The pharmaceutical and foodservice equipment industries could not be more different, yet it was training in drug sales that helped Christine Poldiak land her current job as outside sales rep for TriMark United East.
TriMark," Poldiak says."After moving from Connecticut back to Cape Cod, I was bartending at a local restaurant when one of our regulars approached me about a job opportunity at
With experience as both a bartender and waitress, she was no stranger to the foodservice industry.
Podiak has since worked at TriMark for more than ten years. Her clients are mostly independent restaurants, in addition to a few regional chains, hospitals and schools.
FE&S: How did your previous experience selling pharmaceuticals assist you in making the transition to selling foodservice equipment and supplies?
CP: It's important to know the product being sold. There are many pharmaceuticals in the field, and it's the same with foodservice products. There is always something new to learn and room to improve.
FE&S: Describe your approach to working with customers.
CP: Honesty is important, and trust comes with time. I've had customers who've been with me since the beginning, but I have to prove myself to new customers. Being a woman in this business has its pros and cons. It definitely makes it easier to get in the door, but it can be more challenging once inside until they realize that I really do know what I'm talking about.
FE&S: You really enjoy the tabletop aspect of the business. What do you like most about it?
CP: I love sampling new products and working with new build-outs and restaurants. I enjoy helping owners and chefs decide how they want to present food. This spring I had a Nantucket customer hand me a torn out photo from a food magazine with a picture of a bowl of soup. There was no page number or magazine name. I made it my mission to track down the bowl, and it took me close to two months. My customer was so excited that he ordered a couple dozen. The bowl was so unique, that others began calling me to see if I sold it to him. Since he had asked me to not make it available to anyone else, I had to honor his request.
FE&S: Where do you get your design inspiration?
CP: I like fashion, so that's a big part of it. I think I have a knack for design, too. I constantly flip through magazines for ideas.
FE&S: What common mistakes should operators avoid when pulling together their tabletops?
CP: I've learned not to give customers too many choices, because they tend to get overwhelmed. I typically choose three manufacturers and provide a few price comparisons within the same style.
FE&S: During the course of your career, what's the most important lesson you have learned?
CP: Mistakes will happen and the most important thing I've learned is you have to win back customers' trust and loyalty. Correcting mistakes is one thing, but striving to learn from them so it doesn't happen again is another. Mistakes may happen before I get involved, but it's my face the customer sees on a weekly basis. One of my main goals is to be their go-to person.