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By: Dr. John T. Self

Food Service Sales Rep

You'll be working directly with base of between 25 to 40 customers. You would consult on-site with 6 to 8 customers daily, and make at least as many phone calls. A regular customer would be an independent restaurant or other food operation.

Typical career path
Most Territory Managers (TM's or Sales Reps) have typically come from similar positions with competitors, although some come out of restaurant operations. Territory Managers frequently move into Sales Management positions or into contract Sales Management should they seek growth opportunities. Most TM's prefer to remain as commissioned Territory Managers as the income is more lucrative and flexible.

Successful TM's are "on call" 7 days a week, depending on the needs and relationship with their customers. Hours vary with the individual, depending on style. Weekdays can be long, starting early and ending by 4 to 5 PM with some home office time to follow. Most TM's make some phone calls on Sundays for Monday deliveries. Wednesdays and Fridays can tend to be light. There can be a great deal of work, so organization and time management skills are very important.

Best part:

  • Aility to control your income
  • very flexible work environment

Worst part:

  • Needs of the customer can be high
  • Frustration with things you cannot directly control

Pay, Perks and benefits
Many sales positions are unsalaried, based 100% on commissions. Income varies from 2.5 to 4% on net sales. Top rep's can earn well in excess of $100K annually. Additional incentives in the form of trips, prizes and cash are available for the promotion of specific company goals.

About the author:  John T. Self is a lecturer at The Collins School of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona). Prior to entering academe, Dr. Self spent fifteen years in the restaurant industry. While in the corporate world, he worked for several chains including overseeing six restaurants with sales of over twenty million dollars. He has also owned three independent restaurants. While at Golden Gate University, he started the partnership with Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China and is continuing in that involvement at Cal Poly.

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