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Foodservice: The Impenetrable Dinosaur

By Steven Kent, President,  MenuMax

Has that much changed since Henry Heinz sold horseradish and pickles in Pittsburg? Think about it, the warehouses are bigger, the trucks faster, freezers colder, and the speed to market is overnight. But have there been fundamental changes in how foodservice goods are sold into the market place? I’m sure Henry had a customer loyalty program for his best customers; you know the, “buy a case of pickles and get a case of horseradish.” So customer loyalty programs really haven’t changed in 141 years.

The first transcontinental phone call was not until 1915. So customer communications between Henry and his customers were face-to-face along his route. Sound familiar? Mobile phones really helped out when they were introduced in 1960 so sales reps could stay on the road and not have to hang out at the pay phone along the face-to-face route. All things being equal, gasoline in 1960 was $0.31 cents for regular grade and milk was $0.49 a gallon.

My point is, the foundations of the way foodservice sales are conducted today have not changed since at least 1960, and business growth is measured by consolidation, one distributor consuming another distributor. Industry leaders project new technology projects like the GS1 initiative, to take at least six years to complete in the foodservice sector. Life in six years will be entirely different than it is today and the technology will again be archaic. The industry needs to step up the speed of technology adoption or lie down beside Tyrannosaurus Rex and call it a day.

New and more efficient means of customer loyalty lie in today’s technology. New and innovative sales communications between rep and operator are here. And the most import part of all, these new technologies possess the truth and transparency needed to promote the operator’s business. And that is how true growth is measured.

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