It seems to me that the foodservice industry has become dominated by buzzwords and clichés and as a result we would all benefit from a healthy dose of reality.

Chip-EvansChip Evans
President, The Evans Group
I say this because every office I visit today seems to have a number of cheap posters housed in cheaper frames placed strategically to highlight motivational messages that give us such buzzwords and catchphrases as teamwork, service, excellence, attitude, make it happen, believe and succeed.

Don't be fooled. The motivational stuff just says what it takes to be successful, but these clichés might be wrong. They may not even apply to your business. That's why it is important for you to learn the actual reality of your work situation, what you perceive to be your reality, and develop what should be real tools for your business to succeed.

Here's an example: in the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, as with many others, the buzzword "valued added" has become a standard part of everyone's lexicon. Many foodservice equipment manufacturers quickly jump to the conclusion that value added is another way of saying "lower the price while making sure the equipment still performs the same function, even if the form varies." To the dealer sales rep and the company they work for, the concept of value added can mean "steer the sale to a product within the buying group with the intent of creating a perceived price advantage."

When jumping to such conclusions, many foodservice professionals miss the simple fact that the customer is the one that ultimately forms the true and correct definition of what is value added. In many cases, when an operator or consultant points out the need to value engineer part of a project they could be really saying "improve the value, the function or lower the price" — or some combination of the three. Before responding it is important to understand what this means. Otherwise, by blindly embracing the business cliché, you may be undermining your value proposition.

At the end of the day, it goes back to what we learned as children about how to play with our friends in the sandbox: don't throw sand, share the sandbox toys and don't bully anyone. Those are the rules for playing well with others in the sandbox. In a business sense, this translates into knowing your assets and liabilities and finding out the same about the others you do business with. As we work together to identify our strengths and weaknesses and the realities of our own liabilities, the consequences of our working together become clearer.

With that information as your foundation, all of the parties can begin forming a business relationship that will function well. It will also become apparent, just as it did in the sandbox, that perhaps not all of us are meant to play together, and that's okay, too.

Don't trust those posters. Motivate and become motivated by form and function, and realize the experience you are having you are creating. This leads to cause and effect, and is how effective long-term ethical sales are made, and how customers are taught that "on sale" has nothing to do with the price of something.