For foodservice industry veterans, it can be easy to adopt a “been there, done that” attitude when it comes to training. If you have seen one fryer you have seen them all, right? Wrong.

IMG 1263I have been in the foodservice industry for, well, let’s just say my career spans a number of U.S. presidential terms and leave it at that. But, even after all of these years, I know I need more training. There’s always something more and something new coming. Did we ever think induction would get to where it is today? And where is this technology headed tomorrow?

That’s the beauty of the foodservice industry: if you have a creative mind and work hard the sky is the limit. But just like any other professional from any other industry, you have to put in the time and commit to training to make yourself a good living.

If that applies to an industry veteran how do you think that might relate to the frontline personnel in the foodservice industry? We invest heavily in training in all levels of our organization. Lots of people sell things so we have to differentiate ourselves by adding value and the only way we can do that is through educating our people on the street.

Good distributor sales reps have to know a lot these days. They have to know every type of equipment, smallwares, paper goods and more. There are a lot of different types of equipment and if you want to do right by a customer you have to know what a piece of equipment can and can’t do.

We are fortunate to be part of a buying group that places such a strong emphasis on training. In fact, earlier this year, SEFA picked up the tab for 55 DSRs to attend The NAFEM Show, rewarding their growth with a chance to further their professional development.

Our DSRs attend SEFA Pro Training events and afterward they come back to train their colleagues at an upcoming company meeting. Reps and factories often come into the dealership and visit with the principals and the purchasing department but they don’t interact with the folks on the street. Our participation in SEFA Pro Training events helps facilitate this type of interaction.

And we are able to participate in plenty of other factory training opportunities as a result of the contacts we make at these events. When you take a distributor sales rep or consultant to training, they bond with that factory and that turns the relationship profitable for both. That’s because people buy from and work with people they like and feel they can trust.

We always thought it would take three years to get a DSR up and running. But by using training, we can cut that time down by a year. That’s going to save a lot of money.

It’s all about return on investment today. The faster an employee is successful today the faster the return — and that applies to all segments of the foodservice industry, not just the dealer community.