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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Labor Lessons

Real growth continues to be hard to come by for the foodservice industry. In fact, overall customer traffic was flat through the first quarter of 2016, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm covering the foodservice industry. Revenues and customer traffic may be inching along, but one area growing at breakneck speed is labor costs.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Post NRA Thoughts: My Labor Costs are Killing Me! What Can I do About It?

The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show has come and gone to much fanfare. From what I saw and read, the participation was phenomenal. We were able to bring our full consulting team from all of our offices and even made time to break some bread together.  This year, I also participated in a panel discussion that explored unit economics  and was moderated by Steve Romaniello, managing director of Roark Capital.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Study Projects Compound Growth Rate for U.S. Foodservice Market

Restaurant sales in June were slower than in May. A new report looks for foodservice to grow 3.33 percent in the next 5 years. A C-store chain says it will open at least 600 locations in the next few years. Taco Bell expands their Cantina concept. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice.

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Highlights

Says Who? - Mark Freeman, Part 2

A 30-plus year veteran of the foodservice industry, Mark Freeman is senior manager of employee services for Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash., where he oversees dining service which conducts 50,000-plus transactions per day. Since assuming this role in 2005, Freeman has instituted a campus-wide recycling and composting program as well as a major software upgrade, swapped the disposables used for on-site dining and catering with a more eco-friendly, biodegradable product, and opened up online forums where Microsoft employees could offer feedback, a move that has dramatically improved customer satisfaction. He’s also helped upgrade the quality of all beverages and meals served, including at kiosks and retail outlets. Prior to Microsoft, Freeman has worked for Saga, a contract feeder, and most recently as a consultant for Porter Consulting.

sayswho_background Mark Freeman

FE&S: What aspect of your career gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment?

Mark Freeman: Where I’m at right now is trying to stay connected to the industry, but also give back in a volunteer type of way. I’m on the board of the community college I mentioned earlier, and I’m also active in SFM (Society for Foodservice Management) – I serve on the board as treasurer.

FE&S: What type of charitable activities are you involved in?

Mark Freeman: Other than serving as a board as mentioned, once in a while, I’ll participate in a food drive, and my wife and I are really active in WorldVision, another nonprofit where my daughter works.

FE&S: If you were not working in foodservice, what would you be doing?

Mark Freeman: I’m a sailor so I would be sailing in some warm climate somewhere. I am from Seattle and it rains here a lot. I spent some time sailing in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean so that’s what I’d be doing. Get a big boat and some sun.

FE&S: How did you get into sailing?

Mark Freeman: Seattle is the mecca for sailing and there are great opportunities around Puget Sound so it was the natural thing to do. My wife and I joined a sailing co-op and as part of that went through U.S. sailing training. We earned how to sail and do it quite a bit. This club charters boats for sailing around the world. We sailed the Greek Isles for a while. A month ago we got back from Belize where we chartered a boat and went out into the Caribbean.

FE&S: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the foodservice industry?

Mark Freeman: It’s the actual public that’s always challenging. It can be fun and not so fun, but it seems like there’s always an excitement to it because you never know what people are going to say or do.

FE&S: Finish this sentence: Nobody knows I...

Mark Freeman: I actually weave pine needle baskets (Freeman laughs) – well I don’t do it under water. I got into it when I bought a package early on for my wife out of the blue at a craft store, but she wasn’t too excited about it so I ended up picking it up and loved it. On my days off I like to watch football and weave baskets (laughs again). It’s kind of funny, but it’s really therapeutic. It lets me work with my hands and frees my mind from work and escape for a bit.

FE&S: When traveling for business, what is one of your favorite past times?

Mark Freeman: I like to eat at local restaurants, not at chains or the big hotels when I’m traveling. I like to get out and experience the local fare - sometimes you bump into some scary things - but more often than not it’s much more interesting and exciting.

FE&S: Knowing what you now know, would you still pursue a career in foodservice?

Mark Freeman: I’ve enjoyed going through the ranks – I’ve worked in corporate foodservice, colleges and universities, and also in restaurants. I’ve had a great time.

Click here to read part one of the interview with Mark Freeman.

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