What Foodservice Can Learn from the Cubs Winning Streak

As I write this, my beloved Chicago Cubs are enjoying an unprecedented renaissance under groovy manager Joe Maddon. As a lifelong Cubs fan, decades of shattered hopes remind me to enjoy the moment and not worry about what comes next. But what amazes me about this team is not so much that they are winning but how they are winning. And it strikes me that their success this summer contains a few lessons applicable to the foodservice industry.

First, and foremost, there are no shortcuts on the road to building a successful enterprise. Businesses that want to get on top and remain there need to continually invest in their infrastructure and their people. The Cubs have done both in renovating Wrigley Field and building a new spring training facility in Arizona. Further, in recent years, the Cubs have invested heavily in their scouting, player development and farm systems. The net result is a depth of talent throughout the organization that’s the envy of Major League Baseball.

And the foodservice industry is starting to embrace this line of thought. Operators now see the value in continuing to invest in their restaurants via remodels. What used to be a 10-year or greater cycle for remodels has shrunk to every 3 to 5 years. Why? Well, the same store sales improvements these initiatives often generate make remodels worth the investment.

Technology plays a role here, too. Customer-facing technologies offer many opportunities for restaurants to boost sales, strengthen consumer relationships and even make better use of their resources. Make no mistake: implementing customer-facing technologies will impact how operators deploy labor, choose equipment and even design their restaurants. The operator community has just begun to realize these technologies can do more than make their operations seem forward-thinking or trendy. If handled correctly, this infrastructure can make their businesses stronger for years to come by introducing other efficiencies.

But the real aspect of the Cubs’ success that amazes me this summer is their ability to do simple better. Maddon sports this phrase on a t-shirt he regularly wears and the philosophy behind it is to encourage the players to approach things one game at a time. The same applies in the foodservice industry.

By focusing on the task at hand, executing the fundamental aspects of your business can lead to all-star caliber results. Trying to do too much or making things too complex can lead to errors that have a profoundly negative impact on a business and the foodservice industry is no exception. If, for example, an operator embraces a specific technology but can’t get the equipment serviced or the service agent can’t access the parts in a timely manner, the value of that item diminishes significantly.

For this summer, at least, the Cubs are playing inspired baseball. And the memories they provide and the lessons they teach us may just last a lifetime.

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