From now until Memorial Day, hardly a week will go by without a foodservice-related association hosting a conference for its members. Undoubtedly, these events will include some conversation about recruiting and retaining younger employees and, in the case of events hosted by members of the foodservice equipment and supplies community, there will be plenty of banter about what ails the supply chain.
Later, over cocktails at yet another buffet-based meal, everyone will remark about how the industry needs to address these issues before the conversation inevitably turns to the day’s golf scores. Before long, the conference attendees will return back to their jobs with the memory of these conversations slowly fading as their day-to-day responsibilities bubble to the forefront of their minds.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it is one that has been repeating itself for quite some time. One would think, given all the conversation that regularly takes place surrounding these topics, the foodservice industry would have some progress to report. Outside of a few notable exceptions, though, the foodservice industry appears stuck in neutral in this regard.
With respect to recruiting younger professionals, the rather easy-to-follow recipe is as follows: Show up at colleges and universities to recruit future associates, speak nicely about your business and all it has to offer and be ready to invest in unproven talent as it may take them a little while to generate a positive return. The only question that remains is whether you and your company can stomach the process.
Those companies with an appetite for such a process can achieve impressive results. Look no further than Clark Associates, FE&S’ 2015 Dealer of the Year. Last year, they realized a 42 percent sales increase and the company shows no signs of slowing down. (To see the results of FE&S’ 2016 Distribution Giants study, see page 36) The secret to their success? Finding talented young people, tapping into their passion and letting them grow the business by providing value on the customers’ terms. It’s that simple.
With respect to the challenges the supply chain faces, much Scotch whiskey has been spilled while trying to address them. Yet here the industry is trying to resolve the same tired challenges. If the supply chain does not take the steps necessary to enhance the value it provides and become more effective and efficient in its own right, someone will step into its place.
Realizing this, a trio of rep firms formed an alliance named Paradigm (page 104) in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve. They worked collaboratively to develop a structure that they feel will better serve their many customer constituencies and companies better. Only time will tell if their efforts were the right approach. But they are to be commended for trying to affect change instead of waiting for it to happen to them.
Hopefully you will embrace a similar philosophy in shaping the future of your business.