relationship for sellers: how the suppliers’ product is sold to the end-consumer and what retailers prioritize in bringing the product to the register. In the end, the goal is truly to bridge the gap between the supplier and the buyer.
Every produce selling organization has different goals it wishes to accomplish. Understanding the goals of your business partners is a smart way to build a winning rapport with them. This includes understanding the various buying situations and how best to navigate them as well as gaining a deep understanding of the objectives and priorities of a produce category manager or buyer—concerns that include sales, gross margins, market share, contract buying, promotional buying, spot buying, and customer satisfaction.
You grow it; they sell it. Knowing exactly how retailers sell produce and conceptualize the product in store, is a great way to begin any journey of understanding for a seller. A knowledge of the 4 P’s of Merchandising and the CCR basics of produce operations is a great start.
Partnerships are forged when there is mutual satisfaction between the partners. And retailer satisfaction can be achieved only when a grower knows what is expected of them. Learn what buttons to push in order to build that winning partnership. The seminar ends with the interactive Negotiating for Win/Win game that demonstrates the skills required to build a win/win attitude in negotiations with retail partners.
“The nuances to each aspect of the retail buying office and program provides insights into how sellers can approach a given opportunity or challenge,” Mike tells me. “Knowing how the buyer looks at, and perceives, a transaction or negotiation allows the seller to be more prepared going into those types of interactions.”
Each seminar that Mike conducts wraps with an interesting educational, in-action type of exercise previously mentioned in his three-pronged approach—a game he calls Negotiating for Win/Win. The group takes some of the concepts that were learned throughout the afternoon and puts them into practice by essentially splitting participants into two to four teams where half of the group is the produce seller, and the other half is the produce buyer.
“The groups are presented with a situation that, at the outset, may seem unworkable,” Mike smiles. “They then need to find those little nuggets that have been hidden inside the game in order to satisfy the needs of both the buyer and the seller. Essentially, they are trying to find common ground and trying to create a win/win for both.”
I would personally love to be a fly on the wall during these mock-negotiations, and as Mike tells me, while they are part of the experience of the seminar, they really break down a lot of walls for those in the group. Imagine the game as the process of expanding your periphery when it comes to business negotiations.
Currently drawing suppliers in the United States and Canada, this vision and philosophy is something Mike hopes to expand into Mexico and even overseas as his business grows—after all, who doesn’t mind a little win-win at the end of the day.