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Special Orders
What you need to know

July 22, 2021
Author : Doug Lind

What’s the 1st thing someone in the Food Industry thinks of when a Distributor Rep, Manufacture Rep or Broker Rep says “it’s a Special order”?

My hope in this article is to walk you through the process that Distributors have to go through to process a Special Order and what steps you can take to make this work for you.

The biggest secret to Special Orders is knowing the Order Cycles of the distributor. What is an Order Cycle? Well, distributors don’t buy every week from every supplier! Distributor’s computer systems calculate the amount of inventory needed on EVERY sku in their building. The system is set up to keep the proper inventory, (plus a margin of error) at all times. The margin of error is in place for a late truck, accidents shutting down a highway, or a Snow Storm! This system also informs the buyer of the lead times them manufacture requires, and when the order should be placed. This is critical for Special Orders!

Knowing the Order Cycle will streamline the process on several levels! For example let’s say a month has 4 weeks. The distributor orders on week 1 and 3. If a Special Order is confirmed by the end-user on week 2, we now have 7 days BEFORE the Special Order is even placed! With the logistics of moving product from point A to Point B, what we call the Channels of Distribution, we must remember that most manufactures require 7 days lead time to ensure availability of the products. This means if the distributor orders on week 1, delivery or pick up will be at the end of week 2, with delivery to the distributor on Monday/Tuesday of week 3!

Understanding the Order Cycles and Channels of Distribution will then give the end-user an accurate ETA on the Special Order Products. An experienced Account Manager, will be able to help the Distributor Reps with this process. If possible, it is suggested to Special order several cases. With the volumes of product that distributors move in a day, finding the single Special Order case can sometimes be challenging! If the order cycle is longer than Bi-weekly, it is always better to special order just before the Distributor places their regular order. Special Orders are a way to get the new product you want and support the foodservice industry in bringing new products to market. All it takes is the knowledge of the Channels of Distribution and Ordering Cycles!

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