What is ‘VAC’?

‘VAC’ is my acronym. It stands for ‘visibility, availability and credibility’, and refers to the need for a market manager (MM) to be on the market floor as frequently as possible.

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The fresh produce business is about relationships, and a market floor is probably the best place to observe relationships in action. Visit any market at around 6am on a busy day and you’ll see what seems to be utter chaos. In fact, when you begin to understand it, a market floor is more like ‘organised chaos’. There’s noise. There’s shouting and laughter. People and machines are moving about. There are smells and pleasant scents. And through all this apparent bedlam, business is being conducted.

You should find the MM moving serenely around the sales floor. They are not there to conclude deals, but to ensure the process of concluding deals runs as smoothly as possible. So they need to be on hand to observe what’s happening.  They will note that some products are in over-supply. They will see how pallet jacks and forklifts move products from the floor to the loading platforms, and this will help them understand the flow processes (assuming they exist!) on a market floor and the all-important need for safety. They will spot bottlenecks and talk to salespeople, buyers, market staff and even the occasional farmer. That’s the visibility part.

Being available is crucial, because when people see the MM, they can talk to them. It might be a grumpy buyer or market agent, or a staff member pointing out problems in infrastructure or systems. Whatever the reason, the MM is on hand to listen, discuss and, if need be, make a decision.

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When you add the first two components of VAC together, you get credibility. Because our intrepid MM is seen on the market floor on a regular basis and because they’re available to interact with people, they build credibility. This precious ‘commodity’ has to be earned, and what better way to do that than by being visible and available to your colleagues and clients? Being on the market floor is never going to be easy, but that’s why good market managers relish the challenge.

Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.