Creamery, ZCoBbers, ZingLife

Selling Cheese and Gelato is Pure Poetry to this ZCoBber

ZCoBber Tom Dutton at the Creamery

ZCoBber Tom Dutton at the Creamery

Sure, we think the cheese and gelato that we make at Zingerman’s Creamery is top notch, but to our Wholesale Representative Tom Dutton, it’s pure poetry. New to the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB), Tom has come up with a creative way to woo customers and, of course, sell more of our great products: he writes them poems.

Here’s a sampling:

We have cheese for your taste buds to please
Some are smooth and some are bolder
The fresh ones are new
The aged ones are older
If you think you might need any cheese
Get in touch with me please.

Our Gelato is great
In a bowl but not on a plate
If Gelato is what you seek
We can get you some this very week
By phone or email
I’ll be here without fail.

Tom originally got the idea during “Art of Giving Great Service in Writing”, one of the training classes offered to ZCoBbers. The trainer told a story about a customer who had written a complaint in poem form and a staff member followed suit with the reply. “I told him it seems kind of risky to me, but he said if you pick your spots and be careful, it could be okay,” says Tom.

Inspired, he decided to give it a try for a promotion—the result was very positive, and as he puts it, “the phenomenon began.” Not long after, he found himself in a rhyming “duel” with one of the Creamery’s customers, Ellie Mullins from Local, a fantastic shop in New Buffalo, Michigan that specializes in sustainable foods and cured meats:

Ellie to Tom:

Sorry for the delay.
The holidays have me in such array!
What days next week could we receive some fresh cheese?
Thinking of some mozzarella and pimento please!
A ten pound tub and a case should suffice.
You should barely have to pack them with ice.
It’s frigid out there!
Be sure to take care!

Tom to Ellie:

Evidently you’re on a roll
you know impeccable service is my main goal
Any day you’d like it’s a normal week
I’m so happy our cheese is what you seek
You need ten pounds of pimento
I’ll have an order uno momento
You said you might need Mozzarella too
how much exactly can I get for you?

When we asked Ellie why she enjoys corresponding this way with Tom, she answered in rhyme. “Most orders are mundane, day to day can be a pain/It’s fun to think out of the box and write with a friend a poem that rocks/It brings a little joy to a task that gives everyone a little laugh,” she wrote.

Tom agrees and says he thinks taking this unconventional route has helped him strike up friendships with  customers and move beyond being “your average salesperson.” “The reaction has been tremendous throughout the ZCoB and with the customers. I have customers that actually request them! A lot of them say they look forward to them every week,” says Tom. “I think when you get busy with your day-to-day, and something amusing or funny comes by with the normal work you’re already doing, it can be surprising, amusing or even good for a laugh.”

Tom has been writing poems since he was a kid. He was first recognized for his skills in elementary school, and he’s never stopped. Rap was his medium in high school, and when he met his wife, she became an inspiration. These days, he’s using his rhyming talents to collaborate with his songwriting partner Chuck Swanagon. Performing under the name Chuck & Tom, they have a large catalogue of songs and have plans to release an album soon.

Want to order some cheese or gelato for you restaurant, cafe, or retail shop? Write to [email protected]