E&S Extra

Editorial Director Joe Carbonara provides insights and commentary on the state of the foodservice equipment and supplies marketplace.


Next-Level Leadership

Given that it's December, it's only natural to want to look ahead to the coming year (or even years) to get an idea of what our businesses might look like in the future. Only, that can be a fool's errand.


"Nobody knows what their business will look like in the future, yet we run our businesses like we do," said Brock Coleman, president of Commercial Kitchen Parts and Service. Coleman offered these remarks during a general session on the last day of the Fall Conference hosted by the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association. And Coleman's right.

Industries like foodservice may be in a period of steady, if unspectacular growth, but the pace of change is quite the opposite. Indeed, technological advances continue to force all businesses to adapt and evolve at a rate much faster than anyone could have imagined even five years ago. As Coleman so succinctly said: foodservice is in the midst of a technical renaissance.

When harnessed correctly, technology can have powerful results. For example, in disclosing its third quarter earnings, McDonald's reported a 4.1 percent sales increase among U.S. locations open for more than a year. While the chain's value pricing strategy clearly had a positive impact on sales, McDonald's adoption of various technology-oriented features, such as in-store kiosk ordering and third-party delivery, unquestionably contributed to the chain's fiscal success. That's because if we know anything about fast-food customers it's that bargains and convenience play key roles in their pursuit of what they perceive to be tasty food.

And McDonald's is not alone in its embrace of technology. In fact, four out of five foodservice operators feel technology has the ability to increase sales, enhance efficiency and provide a competitive edge, according to data from the National Restaurant Association.

Unfortunately, so many businesses in today's foodservice industry remain slow to adopt technology, feeling as if these changes keep happening to them. It need not be that way, though. The easiest way to start: Change the way you think about your business. Coleman challenged his CFESA brethren to stop trying to win the game and start trying to change the game.

"Wouldn't you like to change the game and have a say in its outcome?" he asked rhetorically. In doing so, he encouraged members of the service agent community to become lifelong and adaptive learners.

That's because developing an insatiable thirst for knowledge and being receptive to evolving with its customers can be transformational for a business, its leaders and employees. In doing so, the nature of the relationships between the business and its customers go from being transaction-based to value-based. Coleman described this as next-level leadership. He's right, and it's already happening in all segments of today's foodservice industry.

Indeed, the industry may not be growing quickly, but it keeps marching ever onward. Are you ready to move forward and take your business to the next level?