Facilities News

If you didn’t think this was the time to explore adding Facility Supplies to your distribution model, maybe the following news will help to convince you otherwise. 

During the first two weeks of 2019, Staples announced that they were cutting a significant amount of FS Account Executives (FS AE) and FS Business Development Executives (FS BDE).  The FS sales teams were impacted across the country, ahead of the FTC’s approval of Staples’ acquisition of Essendent.  These cuts happened roughly 8 months after Staples’ cut 50 FS AE jobs nationwide in May 2018.  There are still more cuts to come in California and the Northern Plain States, expected in March.

Before I go further, let me supply you with some context as to the Facility Supply roles that were part of the reduction.

FS AE’s managed local business where the Facility Supply spend for a customer would value over $100,000 to $500,000 and focused on local customers throughout all industry segments.

FS BDE’s were distributed in a regional aspect and namely call on FS opportunities over $500,000.

In addition to the FS sales team, about 100 General Line Account Managers from across the country were let go during the week of January 21st at Staples.

Today, there are pockets of the US, where Staples effectively is not selling or servicing Commercial Accounts on any level.  There are no feet on the street, and your biggest competitor is trying to handle accounts remotely from call centers in Novi, Michigan; Orlando, Florida; or Southern California.

My best guess is that Staples has cut or repositioned about 250 Facility Supply personnel in the past couple of years and replaced essential managerial and business development positions with people who have little or no significant experience in the Facility Supply industry. 

To give you a comparison, Office Depot only has about 100 Facility Sales & support people throughout the entire company.  That’s it, 100 people.

So all these facts are good, but what does this really mean for ISG members?

  1. If you know of a Staples’ customer in your territory, get ahold of them, TODAY!  They may or may not know of the changes, and FS still is an industry that needs the Customer Service that ISG members provide.
  2. If you are looking for a Facilities Supplies expert, who knows how to sell FS within the Office Supply channel, there are plenty on the street as of today, and more coming depending on your area of the country.
  3. If you don’t plan to hire outside help, I suggest that you name someone within your sales team as the FS Champion.  In the near future, I will be starting a process to pass along more detailed FS information, and it will be important to have someone at each dealership for me to make contact with to keep the information flowing efficiently.
  4. Staples has abandoned the FS market when it comes to small (under $25,000 annual FS budget) and medium size ($25,000 to $100,000) customers.  With ISG members’ resources and business model, you can compete, and I am working on getting vendors to the table to make you more competitive as time goes on.  
  5. If you run into opportunities that Staples holds and they have locations outside your footprint, please reach out to EPIC Business Essentials (Toby Tobin & Scott Zintz) to develop a National FS Sales Strategy might be the right course of action.

Now more than ever, is a great time to expand into Facility Supply sales to increase your revenue, margins, and average order size.  There are customers that Staples has abandoned, and they’re going to need YOUR help!  Go out there, find them, sell them, service them, and make them YOUR customer!

Let me know if you have any questions, and I will try my best to answer them.

Frank Hoard, Director, Facility Supply Channel - Hoard@isg.coop - 330-212-5985