Velvet Ice Cream, a fourth-generation family-owned company that manufactures premium ice cream, sherbet and novelties in Utica, Ohio, said it is integrating a progressive sales practice. The practice is turning double-digit growth in markets in which it was implemented. 

The new Pre-Sell Direct-Store-Delivery (DSD) model was implemented simultaneously in the Louisville, K.Y., and Indianapolis markets in October 2019. It immediately created the need to hire additional employees and expand the sales team in the region, Velvet said. The new sales model will be integrated across the Velvet footprint, with Cleveland set to transition In March followed by the Cincinnati market in April.

“Velvet is over 100 years old. Change is not always easy, and it can be especially difficult to abruptly shift something as vital to our business as our sales model,” said Velvet CEO Luconda Dager. “But the immediate positive impact of this new Pre-Sell model for our company, our employees, our retail partners and ultimately our loyal consumers is something the entire team is able to get behind.

“We’re excited to roll this out to the rest of our markets and continue to strategically grow the footprint for one of the finest, most premium brands in the industry,” she added.

The high touch Pre-Sell DSD model integrates several factors that affect the dynamics of what products the stores purchase and stock based directly on local consumer preferences, Velvet noted. 

“We’ve found just the right mix of new technology and old-fashioned customer care to create a model that is creating a ripple effect in our sales and brand loyalty,” Dager said.

Under the old sales model, Velvet drivers were responsible for stocking shelves, as well as interfacing with retail employees to determine product needs, Velvet noted. Often the stores themselves were not in a position to understand exactly how much and what specific products were needed, resulting in a sub-optimal product mix and potential shortages in best-selling flavors such as Buckeye Classic and the company’s three vanilla flavors.

By April, 2020, this new model projects as many as 17 additional full-time, sales-focused employees that are solely responsible for shelf conditions, determining product freshness and popularity in individual retail locations, then using the latest technology in tablets and software to better understand the needs of the stores and ensure the best possible assortment and in stock rate. Velvet said it hopes to have this new model fully implemented in all major markets by the fourth quarter of 2020, adding as many as 30 full time positions companywide.