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Outside Looking In…

By Steven Kent, C.E.O., MenuMax

As an outsider looking in on the Foodservice world, I am amazed at the enormity of the industry. Yet, I am humbled by its simplicity… food. With 30 years of distribution experience, the foodservice supply chain intrigues me with the movement of food from farm to table. There are hundreds of touch points, all with their own complex strategies.

Foodservice distribution resembles a street fight between foodservice representatives, fighting for finite business with the operator caught in the middle. In a recent IFDA/IFMA marketing meeting, the theme was “Truth and Transparency.” In this meeting, representatives from the entire foodservice supply chain came together to rediscover just who “owns the operator.” Does anyone own the operator? Alternatively, do we all not share in that operator’s success?

Ultimately, “butts in the seats” have little meaning if the foodservice operator is not profitable. Operators are looking to the likes of for help and it is costing them dearly, when their best resource walks through the door every week. Foodservice sales representatives can be the best resource for operator profitability when they are equipped with the right tools. The challenge is getting foodservice distributor organizations to adopt the technology and hand it off to their sales force.

It is when we realize that we must all become a part of the formula that we truly experience a successful foodservice operation.

2 comments to Outside Looking In…

  • Thanks for the insight Mark from the the distributor POV. All too often the rep is the order taker and not the solution provider the customer really wants and needs. To take orders is easy the hard part of the rep’s job is actually helping the operator grow his business. You don’t grow the operators business by taking bigger orders form them.

  • Those Foodservice reps that view and act as though they are in a fight with the competitor are a disservice to the restaurant operator. I like to think the best reps are “product related solution providers”, they understand the problems that restaurants face and prescribe solutions. Foodservice reps need to be relevant to their customers and understand the challenges they face.