E&S Extra

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


Efficient by Design



I truly admire golfers. Executing a proper golf swing requires proper coordination as your body prepares to drive the ball. Spending the afternoon outdoors communing with nature in a perfectly manicured environment isn’t bad either. But what I admire most about golf is the way the game rewards efficiency.

Making the most effective and efficient use of each shot over a round of 18 holes results in the lowest and, by default, winning score. Unlike other sports that strive to pump up the scoring to keep fans’ attention, golf continues to embrace its less-is-more philosophy in determining the winners and losers. If the game rewarded players with the lowest cost per stroke based on who can strike the most trees on the course, then yours truly would be a scratch golfer.

Without a doubt the foodservice industry loves golf. It remains virtually impossible to attend an industry event where golf does not shape the entire schedule. So perhaps it is time for the foodservice industry to begin further embracing a less-is-more approach.

Now let’s not confuse this with a doing-more-with-less philosophy. That usually happens when companies begin to trim personnel but not the actual workload. Those instances usually lead to myriad challenges, including lower productivity, higher staff burnout and unsatisfied customers. The net result is the erosion of a company’s brand promise, which can bring with it disastrous implications.

In the foodservice operator community, embracing a less-is-more philosophy happens by design. For example, during the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association’s spring conference, one chain shared some of its growth plans with the audience. This quick-serve concept plans to shrink its prototype while simultaneously significantly increasing its annual unit volumes. As a result this chain will become even more thoughtful about its design in order to get more from its labor pool. This direction will also tax the chain’s infrastructure, which means the concept will emphasize high-performance equipment and will likely require a well-thought out, planned maintenance program to minimize downtime or disruptions in customer service.

Of course, growth may not be the only reason today’s operators need to become more efficient by design. Many have to do so in order to get a better handle on rising labor costs or even in response to a shrinking labor pool, as Caroline Perkins discusses in her article Labor Issues Require Creative Reengineering. Many concepts facing pressures to increase sales and enhance margins continue to take a long hard look at design.

Let’s be clear, making foodservice designs effective and efficient is nothing new. In fact, it’s the hallmark of many design consultants. The point here is that regardless of why an operator becomes more efficient by design, this aspect of foodservice has never been more important than it is today. And given operators’ uncertainty about the economy and the fact that the industry remains stuck in neutral, it will remain this way for quite some time.