prepare for your route sales promotion

Running a Successful Route Sales Promotion

lombardi-quoteOver the years, laundry vendors have worked tirelessly with members on Route Sales Promotions. Effective Route Sales Promotions do many things. They help to increase your revenues, and they allow your Route Service Team members to earn additional commissions. Most importantly, successful Route Sales Promotions benefit your customers by supplying new products that will help their businesses. The purpose of this article is to share with the Universal Unilink membership some of the best Route Sales Promotion practices. We believe that proper preparation will make a difference in moving the needle towards success for all.


Laundries who are successful with their Route Sales Promotions begin their planning process well in advance of the actual kick-off date. It is deeply embedded into their corporate culture. If the first time you talk about a September Route Sales Promotion is in August, do not be disappointed if the results are less than anticipated. Consider posting your promotions calendar every year and making it an agenda item on your weekly staff meeting.


In the past we referred to a calendar based push as a “contest”. The word “contest” usually implies there is one winner. And by the way, that means everyone else is a non-winner. Another word for a non-winner is loser. Why fight this battle? A “promotion” encourages multiple winners. In fact, thoroughly planned Route Sales Promotions can make for a win-win-win. The first and most important winner is your customer. They MUST receive value and be helped by the product you are introducing to them. When your customer wins, it builds TRUST, and few things in today’s rough and tumble business world are more important than TRUST. Your Route Service and Sales Team can win by earning extra commission and serving a happier customer. You, of course, win by growing the business.


A good acronym used to describe a “Goal” is SMART. Goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound.

When discussing this concept before a promotion, I once asked a customer,“What are your goals for the promotion?” The response was along the lines of, “To grow the business as much as possible.” Is that a good goal? Would it be better to post the following in your Service Department, “Our GOAL is to grow each route an average of $25.00 in new weekly business during the month of July. We will met and / or exceed this goal through the effective sampling of anti-fatigue mats”. This goal setting exercise should vary very little among product categories. In other words, if the road map for a successful Route Sales Promotion works for mats, it should work for mops, soaps, air fresheners, paper, tee shirts of jackets to name a few.


4-6 weeks in advance of the Route Sales Promotion there should be a meeting involving the Route Service and Leadership Teams. The agenda of the meeting should consist of:

  1. Introduce the Concept of the Promotion. Here’s where you cover why we are doing the promotion.
  2. Introduce the Product(s) in the Promotion. It could be a new item or one that you have not done for several years. Your vendors are great sources of information on what is working and why.
  3. Dates of the promotion. It is common to run them for 4 weeks. We have seen very good results with an intense 2 week “all-in” effort.
  4. Agree upon the commission structure. Graduated commission programs based upon performance will be well received by your Route Service Team.
  5. Determine a daily sampling goal that can be achieved by all Team members.
  6. Homework Assignment. Yes, there may be a collective groan from the room, but you are going to make it easy homework. You will require a written list from each route person that consists of 20-25 targets (depends on your growth goal). Information required is customer name, contact, type of mat and/or placement and the total number of mats. You can either have them do this on an official document such as a spreadsheet, or a route settlement sheet that you provide them. The point is it has to be in writing and it has to be back in your hands within 7 days.


Here is where the rubber meets the road. Once every list is collected, and about 3 weeks before the start of the promotion, a member of your Leadership Team should conduct a one on one meeting with your Route Service Representative to share information about customers that could prompt revisions. Once the list is set, each target is assigned a member of your team that has responsibility to leave a sample. You may decide that your Route Service Representative has been dealing with this account for 5 plus years and they “own” the relationship.

You could decide that a target customer has locations that cross into different routes. In this case, you may simply ask your Route Service Representative to pave the way for another Team member. By assigning ownership for the sample, nobody is left behind and no opportunity falls through the cracks.

In the next installment, we’ll discuss best practices on the actual execution of a promotion. Mountville Mills would encourage you to seek out the counsel of several of your vendors and ask them for suggestions on best practices.

Joe Rubbelke, Mountville Mills

Call (615) 594-9961 or email to