1. Know your customers. Don't leave solely to your sales reps the job of getting to know and understand your customers' needs. Owners, presidents and the general managers of yards should take the time to get into the field and become familiar with customers. It's time that can be used to learn a customer's likes and dislikes, how their business is faring and what their needs are. Visits to job sites can also be used to learn just how good a job a salesman might be doing–or not doing. Don't wait for your customers to come to you; go to them.
2. Pay Attention. While your sales reps might maintain profiles, order histories, and specifics about customers, you should be reviewing that data as well. Take the time to examine it as often as possible. After all, if you're the owner of a company or running a yard, that information belongs to you and can be vital down the road.
3. Rally the Troops. The job of building relations with customers is not left to a sale rep alone. Maintaining good relations also falls on the shoulders of desk personnel, yard workers, and drivers. A lousy visit to the yard or a delivery from a driver who could care less about the customer could be a deal-breaker down the road. Once the salesman has the customer in your door and in your databank, make sure the rest of your staff keeps up their end of the deal.
4. Fallen Ranks. With competing yards closing on a weekly basis, pay attention to which sales reps might be looking for a job. They will likely come to you seeking employment with a portfolio of what they can bring to the table. But that's not a guarantee. Another competitor could gobble them up as well. If that's the case, you could be on the outside looking in when that sales rep expands your rival's business while tapping into key customers or niche markets.