Throughout American history, we have celebrated the innovation and ingenuity employed by everyone from the pioneers to the patriots in shaping our country. These people used what they had at their disposal to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds en route to achieving their goals and objectives.
In contrast, just a few generations later, when you ask someone to do more with less, they seem to look at you with the same look in their eyes that my two-year-old daughter Grace gets when I tell her to eat her vegetables. And for those of you not fortunate enough to be at the dinner table with me each night, let's just say those conversations are neither pretty nor rational — and leave it at that.
Nobody likes to make cuts out of necessity, but there is value in taking a close look at your business and finding ways to make improvements. We need to move beyond the knee-jerk reaction of thinking that the only way to solve a business challenge is to throw piles of cash at it. Collectively, we need to invest more time in researching solutions to our challenges, looking for ways to address them with the two most potent tools we all have: knowledge and experience.
As luck would have it, the foodservice industry is loaded with examples of how various segments have been able to accept challenges and adapt their businesses.
In response to tighter capital constraints and growing expectations, foodservice operators are becoming more creative and innovative in their approaches. From developing more flexible foodservice platforms that evolve with customers' needs during the course of the day to investing more time to further hone their staffs' customer service skills to developing more efficient layouts and designs, foodservice operators continue to find ways to meet expanding expectations (page 30).
Similarly, our 2011 DSR of the Year, Scott Taylor of TriMark United East, uses his product knowledge and his vast industry experience from his years as a dealer sales rep and as an operator to address a series of customer concerns in his expansive New England territory (page 22). In doing so, Taylor works within the parameters defined for him by his customers and his company, regularly balancing the needs of both.
If handled correctly, the challenge to do more with less can make a business stronger because it forces the organization to focus on its strengths and, hopefully, toss aside other tasks that are not part of its core competency. For example, in the case of a foodservice operator, doing more with less can mean focusing on core menu items and other best sellers while eliminating the ones that don't sell or are not as profitable.
When management asks employees to do more with less, the goal should not be to cut for the sake of cutting. Rather, it should be to create a leaner, more flexible organization focused on meeting customer demands. At the end of the day, we are the only ones with the power and capabilities to lead our companies into a brave new world of profitability and away from the tyranny of an unpredictable business climate.