In the foodservice industry, professionals can fulfill their career goals and aspirations in a variety of ways. Growing up in the family business, Michael Hanson worked his way up through Bintz Restaurant Supply into his current sales specialist position.
He first joined Bintz nine years ago while going to school at the University of Utah. After graduating with a degree in business administration, he joined the company full time, first working in the warehouse, then in deliveries, before moving into sales five years ago. Hanson’s customer base was originally independent restaurants, but has transitioned to mostly smaller, emerging chains.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and with this career, it’s like I’m running my own business, only with 110 different bosses,” says Hanson.
FE&S spoke with Hanson about efficient kitchen design, balancing customer and supplier relationships and how he keeps current with today’s technology.
FE&S: In your own words, what does it mean when a restaurant has an efficient design?
MH: An efficient design means there is a good relationship between the front and back of house. In the kitchen, every inch should be utilized in some way, which may include positioning shelving up to the ceiling. Also, it’s important to condense the back of house as much as possible in order to expand the dining space. More customer seating equals increased revenue for operators.
FE&S: You’re known for having a good grasp of the more complex or technologically advanced pieces of foodservice equipment, such as combi ovens. How did you go about building your knowledge base and how do you maintain it?
MH: When I started in sales, the technology field was my specialty. I did the rounds with the sales team and talked about technology with the different types of new, improved and efficient equipment that was coming out. It’s what I focused on for two years. SEFA also helps me a great deal in terms of my training and developing concept knowledge in different areas. Also, I consult with others from the company as resources.
FE&S: You are known for being able to work equally well with customers and supply chain partners. How do you go about balancing everyone’s unique needs to create win-win scenarios?
MH: I’ve found that if you gain a relationship that isn’t just geared around selling, but also around providing an asset, the balance happens without effort. As long as customers feel you’re looking out for their best interests and needs, the rest takes care of itself.
FE&S: Successful equipment and supplies salespeople will proactively bring new ideas and solutions to their customers. Where do you go for this type of inspiration?
MH: I get many new ideas from reading FE&S. Also, SEFA is a great information source. When I go to its sales conferences, I come back with pages of customer-based notes. I bring these individual ideas to my clients. Many times they’re receptive.
FE&S: You have a degree in business administration. Why not pursue that line of work? What made you stay in this industry?
MH: Fortunately, my degree is applicable to any industry, including foodservice. I enjoy this business. There is a different problem every day. I feel that I can utilize my degree to help my customers be successful.