Foodservice by Design

Team members from PROFITALITY discuss how industrial engineering can be applied to the foodservice industry.


My February New Year’s Resolution – Efficiency!

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Most people made their resolutions effective Jan. 1, 2019.  However, studies show that less than 25 percent of people keep their resolutions after 30 days and only 8 percent of people actually keep them for the year. I am not surprised by these numbers. So, I figured that since I missed inquiring on this topic at the beginning of the year, I would check up with you now, around the Chinese New Year, to see if you are among the 25 percent that keeps their resolution.

My resolution is to achieve efficiency in both my personal and professional life. I welcome you to join me in this resolution. Whatever your role in the foodservice industry — consultant, equipment supplier, brand executive, retail designer or another function — look into how you can help yourselves, your company and, more importantly, your clients, be more efficient.

As we discuss efficiency, let’s remember that efficiency in mathematical equation terms equals output divided by input. Greater output (e.g. sales, throughput, completed work) and less input (capital, human and operating costs), yields a higher efficiency equation.

Here is an example that touches both my personal and professional life. My goal is to help our consultants achieve greater efficiency in how they execute their work as they go about doing Industrial Engineering analysis, concept design, client travel for data collection and meetings. This checks both personal and professional boxes because if I am able to increase their efficiency, I’m able to expand their work in existing projects or new projects, as well as offload some of the things on my plate. This would open up more space for me to convert to either my personal or professional time. I always tell my consultants that their job is to take work away from me and I believe that applies down the consultant chain. This allows all of us to find something else to do that will add more revenue for the company and more value to our customers. By doing this I am also helping the consultants grow by having them take on more responsibilities in the business. In my case, I can find more time to spend with my wife, children and 6 — soon to be 7 — grandchildren. I always remind our team that your personal life has to be in balance in order for your professional one to be the same.

I don’t know about you but I find myself running out of time every day. It seems as if emails alone are running my life. I find myself always trying to get all the emails I have not taken action on in one page without having to scroll down. Maybe I should just reduce the font? Ha! It’s a rat race all the time. I can never get to the bottom of my emails.

Industrial Engineers get bad reputations about being cost misers. The way we look at it is that in the cost equation, we definitely want to reduce it but never at the expense of quality and food safety. Really, the best way to a better bottom line and improving efficiency is through the top line: facilitating sales throughput and new menu items.

In our Industrial Engineering in Foodservice consulting practice we aim to drive efficiency by hitting both sides of the equation; top (numerator) = sale throughput and new menu items and bottom (denominator) = capital and operating costs. Driving/increasing the top of the equation is more important than reducing the bottom part, although sometimes the big impact rests on reducing costs. We often see concepts that have benchmark competitive sales numbers but their profit levels are weak. Without sales you cannot get profit, but often the costs are so high that even the sales cannot compensate for the cost structure.

On to the challenges of 2019. May the efficiency force be with you!