Trip Wheeler of SB Value: “Seeing Light at the End of the Tunnel; 5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”
Work harder than everyone else: We all have different abilities, and you can’t change that. But we can all work hard and working hard can make up for a lot of missing abilities. If you outwork your competition you will show up first and leave last: you will do more than asked; you will try harder to improve where you are weak; you will improve faster. In short, you will be more valuable to your employer and coworkers, which means they will know they can count on you
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Trip Wheeler.
Trip Wheeler is the President of SB Value, a group purchasing program designed to reduce catering, kitchen and food-service costs by leveraging the collective buying power of thousands of companies.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I was brought up in sports and worked in the sector for 20 years, but I’ve always been in sales. Every sales job has taught me something. Some were horrible jobs but they taught me how NOT to sell. Then there were others that taught me that sales is about helping people — at least that’s what it should be.
And the jobs where it allowed me to help people significantly are the jobs where I learned to LOVE sales. It’s not about selling anything, it’s about providing people with solutions to their problems. So after 20 years, I learned to look for jobs that will allow me to help people — jobs that have a product or service that will really make a difference in people’s lives.
About seven years ago, I found Premier. I had never heard of a GPO before. But once I realized that I could help people buy exactly what they are currently buying but save significantly with no downside, I told myself: “This is it! Partner with Premier and bring this service to anyone that will listen.” And the rest is history.
We’ve been telling the Premier story ever since. So far we have more than 1,000 clients that every time they buy, they save money. I love that. And when a client calls and says they had a record year because they moved to our program, that makes me smile.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Well, it would be a bunch of books and a bunch of advice. Here are a few that are my favorites and what I learned:
My father taught me three big things: be creative, work harder than your competition and be honest. Those three things made my father very accomplished as the most successful promoter in NASCAR’s history.
- Creativity: My dad was always about, “What can I do to get people to talk about what I am trying to sell?” It was genius. Do something is so outrageous that everyone will talk about your idea for you. It was free advertising. Hell, it was social media before there was social media. My father is, in a word, outlandish. The more cringeworthy the idea to me, the more successful it was because it was different, unique and noteworthy. He is larger than life and people paid attention. He did anything and everything to stand out. Here are some examples:
- My dad wanted to get kids interested in attending a race in October just after school opened. So he got 10 school buses and promoted that he was going to blow them up. Kids loved it because they hated going back to school.
- His biggest race was on Memorial Day, so in honor of the troops, he did a military show with all the coolest military equipment (Blackhawks, tanks, B1 bombers, etc.) and put on a show. People like the pre-race show as much (or more) than the race itself.
- He had a race called the Winston and the sponsor, RJR, wanted to move the race to another track to create excitement. Keep in mind, this was in the ’90s before there were any tracks with lights. People thought that the idea of lights on a Superspeedway was impossible. My dad said, “What if I light the track and have the Winston at night?” and RJR agreed. There was only one problem — no one had ever lit a superspeedway and he had to figure out how to do it. In the end, they pulled it off and the race is still at my dad’s track 30 years later.
- Here is a simple example for me as a kid: I was out of college looking for a job and he saw me printing my resumes on beautiful cream colored paper. He told me to print mine on pink and send each one by courier. This way everyone will remember my resume and I would stand out.
- On a similar note, I wanted a job but was young and unproven. My dad said, “Tell the boss you’ll work for free for 30 days,” knowing that no other 20 year old would offer that, and it worked.
- Work harder than everyone else: We all have different abilities, and you can’t change that. But we can all work hard and working hard can make up for a lot of missing abilities. If you outwork your competition you will show up first and leave last: you will do more than asked; you will try harder to improve where you are weak; you will improve faster. In short, you will be more valuable to your employer and coworkers, which means they will know they can count on you.
- Be honest: we all make mistakes, every single one of us. Admit it and move on. And when you make a mistake, fix it the right way. I have screwed up as much as anyone, but by admitting the mistake early on, it ends the fight quickly. And by fixing it the right way you earn the respect of your employers, peers and customers because you did the right then when most don’t. Some of my best business relationships were born out of a mistake that was handled correctly. Joe Gibbs once told me, “I will make mistakes. I just hope you judge me by how I remedy the mistake and not the mistake itself.”
- Roger Penske: Penske was testing at a track I worked at when I was 22. I walked in to make sure they had what they needed. The room had 25+ people in it including Rusty Wallace, engineers, mechanics, etc. Roger Penske saw me, I saw him excuse himself from his conversation and he walked right up to me and introduced himself. As we talked, I realized he just wanted to say hello and get to know me. I was blown away by the fact that a man of this stature would take his time to meet a young nobody like me. It taught me humility and that we all matter, no matter if you are the CEO or the custodian. We are all the same.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Know that the initial shock has worn off and most of us are in full action mode. The last couple of months have been filled with cancellations, revenue loss, layoffs, and survival plans. We’re coming together and supporting each other now more than ever.
- You have time, so use it proactively. Look at where you are — what are your goals? You can’t set a destination if you don’t know where you are or where you want to go. Think about where you are personally, not just business-wise.
- This is a learning experience that put a lot of things in perspective. You can begin to eliminate things that aren’t allowing you to be efficient or productive.
- If possible, use this as an opportunity to perform a SWOT analysis for your business. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will put you in control of your situation, and you’ll be on the right path to recovery and stability.
- Once you’ve identified your strengths, you know that you can rest easy in those areas knowing that you’re on the right track. And similarly for your weaknesses or opportunities — you’ll know exactly where you should be focusing your efforts instead of feeling helpless
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- One of the easiest things you can do for someone feeling anxious right now is to just reach out to them with a quick phone call, text, or email. The smallest gestures go a long way!
- Offer to be their go-to when they need a check-in, whether that’s with their mental health, business efforts, or otherwise.
- Help them in areas where they may be struggling. If possible, lend a hand when it comes to running essential errands, or assist with any projects that might need an unbiased eye. Knowing that they have someone on their team can ease their anxiety.
- Have food, beer or wine delivered to them from local restaurants or caterers. Not only will you be supporting your friend, colleague, or relative, but you’ll be putting your extra pennies toward a business that really needs it.
- Make a donation to an organization or worthy cause in their name.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
For many of our colleagues and fellow small business owners that are struggling and feeling anxious about their finances, we’ve recommended doing research on resources such as SBA loans that are able to help weather the storm. Additionally, there are plenty of educational resources and webinars that we’ve had the pleasure of working on and seeing our peers in the industry take part in. A lot of these topics include ways to audit your business expenses, how to set yourself on the path to recovery once this is over, and more relevant talking points that address many of the concerns that we collectively have as a community.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” — Henry Ford
Your mindset is everything. If you have the confidence that you can accomplish something, you give yourself the best chance at success. Life is hard and business is hard. If you think running a 262 mile marathon is impossible, it is. But if you think you can do it, you can. And the truth is, these are hard times. But if you agree that this is the end of your business, you are right because you aren’t going to do the things to get it back on track. We will emerge from this crisis like we have from many others (great depression, WWI, WWII, 9/11, etc.), but if you are not an active participant in the turnaround you will fail.
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill
I worked in corporate America for 20 years, and I have a lot of respect for how easy it is to be an employee working for someone else who is taking all the risk. But now that I own my own business, I am forever impressed by every business owner, especially one that started from scratch.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
In a time where cost savings is incredibly important for many business owners that are trying to pinch their pennies, I would encourage caterers and others in the industry to research GPOs. Again, there’s no risk in doing so, and likewise, the quality of your services will not be compromised. This is such an easy way to save thousands of dollars every year (even every quarter), and it can make a huge difference in someone’s budget.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
www.wegrowvalue.com / Instagram: @wegrowvalue
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!