For this episode of ToiletTalk, we sat down with Kelly Luf, the Senior Vice President at A Royal Flush, to discuss how to make your sales team work like a well-oiled machine.
Wendy: Wendy here in the ServiceCore studio. Today’s episode is about turning your sales team into a well-oiled machine. Our guest is Kelly Luf, vice president of sales for a royal flush. Kelly’s built an amazing sales team and she’s gonna share with us how you can take your team to the next level. So let’s jump into the studio right this way.
So, Kelly, what do you think of the inside of the studio here at ServiceCore?
Kelly: It is very spacious. It smells great too actually. So that’s a positive.
Wendy: Yeah, we love it. It’s been pretty productive for us. So thank you for joining us today for our toilet talk and you are Kelly Luf with A Royal Flush out of the northeast region of the United States. So, and you have built an amazing sales team. Why don’t you share with our audience a little bit about kind of the before and after of all of that.
Kelly: So, yeah. I joined Flush in April of 2019 as the director of event sales. And at that time, I had one other person on my team and our outside sales team consisted of, I think about four or five members of that team as well. You know, the event space was really, this is 2019 PRE COVID. You know, salad days. It was really fantastic. We have a phenomenal inventory, a lot of restroom trailers. And so my one of my colleagues in the event space, my only colleague in the event space, she and I went out to market and we met a lot of wedding and event planners and really, we told our brand story. We got very connected to our community. One of the, the really important things about our company is that we are family run. And we are extremely service-driven driven and we want our customers to feel like they can reach out to us at any time. So that’s always been a huge part of it.
So without meeting our new customers saying thank you to the customers who worked with us in the past and even reintroducing ourselves to some that hadn’t worked with us in a while. So after we did all of that, we were growing at such a rapid rate that we had to add more. We had to add more to our team naturally. And we had put some things in more you know, buckets. So we, we had a specialty like niche sales people. And then COVID hit obviously. And so event sales transitioned from event sales to emergency services.
And so, you know, we were really lucky. We had a great, really diverse sales team coming from a lot of different backgrounds. I come from travel and hospitality and I recruited some former travel agents to come work, which was great. It’s a super qualitative selling skills, good skill set, I guess I would say. And they just really meshed perfectly. Our outside team did a phenomenal job. You know, it was hard to walk on sites back in the day. Our front line team did a great job and we can continue growing as a result of our response is there.
And then when the world opened up, we were more than ready for them. So that was, that was it. We just, we’ve been growing by leaps and bounds every year.
Wendy: That is an impressive tale for sure. And so you mentioned with COVID and you had to transition from the events to more response. What were the challenges with that with the team?
Kelly: Oh my gosh. Well, you know, I will say that like our team was, I’m so impressed and I’m so proud to this day of how brave they were. You know, we, we are based in the northeast on one of our largest markets is New York City and our, our frontline team was there, you know, days after things shut down, we were you know, supporting the Central Park Field Hospital, you know, as this, as history was unfolding on television, our people were there supporting it. So I, I would get emotional thinking about it because it was such an important time and our people were incredibly professional, incredibly brave. And, you know, I always talk about our service and our people as being the hallmark of our brand. And it was never more evident than in those moments where everyone was just at odds and so challenged to just live a normal life and they were showing up to work every day and our sales team was no, you know, no, no different. We just pivoted, we were there to answer the phone. We supported hospitals. It was just a, a really challenging but really important time in our company history and one that, you know, really, it showed what the, the quality of the people that we had working for us. And it was, just a really a really important time.
Wendy: That’s an impressive story as well. So how, during these challenges, how did you reward the staff, how did you keep morale up? How did you continue to rally the troops really as it were, to push through those challenging years? Two years?
Kelly: Right. Well, you know, we, we were, we’re a family-run company while most, most of us, except for the ones that are, you know, not blood-related. We feel like a family. And so we have, I think one of our things in our brand is that we have a good sense of humor, I think to be in this business, you kind of have to be, you have to have one rather. And you know, we, we joke amongst ourselves. We have a, an internal communication platform that we use. We certainly always try to recognize great great work. And, you know, it’s really important for us to, to be able to recognize our frontline team. So we are constantly asking our customers how we did and when we get specific feedback about an employee or sharing it or celebrating it, and we’re making sure that that is public, it’s a very public recognition so that everybody feels and everybody’s able to congratulate the person and really feel like, gosh, what a job well done.
And then I think when you see excellence, you strive for it and it’s really created a culture of, you know, just people who are very dedicated and feel a responsibility to do, you know, the next right thing.
Which leads me to, wonder what did, what have you seen from your own customers, the end user of everything, what have you seen from them over these past couple of years since you’ve had to pivot, you’ve had to rise to the occasion as it were sales teams, you know, the whole team has you, have your customers noticed that, have you, have you gotten a lot of feedback from them as to just the success and the accomplishments that you guys have put out there?
Kelly: Yeah, I think, you know, that we, we absolutely have, I think the best testament to a job well done is a referral. So, for us it’s, it’s come in the endorsement of our clients to other people. And I was just at a large festival a couple weekends ago over Labor Day weekend and one of the producers came over and she, it’s like, OK, we need to run down where you are again because I have this person who’s in this market. I have this person in this market and I talked to them about you and I want to make sure that like if you can do it, that you’re doing it for them.
So that’s, that’s been really, really huge and you know, that’s, that’s the way that our clients tell us that we’re continuing to do a great job is not only repeat, working with us, but put us, put our name out there in front of their other colleagues. And that’s been wonderful, to get a phone call or a text message and say, hey, you don’t know me, but this person said I can’t work with anybody else but you.
Wendy: That’s a really strong brand reputation and that’s pretty amazing. So, I guess where do you see it going from here? What’s the future for a ARF? And the strong sales, you know, inside, outside, in the, in the company?
Kelly: Yeah, I mean, I just want our team to continue to grow, to continue to be really nimble you know, what COVID presented to us was an opportunity to sort of, you know, get out of our comfort zones and, and change our way of thinking and our approach to the business. That really hard pivot, I think, you know, we were very successful with. So, you know, we’re looking for new and innovative products. We’re looking at new markets, we’re always looking for, you know, how we can continue to grow and continue to expand the brand.
Wendy: So Kelly, can you tell me a little bit about the sales structure at ARF?
Kelly: So we have an inside sales team and an outside sales team, each of which have a leader and then there are account executives that work with that leader. And the leader is shaping budgets and targets. And then we are also working within our geos.
So we may have people that live remotely to our headquarters that are actually in market and working in the outside space and then our inside team is working at our headquarters.
Wendy: So, so how long has that particular structure been in place since I, I got, I joined the company in 2000 and I think just a little bit before that too. But we’ve grown that team and we’ve grown just within our G OS obviously as well too as we continue to expand. So we’ve just been focusing more on the refinement of our team. The people that we’ve acquired to work in both on both sides of the, of the business inside and outside have come with, you know, a really varied background in sales and really good qualitative selling. And so we’re really, really pleased we have a really professional sales team that we’re proud of and we work on a sale cycle. That’s, that’s pretty tight. We’ve got a great CRM system and adherence to that. And, it’s wonderful.
Wendy: So, what advice would you give other operators out there who are either trying to strengthen their current sales team or, you know, really hone in on a sound structure for their company.
Kelly: Yeah, for, you know, a portable restroom company. I think one of the things that it’s, it’s how I came to the industry and it’s how I’ve brought on a lot of other people and we’ve hired other people since then is think outside the box in terms of the quality of the sales person and not be afraid to invest in some talent.
So while we have a great training program, and I’m really proud of that, having someone come to market and having someone come to the brand with a unique background, but somebody who’s not afraid to go out and, and sell and cold call or be sites or really kind of digging into someone’s background doesn’t have to be in the portable restaurant industry.
You know, I came from a background in travel and so I recruited in people from that industry and that’s a nonangle item, they were really used to qualifying heavily and, you know, coming into the toilet industry and coming to the portable restroom industry for those people that I brought across who really used to have to like work for. And then, you know, the conversion was never a guarantee this industry felt like, wow, this is, this is amazing. Like this is, this is such a, like an active engaged, I don’t wanna say easy selling because it’s not necessarily always easy. But by comparison, it was like, wow, this is like, this is how a selling process should like work fine on all cylinders. And, you know, we’ve just been looking at what that person brings to our table, what the candidate can bring to the table and bring to the brand.
So we’ve, we’ve brought on some really great talent from, you know, unique places and then we’ve continued to refine the people that we have. I mean, we keep them motivated. They are commission based. So, I mean, I think anybody that you bring into your business as a sales person and hopefully your sales leader needs to be hungry, needs to be willing to go out there and do the work. You know, if someone’s not grilling you on how they’re going to be compensated and what your incentive structure is like, then that’s usually a red flag for me when we’re looking at salespeople, you know, because if they’re not like, how am I gonna get? Where’s my ceiling? What I, you know, if there’s, if there’s not that hunger there, then you’re probably gonna you know, have some problems later on.
Wendy: So let’s touch on that a little bit. So let’s say you are, you know, navigating this with a sales team or, you know, certain folks within it and you’re running into that. So you’re, you’re sensing that perhaps the hunger is waning or, you know, not really there. How do you, how do you make the right decision to then maybe make some modifications to the sales team?
Kelly: Are you staying in the candidate process or in like they’ve already onboarded?
Wendy: Now, yeah, let’s say they’re already on boarded, they’ve got the buy in, you have, you know, ways to keep them motivated but you’re really starting to struggle in some spots. It’s probably important, you know, for people to realize that you’re gonna need to make some changes before there’s any detriment to the team in the process right?
Kelly: I think it’s really when you’re, when you’re working with, you know, a new sales person on your team and you’re, you’re starting to see, you know, maybe they’re not progressing as much as, or as fast as you’d hoped. Sort of going back to square one and seeing, you know, where, where are the roadblocks, you know? Did they come in training? Do they not have enough product knowledge? You know, I’ve worked with people who six months on have said I really don’t feel like I know enough about this thing in like, ok, well, you know, training is week one or day one. I’m going over all the skews and all the products maybe that was just a tough day. You’ve just filled out your benefits forms, you’ve just gone over all this stuff, like, you know, so going back to basics and sort of saying, all right, let’s go through it. Let’s, let’s really get in there.
I also think, you know, having that front, front line, firsthand experience is invaluable. So I feel like you can’t necessarily sell it unless you’ve been there, unless you’ve delivered it. You’ve seen a service. So get the person on, on some ride alongs, have them understand what that looks like, what that end product feels like. And you know, it’s always for us and for our brand, it’s about connecting people back to the service and back to our people.
Wendy: So speaking of the sales team, how do you measure the success of the sales team or the progress of how they’re doing? You know, what are your key performance indicators that you use?
Kelly: So we, I mean, the measure of success in almost anything is going to be growth, right? So we are looking at that through our, you know, our use of technology, oobviously our, our numbers, everything comes out, it’s people above profit, but we, we still need to make sure we’re moving in the right direction there in.
Wendy: Yeah, let’s talk a little bit about inbound and what role does the website play for the success of that?
Kelly: Yeah. No. So for our website, we have a really phenomenal marketing team that, that works on it as well as all of our social and everything too. It’s, there’s always an infusion of who we are as a company and really connecting you back to us, you know, family-run local, you know, in one of our markets, we are women owned. So we really try to always connect back to that. It’s also, you know, on our wedding and event site, it’s beautiful. You’re planning a gorgeous day and the most important day of your life. Coming to a landing page with a portable toilet, like a construction unit might not be the experience that you want, right?
So our marketing director has done a phenomenal job at just making sure that that website embodies who we are and you know, it’s the, the photographs of our units, you know, you’re not getting standard stock photos, we’re going in there and having them done. It’s just, it’s a really beautiful presentation.
I do love our social too, like I love our, our Instagram and our like some stories and some engagement and I think that’s great. I mean, it’s one of those things that, you know, we’re starting to see our numbers creep up and it just is another representation of who we are.
Wendy: Do you have any final thoughts to share with the audience about sales teams and marketing and websites and, and how to be the best you can be?
Kelly: I mean, I, I was really affected by, there’s a book by a woman named Lisa McLeod called Selling, With a Noble Purpose. And, you know, if you can approach sales with an understanding and a true belief that you’re out to change your customer’s life for the better. I think that it’s a game changer for your team. You know, this isn’t just transactional selling, it’s really impactful.
And I, as I spoke of with our emergency services and, and how our frontline team responded to the challenges of COVID. You know, I think when you look at all the things that we get to participate in infrastructure, you know, the, the most important day of someone’s life, the coolest music festival on the northeast, all that stuff and we get to be there and, and they can’t do it without us. You know, it’s pretty phenomenal.
And, you know, when I, I spoke before I left luxury travel for toilets and when I left the industry, you know, one of my mentors said, I can’t believe you’re leaving this glamorous life for toilets. And I mean, look at but it has been one of the best decisions I ever made and I’m really truly proud of the team that, you know, A Royal Flush, the leadership and I, and the people that, you know, support us what we’ve built and where we’re going and I think it’s just, you know.
Wendy: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks for joining us in the service course studio here. I know you’re going to tell everybody about it.
Kelly: Of course. I like the orange.
Wendy: I know. Perfect. Well, thanks again, Kelly.
Kelly: Thank you so much, Wendy.