Interview with Olaf Koch 1/4
‘We don’t work for METRO’ is the slogan of the new METRO Wholesale campaign. Who do you work for, Mr Koch?
Our corporate mission is to do a job for small and medium-sized businesses that goes way beyond the task of a simple wholesaler. We make product ranges available, offer services and solutions and provide advice to make these businesses more successful. We work for the customer. We are committed to meeting their needs, day in and day out. This is where we come from and where we are going as a wholesaler. It’s an approach that is not only economically attractive, but also valuable to society – because the ability to experience the diversity, creativity and passion of these millions of entrepreneurs is an asset worth protecting in our society. And that’s what I work for – just like all the other over 146,000 METRO employees.
Many companies pursue a strategy of focusing on customer needs. What makes METRO different and more successful?
As a wholesaler, we are privileged in that we can engage much more with our customers than if we served a large number of anonymous customers. Unlike retailers, we can generate high nominal sales from a much smaller number of customers, because we have a commercial relationship that results in much bigger purchase volumes. This in turn motivates us to focus far more intensively on individual customers, to build trust and to keep on learning all the time: What can we do? What extra support can we provide? We do this both in our core business and through products and services that used not to be a part of our portfolio.
Independent entrepreneurs make our everyday life more colourful and inspire us with great variety, culinary highlights and their dedication. They embody the colours of liberty. That’s why it’s a tremendous honour for us at METRO to be a strong partner to them. Their success is our business.
How does METRO succeed in finding practicable solutions that meet the challenges of independent entrepreneurs and also help METRO?
We have learnt a lot in recent years. In the past, the focus was more on standardisation on an international scale. Today, the focus has swung almost all the way round to radical localisation. In other words, through our decentralised management model, we focus on our target group in each individual country. The role of the local team is to keep on learning: What needs are there that we are not yet meeting? What trends are coming that will affect our customers in the future? What are the legal challenges that our customers have to master? At the same time, we have to keep taking the helicopter view so that we can see early on how the market environment is developing. This is the only way we can find solutions that will really help our target groups.
As a sales force employee at MAKRO Poznań, Błażej Górlaga is responsible for trader customers like Edyta. There’s a simple reason why he has such a good rapport with the independent entrepreneurs: he knows his customers very well and is always open to what they have to say.
Edyta Helak was already enthusiastic about trade as a child – inspired by her grandmother. This passion drives her to this day. Edyta now manages 4 shops in the region to the north of the Polish city Poznań and is an entrepreneur through and through: ‘MAKRO and I basically do the same thing – just on different scales.’
On the premises
We support independent grocers in Poland through our trader franchising model, Odido.
Edyta is one of many grocery store owners in Poland who have joined in this form of franchise operations. She is regularly on hand at her Odido shops to talk to her employees, organise deliveries, optimise the position of products on the shelves and make sure the stores have the right product assortment. Despite her tight schedule, Edyta also always takes time for conversation with the customers – because it is important to her to be not only a business owner and entrepreneur, but, especially, a good neighbour, listener and contact partner.
Carefully selected assortment
Edyta puts great importance on the product range. After all, her customers come to her stores above all because they value the selection and the high quality of the goods she sells. She receives professional support from Błażej Górlaga, her contact person at MAKRO Poznań. For example, he helped her to install specialised software that lets her easily place her orders with MAKRO at any time.
From Błażej, Edyta expects not just good advice with regard to offers, promotions and product range, but honest feedback on her stores: ‘I don’t need him telling me that everything’s great. I’ve asked him to let me know specifically what I can do better!’Watch video again
Together, the two of them are an unbeatable team and complement one another perfectly: Edyta and Błażej speak on the phone every day and Błażej visits Edyta in person every Tuesday. They discuss products, placements and prices – and new ideas for Edyta’s shops.
Edyta describes herself as an inveterate optimist. This is one of the reasons people like to come into her shops – not only for the wide product range and the service quality, but also because Edyta understands them, responds to their individual needs and takes time for them. This is something we are delighted to support!
On the go for customers
Błażej has worked for 4 years as a sales force employee for MAKRO Poznań in the north-west of Poland and in a smaller area in the eastern part of the country. In this time, he has built up a core clientele of some 60 to 70 Traders, with whom he maintains close and trusting contact.
To stay abreast of exactly what they need and be able to make them suitable offers, he is on the move daily in his region.
Sales with distinction
Błażej discovered his passion for commerce early on, quickly taking to the internet to sell items that he no longer needed. And after joining his brother, also a sales representative, on the road a few times, B?a?ej’s career aspiration was clear. Obviously, it was the right decision. B?a?ej is among the best sales force employees in Poland today. His accomplishments were even honoured with an award at a nationwide conference.
‘That’s an affirmation for me – and a great motivation!’Watch video again
WE ARE ON THE MOVE