Five Good Projects for Wholesaler-Distributor Summer Interns - 2018 Edition

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 8:00:00 AM

Categories: Management

By Mark Tomalonis
Principal, WarehouseTWO, LLC

Nationally, unemployment is at an historically low level.  That is good news.  But it also means that finding and attracting talent is harder.  An effective way to "test drive" potential entry-level employees is first to hire them as summer interns.

Rather than have them do work normally assigned to full-time employees, assign one-time projects to them.  The benefits are that they will feel a sense of accomplishment during their brief internship, and you will get something valuable done that your full-time employees have not had time to get to.

For two perspectives on hiring summer interns, read these articles:

For the past four years, we have offered a list of five projects suitable for summer interns.  Here are the lists from 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Here are five good projects for 2018 that you can assign to a summer intern.

I.  Expose your surplus inventory to the world:  WEB MARKET and eBay.

When did you last try something different to turn surplus inventory into cash?  This article has three suggestions on how to expose your surplus inventory to the internet.  Any one of them could be a one-time project for an intern.  We think that WarehouseTWO's WEB MARKET function is the easiest way to expose surplus inventory to internet searches.  Still, you ought to try all three suggestions in the article.  If you never have posted surplus items at eBay, start here.

II.  Purge invalid ("bounced") email addresses from your email marketing database.

If your company does any email marketing, chances are that some email addresses in your contact database are invalid.  People change jobs.  Email addresses are entered incorrectly.  Thus, your database must be cleaned up periodically.  This project may entail on-line investigation or calling contacts' companies to determine if the contact still works there.  (A company's receptionist is an easy-to-get-to, knowledgeable source to help determine whether the contact still works there.)

 III.  Clean up your customer and prospect contact database in your CRM.

How current and clean are the contacts in your company's customer relationship management ("CRM") database.  Using on-line resources such as LinkedIn and ZoomInfo, or by simply visiting a customer's website, an intern can harvest current names, titles, addresses and phone numbers to add to your CRM or direct mail marketing, database.

IV.  Automate Inventory Data Uploads to WarehouseTWO.

Yes, we have included this in previous lists of summer intern projects.  Still, it is worthy of including it here again.  Offering your inventories to an audience of peer wholesaler-distributors at WarehouseTWO can result in increased revenue, and perhaps in conversion of some surplus inventory into cash.  Doing this is one of those “it took five years and one hour to complete” projects.

Surely your company's ERP system software has data extraction or report generation capabilities.  The more current the ERP system, the more flexible the data extraction tool is.  If you have the tools and if you hire a fast-learning, computer-literate intern, teach him/her the basics of how to create a data extraction report, and how to schedule it.  Next, let the intern figure out how to create a custom report that extracts desired inventory data.  Then have the intern follow these step-by-step instructions to push the report file to WarehouseTWO's FTP server.  Sound overwhelming?   Contact us.  We will explain the scope of this project and how to tackle it.

V. Teach your sales people how to use WarehouseTWO's mobile-friendly pages.

Help your field sales people be more effective in front of customers, when discussing availability of what the customer wants.  That is, they ought to be able to browse the inventory available at WarehouseTWO from their smart phones.  While we think that WarehouseTWO's mobile-friendly SEARCH page and associated functionality is fairly intuitive, a little hand-holding training is always nice.

First, teach an intern how to use WarehouseTWO's mobile-friendly pages.  Then have him/her teach your sales people.  The intern ought to create a training syllabus, training materials ("PowerPoint" slides?) and a post-training exam to validate the training.

A bonus:  while the intern is training your sales people, they can provide feedback on how well the intern communicates in a business environment.

To learn more about WarehouseTWO's mobile-friendly pages, first have the intern study our SEARCHMULTI-SEARCH and BROADCAST REQUEST features.  Then have him/her read about WarehouseTWO's mobile-friendly pages.

About the Author
After a successful career in sales and operations management in the wholesale-distribution industry, Mark Tomalonis is now principal of WarehouseTWO, LLC.  He amuses himself by writing articles, such as this one, to help wholesaler-distributors execute their operations better.  Mark’s articles and tips are published in WarehouseTWO’s monthly e-newsletters.  Click here to subscribe.

About WarehouseTWO
WarehouseTWO, LLC is an independent “inventory-sharing” service created exclusively for durable goods manufacturers and their authorized distributors, and for any group of durable goods “peer” wholesaler-distributors, such as members of a buying/marketing group or cooperative.  To learn how inventory-sharing with WarehouseTWO can help your business, visit the WarehouseTWO website, or email