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Recapping FEDA Conference Keynoter Mark King

The Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association hosted its 2020 Annual Conference remotely. One of the keynote speakers was Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell. He shared a few insights about business in today’s marketplace and how dealers can work with operators to support their businesses. What follows are a few highlights from that presentation, which was moderated by FE&S’ Joe Carbonara.

On leadership and the need to change: What we’ve learned in the past won’t guarantee success in the future. The bottom line is this: if we as leaders keep doing the same things we have always done it will be challenging to be successful in the future.

How are we going to lead? What is the leadership style that is going to be successful in today’s world? That’s important because the pace of change is only going to accelerate. The only leadership model that will work in today’s world is distributed leadership. Ask all of your employees to think about the future and how the company will stay relevant. The businesses that will be successful are the ones that will engage their employees about the future – not only inviting them to execute it but the think about it, too.

To succeed in this new environment, you will need employees that are passionate, creative and take initiative. If you believe the world is going to change faster and we will need to adapt, it requires a different model and an employee that wants to operate at a different level.

On evolving business models: When someone changes the industry business model, if you are operating under the old model, you will struggle to be successful. In contrast, the company operating under the new model will grow rapidly. You have to run your business model the way it is constructed today but at the same time you have to look at what the customer wants to determine how to do it better and faster. Look at the products and services you offer. Will the product you offer be relevant to restaurants in the future? There’s always been change, what’s different now is the speed at which it occurs.

On lessons from COVID-19: A worldwide pandemic allowed us to rethink the business model using digital, a contactless approach and all other types of channels, including curbside and delivery to your home in replacement for dining in the restaurant. And all of a sudden business started to pick up. You don’t have to wait for a crisis to be able to say, how do we deliver our products and services in a way that’s more meaningful to our customers. That’s available to everyone and those that do this will win in the future.

On the role of the supply chain in operators’ success: If we are going to be successful in the future, the supply chain needs to be connected to our ultimate consumer. Within that supply chain, how do we constantly deliver? We will have to understand the needs of the ultimate consumer. You don’t just need to be in touch with your partner. Members of the supply chain need to be in touch with the consumer, too. We have to get deeply rooted in the omni channel, digital experience for customers or we won’t continue to grow. What does that mean for you, the supply chain? You have to be our partner. How do we make the restaurant more efficient? How do we make that experience more pleasurable for the customer?

Our future just changed dramatically. We are going to experiment with different formats and different technologies. We have to share where we are going with you. The outcomes from transparency are pretty good. We need to own more than half of this, though. If you don’t know where we are headed it will be hard for you to support us.

On the future of restaurant design: Right now we are thinking of everything. The one thing that’s for sure is that the design of the restaurant is going to change. The dining room will be a little smaller and the kitchen a little bigger. There will be a focus on dual makelines to support drive-thru and digital service.

On the future: We have to understand we live in an uncertain world, with or without COVID. It’s changing fast. So we have to be prepared for those kinds of incidents and crises and we have to be able to do it with speed. COVID has not changed the future. It’s accelerated the future. What was going to happen over the next 5 or 10 years will now happen over the next year. You have the ability to survive if you are willing to do things differently. We have the ability to push forward and be successful if we are willing to study the consumer, understand their needs and change to satisfy that need.