How To Onboard A Wine, Beer Or Spirits Wholesaler

15/05/2023 Sid Patel, CEO of USA Wine, Beer and Spirits Ratings shares what wineries, distilleries, breweries and other brand managers must cover when they meet their distributors and how to onboard them

The Distributor Sales Meeting: Here is what you should cover.

1) Industry and market trends - the size of the market

2) Company history, milestones, and success stories

3) Price list that frontline pricing, discounts, credit, freight and trade allowances

4) Samples of the product, packaging, UPC codes and recommended pricing

5) Product brochure or sell sheet that provides background on the product’s source, geography, climate, the water (well or City), the winemaker or brewmaster credentials/awards won and the varietals or beer styles you will be offering

6) List of distributors and retailers currently selling your product

7) Marketing and promotion plans, including in-store demos, POS, merchandisers/displays, advertising and publicity, and website/social media

8) The capacity of a brewery or winery to prove the potential of large volume potential

9) Manufacturing information that includes the UCC code

10) Develop a distributor sales incentive for the kick-off or launch

11) Copy of your presentation (leave behind) and business card

12) Be sure to thank all present for their time and send a follow-up email or review of what you covered in the Meeting

Sid Patel and Ian Louisignau

Sid Patel and Ian Louisignau, Director of Sales & Portfolio Manager at Maverick Wine Company. Check this interview to get a better understanding of the distributor's business.

Brand Territory Agreements/Termination (Follow-Up)

sometimes things don’t go well for the small Brewer and/or Winery and you want to make a change. A distributor appointment is like a “marriage.” Many state laws protect the distributor and therefore it is very difficult (and expensive) to terminate. You will need a lawyer or someone in the Industry to share with you a Brand Territory Agreement.

This Agreement will serve as the contract between you and your appointed distributor into perpetuity. It will outline sales goals, distribution goals, credit terms, quality control expectations, marketing support, termination procedures, and assigned brands and territories, down to a city street, if necessary. It will be a valuable tool when and if a dispute takes place. It can also have buyout procedures, as well as individual state franchise laws and what the expectations are on both sides.

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The Distributor - Policies and Procedures

Once you have landed the distributor, handled the sales force kick-off meeting and offered your sales support, the Brewer and Winery can’t forget to “ask for the order!” Here are some of the items you will need to create to gain the distributor’s participation in your brand:

Brewery/Winery order form - who to contact, lead times for order, how the product is shipped and from where, # of cases/kegs per pallet, the weight of each case, UPC Codes et al).

Policies on samples (one common way is to have the distributor pay 100% upfront and then deduct that expense from their first order).

Policies on product returns (who pays for what).

Keg/pallet deposits and returns.

Sales, inventory and depletion reports.

Product storage requirements (cold storage for kegs).

Out-of-code product in the trade (who is responsible).

EFT Forms - payment for beer is normally Net 10 days and for wine and spirits, it is normally Net 30 days. EFT is a very good way of gaining an advantage in cash flow - many distributors prefer to send checks.

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