Information Zone

Unfortunately, while the quantity of information seems to be at an all-time high, the same can’t be said for the quality of information.

People often refer to the era in which we live as the Information Age and rightly so. Regardless of how you choose to access it — in print, online, on television or in person — there’s no shortage of opportunities to get information, and the foodservice equipment and supplies industry is no exception.

From newsletters, catalogs and magazines (like this one) to blogs, Twitter feeds and countless websites, there’s a wealth of content available to today’s foodservice professional. Unfortunately, while the quantity of information seems to be at an all-time high, the same can’t be said for the quality of information.

That was one of my takeaways from spending time with FE&S readers from various segments during the past few months. During my travels I asked consultants and operators about the ways dealers, manufacturers and other members of the supply chain could help them do their jobs better. One response was the most consistent: provide better access to technical information.

This seemed stunning to me in light of the fact that there’s seemingly no shortage of information available online these days and every dealership and rep firm I visit seems stocked to the gills with binders of product information. But the point that was made to me time and again was that consultants and operators want more access to the hard-and-fast facts about a product to help them determine what’s best for a given scenario. In other words, cut to the chase by outlining a product’s features and benefits in marketing materials, on websites and anywhere else a foodservice professional might access information.

The clear message was that sometimes the situation calls for access to more technical information or even to the engineers that helped develop the product. One group of consultants confided that more and better training for operators would be very helpful too. Of course, this is a two-way street. Not only should factories, reps and other members of the supply chain always strive to enhance their training offerings, operators need to emphasize the importance of training to their people and incent them to master working with the tools of their trade.

Now, we certainly don’t want to paint everyone with the same brush. Some companies do a better job than others when it comes to communicating and sharing information among trading partners. But you should not take for granted that your customers feel they have the information they need to do business with you. Having access to solid, actionable information about a product will only become more critical as the speed of the foodservice industry accelerates in the coming years.

Someone recently pointed out to me that for newcomers there’s no learning curve for the foodservice industry. Given how diverse the industry is and how unique so many operating scenarios can be, it’s more like a learning wall. And the hammer that can help newcomers and the most seasoned veterans break through that wall? Information.