On the shop floor with Yvonne O’Neill

Feb 20, 2020

The very nature of the work we do at FMI, in order to deliver for our clients,  means that we rely on a huge number of people in the field and on the shop floor to show up and to professionally engage with retailers and customers  to execute the client brief.  At FMI we know that these people are our strength, and throughout this year we will be profiling some of the standout people who help power our performance. Their roles are varied, spread across the country, and the tasks that they execute differ from client to client, however what unifies them is their unwavering reliability and utter professionalism and commitment to doing a great job.

This month we speak to Yvonne O’Neill who has been with FMI for the last 6 years doing a variety of promotional activities and who is currently our lead food demonstrator in the Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt store.

Tell us about how you started at FMI?

What started out as a stand-in favour to a friend soon became a frequent engagement with FMI. I had a friend who was working for FMI and she called and asked me to help her out on a project. Once the team got to know me and liked my work, they kept booking me for various roles.  I now work Thursday to Sunday at Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt doing in-store promotions.

What do you enjoy about your role?

What I love about the role is that you get to be out and about speaking to customers. I love working with team members who are new to the role and seeing them transition from being nervous beginners to seeing them develop in their roles to the stage where they enjoy engaging with the customers. Over the years you build up relationships with the customers in-store.  It is lovely to see family transitions, from families being pregnant, to having their babies, and then as the kids grow up, perhaps with them too– so It is possible to build up a really good relationship with customers.  In store there is also a general level of trust and support between the managers, so good working relationships are also forged between members of staff and the team, which works to everyone’s advantage.

 What in your experience is the best approach to making sales?

Over the years I realised  that the more conversational you are the more likely you will get an opportunity to drop the relevant selling points into the conversation. Representing the brand on the shop floor means that customers value your opinion. I always ensure that I have read the brief and that understand what I am selling. I also believe that the stand is not a shield, coming out from behind the stand and chatting to customers in a natural manner has a significant impact on making the customers feel at ease which makes it more likely that they will make a purchase.

Irish customers enjoy the banter, they will support local produce and love anything that goes for half price. Personalisation and “freebies ” always do well. For tastings the food always needs to be fresh and hot to make it the most appealing for customers to want to try. It goes without saying that the service area needs to be clean and the presenters need to look smart and professional.

How have things changed over time you have been doing instore demonstrations?

Over the years we have seen the scale and sophistication of demonstrations increase significantly. We often used to have to set up the stand and pack it down at the end of the day. The stands today are often fixed stations that are well kitted out. Brands have become a lot more professional and the general standard and complexity of the promotions have increased significantly.  Due to the increased focus on legal requirements regarding ingredients, such as potential allergens, the training we receive now is a lot more detailed.

The means of reporting has also improved dramatically. Technology enables us to upload reports and feedback easily. We do all the reporting through the “Get Wise” app, we check in and check out and do our reports and provide client feedback through the app.

What is the biggest challenge in your role:

The challenges vary from day to day, but the constant benchmark has got to be the strict legal requirements particularly around allergens. You need to know your products and be informed.  We are also not permitted to serve anyone under the age of 12 without parental supervision, in case of choking.

 Why do you enjoy working for FMI:

The team at the head office are very fair. They want to ensure that you do a good job for their clients, but they are very supportive and there is always someone willing to help. There is never a problem that is not solvable. I have got to know the team on a personal level, they often come down to the store to see us, which is a great support.