For those cooking a meal, gathering all the ingredients can be an irritating ordeal. By trolling aisle after aisle and bouncing from store to store, the process of purchasing all the vital spices and seasonings can take as long as cooking the meal itself.

The process is no different for those buying cleaning equipment for kitchens. By purchasing from different distributors, end users spend more time buying goods instead of focusing on other aspects of their job.

Fortunately, cleaning personnel can reap the benefits of “bundling.” The bundling process involves distributors grouping a number of products for customers, designed specifically for one particular market.

The Appeal Of Bundling Products

As with selling anything, salespeople need that extra “something,” aside from the characteristics of the product to make their sale irresistible. It is no different for distributors selling bundles of supplies to customers. Because distributors are selling more than one product, they go beyond detailing the specifics of an individual product in their sales pitch. Instead, distributors focus on the advantages as it specifically relates to the end user.

Some distributors use bundling as a way to help customers implement a cleaning system geared to create desired results from their cleaning. Bundling helps the customer reach those results.

“Bundling, (we call it ‘System Selling’) installs a systems with procedures, that if followed correctly, provide the customer with the results that they seek,” says Mike Pinto, purchasing/sales manager of Action Unlimited Resources, Inc., New Castle, Del.

Generating cleaning results from bundling coincides with customers not having to deal with as many distributors to purchase all their necessary jan/san products.

“A lot of end users want to downsize the amount of vendors they are dealing with,” says Randie Marah, general manager of TBS Commercial Building Maintenance, Inc., Kansas City, Kan. “If you can deal with one distributor instead of four or five, it saves a lot of time for the customer.”

Pairing Products For The Kitchen

When it comes to bundling kitchen cleaning products, not all customers are interested in bundling every product from the line of products from a distributor. Instead, end users want two or three products paired together specific to cleaning certain areas of a kitchen.

Customers will usually look to pair dispensing equipment especially the chemicals and the actual dispensing unit, says Pinto. Other pairings include floor scrubbing equipment and mopping equipment made up of buckets, wringers, mops and buckets.

A cross-contamination package containing green-certified cleaning products and other chemicals is also popular. The line is further broken down into selling degreasers, floor cleaners, glass cleaners and sanitizers. A majority of the chemical lines will typically include products that can be used in multiple parts of a facility, especially the kitchen, says Gary Morin, vice president of sales for Alpine Industrial Inc., Auburn, Mass.

“In our package we look to include some of our Green Seal certified products that can clean 99.9 percent of the products in a facility,” says Morin.

Potential Customers

Whether it is selling an entire bundle of products, or a set of paired products, distributors have found different facilities as profitable sources for selling bundles.

Morin has had success selling to school cafeterias because of the breadth of products the facilities need throughout the building.

With schools, the person in charge of the cafeteria is not only interested in degreasers and sanitizers, but they also need chemicals to clean countertops and floors throughout the entire facility, says Morin.

Restaurants also offer an available market for distributors looking to bundle cleaning products exclusive to the kitchen.

The restaurant market calls for a number of different products. From warewashing equipment to green-certified cleaners, the market calls for not only equipment that can be used in the kitchen, but other chemicals needed to clean multiple areas of the restaurant to maximize the productivity.

Bundling Holdups

Though distributors have found success bundling products, there is a certain amount of trepidation and other obstacles from end users to overcome to entice the customer to purchase a bundle of products.

Purchasing individual products from specific distributors to getting a majority of supplies from a single distributor is a big change for customers to grow accustomed, says Murphy.

“No one is anxious to change the entire way that things work,” says Murphy.” It is a change going about purchasing things in that manner. A customer’s mindset makes that difficult.”

An important factor for Marah is establishing trust with a customer so that they are willing to bundle. If a customer cannot trust the salesperson they are dealing with the distributor has little to no chance of getting the customer to purchase a bundle of products, says Marah. When the salesperson can deliver on products and service, the process of bundling becomes easier and easier.

After building a trust relationship with the customer, the distributor has to ascertain the type of products that would go into a suitable bundle for a specific customer. Morin says that at the beginning, bundling is a little more difficult because the pressure is on the distributor to put together the right type of package.

Aside from establishing trust and selecting the right products, bundling kitchen cleaning products is made more difficult because jan/san distributors have to compete with foodservice distributors when selling to facilities, specifically restaurants.

“Foodservice representatives can sell everything from stretch wrap, forks, knives, spoons, plates and they will handle the cleaning equipment on top of that,” says Murphy. “With restaurants you usually need skewed sizes of plates and glasses and the foodservice distributors offer more of those products than we do.”

Customer And Salespeople Advantages

After handling the objections associated with bundling, customers will find advantages by purchasing a bundle of cleaning products from distributors.

Since distributors are selling a handful of products to a single customer, the distributor takes on a consultative role, helping the customer fill out the right type of products to satisfy their cleaning needs.

“The mindset we take is ‘how do I help the customer get to the price so that they are going to be doing the right thing at their facility and reaching their goals of what they need to be,’” says Murphy.

By selling a bundle of products, the customer incurs a price savings since all of their purchases are going through one company, something Pinto considers commonplace for bundling.

The salesperson determines the level of pricing when they decide to go after a piece of business, says Pinto. The overall cost should be an advantage to the customer over past costs because one distributor is delivering all the goods.

After purchasing the products, distributors will send out manufacturer representatives and sales representatives from the distribution company to make sure the customer knows how to use each product.

“There is an education process that involves the manufacturer’s rep and a rep from our company,” says Murphy. The sessions educate both the salespeople and the customer to build up familiarity with the product.

While the perks of bundling rests on a more consistent relationship with their sales rep, distributors can find certain advantages to selling bundles of products.

Bundling allows distributors to offer more products to their customers, says Marah. The end users can make their own judgments from the line of products and it makes sales calls easier.

Thanks to the array of products that go into a bundle, it limits the competition reps face, says Pinto.

The competition for the sales person becomes him vs. himself, he says. It is up to the salesperson to hone the results of the systems they sell with care, and stay in communication with the customer.

By limiting competition, distributors can also save time by bundling products.

“You do not have to resell the same thing every time if you can bundle products,” says Murphy. “It saves a lot of time for the customer and the salesperson as well.”