Wal-Mart and NTR: An Inside Look (pt. 1)
NTR Systems' Jeremy Prescott Offers Tips on Working With Wal-Mart


  • Radio sales pros who are looking for a viable NTR partner are often drawn to Wal-Mart; this two-part article offers some inside tips on how to work with the retail giant.
  • The five potential Wal-Mart decision-makers you might deal with are the Region Manager, the District Manager, the Store Manager, the Sales Manager, and the Vendor.
  • Region Managers each oversee more than a hundred stores; District Managers oversee five to eight stores; Store Managers are in charge of a single store.
  • It’s important to enlist the support of the Store Managers in your NTR program. Even if the District Manager has okayed the program, Store Managers can still derail it.

Wal-Mart and NTR: An Inside Look (pt. 1)
NTR Systems' Jeremy Prescott Offers Tips on Working With Wal-Mart
Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part article by Jeremy Prescott, President of NTR Systems™, a full-service consulting firm that provides training and development of non-traditional revenue (NTR).

So you want develop more NTR revenue, and you’ve targeted Wal-Mart as a potential partner because you’ve heard they are a good retailer with whom you can execute a vendor program. Or maybe you’ve tried to work with Wal-Mart and your efforts were stalled. Whichever situation you may find yourself in, you’ll benefit from these inside tips on how to work with this retail giant.

There are five potential decision-makers you might be dealing with when developing ties to Wal-Mart:

  • Region Manager
  • District Manager
  • Store Manager
  • Sales Manager
  • Vendor

Region Manager
Region Manager (RM) is a corporate position. RMs travel into the field on Monday morning from Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, and return on Thursdays. They are in their offices on Friday and in meetings on Saturday. The kind of programs you can pitch them are going to be large — such as a $300,000 Boston Red Sox sponsorship if you happen to be the flagship station. Only a handful of Region Managers oversee the country. Each is responsible for more than a hundred stores. If you are in a top-10 market, maybe you should be talking to them, but don’t ignore the next level, the District Manager.

District Manager
The District Manager (DM) is where most everyone should make his or her connections. The typical DM oversees five to eight stores. There are two kinds of DMs: those who oversee Division 1 "general merchandise" stores and those who are in charge of Division 2 Supercenters. Supercenters also have a Food Merchandise Manager. Each region of the country is a little different. In the northeast, there aren’t that many Division 2 stores yet. Division 1 districts are separate from Division 2, which means you could conceivably have two different programs with two kinds of Wal-Mart stores. Once you locate the DM, find out how many stores he or she oversees. Then sew up three or four DMs for a total of 18-24 stores. This is how to set up a strong program from a vendor perspective.

A District Manager is paid on profit. So it stands to reason that if you can add traffic and customers as a result of your promotion he/she will listen to you, especially if the vendors will be paying for it. The District Manager typically holds a meeting of all his/her store managers on or about the first Friday of each month. After an initial meeting with the DM, get yourself invited to this meeting so you can earn acceptance from the store managers too. District Managers are on the road constantly. They leave a daily voice message on a special voice-mail number for their store managers, explaining where they will be that day and giving sales info for the previous day.

The District Assistant is also a key person. Make the District Assistant your best friend. He/she knows where the DM will be and can convey information to the DM. District Managers can, if they want to, purchase product at the district level by issuing a purchase order number to the vendor. Sometimes you can secure this for the vendor. Most often it will be for DSD products, but in some cases I have seen it occur for warehoused products as long as it is self-contained (e.g., in a shipper). You might ask the vendor if they have a shipper that can be sold in on a district basis.

Store Manager
The Store Manager is a key person. He/she decides what happens in his/her store, no matter what the DM decides. Store Managers have a high degree of decision-making authority and can sandbag a program even if the DM has approved it. This can make vendors unhappy, so make certain you speak with the Store Managers at a district meeting, a store visit, or at least on the phone. Getting a signature from the DM (and hopefully the store managers) is the ideal way to go about ensuring compliance. Get the DM to sign off on the program when you attend the District Meeting and get the Store Managers to sign off too. Store Managers have very short memories. If you have a signature on a program, a vendor can’t be turned away. On occasion, a vendor’s driver has come into the store only to be told "nope, we’re not taking that product," because the Store Manager forgot or did not explain to the Asst. Store Manager what the commitment was. A signed letter ensures that the driver will be allowed to deliver the product.

Part Two will deal with the roles played by the Sales Manager and Vendor and explores the steps involved in putting your program together.