DSR of the Month - John Montemayor

July 1985

Michele McCoy

If one way to approach sales is from a football player’s point of view, then John Montemayor, a $3.4 million-a-year DSR with Labatt Food Service, San Antonio, Texas, would be well on his way to the Hall of fame.  His strategies:  stay on the offensive, focus on penetrating an account until reaching the goal of becoming its primary supplier, and aggressively tackle and training in new products and technology.

Ask Montemayor if these techniques work, and the answer is a definitive yes.  “I think what sets me apart from my competition is that I explore the trends, know the menu, and identify the problem before there is a problem,” he says.

A strong point of differentiation Montemayor uses in his sales approach is Labatt’s policy of carrying only nationally branded products.  “We ask our customers if they’re tired of playing the private label game, trying to guess which manufacturer’s product is behind that label,” he points out .

Recently, a customer told him that a competitor had offered her spices for $2 a pound and under, a lower price than Labatt’s brands.  To tackle the issue head-on, Montemayor gave three chefs at the operation a blind taste test comparing the brand of pepper he sold to the competition’s.  They all chose his.  The customer hasn’t mentioned any competitor’s prices since.

Another key to Montemayor’s success is single-source sales.  Although he only has 26 accounts, his volume is high because, according to his estimates, he’s the primary supplier for 98 percent of them.  His defense is what he calls the “barriers to entry” strategy—once he’s selling a particular product line, he does everything he can to block the competition from capturing that business.

“I’m always looking for ways to increase profitability and gross margin, whether it’s product- or service-related.  If I’m enjoying 80 percent of the business, I’m concentrating on the 20 percent that I’m not getting,” Montemayor says.

Anticipating potential problems also helps Montemayor get and keep the lion’s share of his customers’ business. For example, when recent flooding in southern California wreaked havoc on avocado crops, a product his Mexican restaurants can’t do without, prices rose from $12 or $13 to about $45 a case from at least one supplier, and supplies were tight.  Rather than scramble to look for alternative sources, Montemayor booked a six-week supply in advance, guaranteeing product for his accounts, and suggested the customers save money by being flexible on size and weight specifications.

Because of his eagerness to embrace new technologies, Labatt general manager Al Silva chose Montemayor as the first rep to use the company’s new pen-top computing system.  Montemayor says the system, now three years old, has increased his efficiency and helped to eliminate a lot of errors.

“John has customers that he’s had for eight years, and they love him,” Silva comments.  “They love him because he shoots straight and he does what he says he’s going to do.  He’s very aggressive and ambitious, but in a positive way.  He doesn’t put himself first and because of that, he does very well.”