Before becoming an account manager at Avanti Restaurant Solutions in Sacramento, Calif., five years ago, Jenn Pollack's only experience in the foodservice industry was as a dishwasher while in college. That position lasted just one month.
"It was a horrible experience, which is why I didn't last long," she says.
Fortunately, this is not the case with her current career. Pollack formerly worked as office manager at a staffing company where Avanti Restaurant Solutions was one of her clients. So when the dealer's president, Mark Rossi, offered Pollack a position, she jumped at the opportunity.
FE&S: You come from a completely different background. What made you want to join the foodservice industry?
JP: I knew it was a very interesting industry but didn't know much about it and was interested in learning more.
FE&S: What do you like best about your job?
JP: There are so many things I enjoy about this position. More than anything, I like solving problems on a daily basis and helping people. There is something new going on every day and this makes what I do exciting.
FE&S: You came into the industry five years ago with no foodservice background. What steps did you take to learn about the industry?
JP: I'm still learning, because there is so much to know and everything is constantly changing. Mark was a great mentor to me in the beginning, sharing his knowledge. Since then, I've educated myself with webinars and by attending conferences and food shows. Also, there are many rep groups that come in here and provide information.
FE&S: Restaurant chains are known for being high-demand, high-reward customers. What's your trick to keeping them satisfied?
JP: I think of clients more as partners than as customers. We work together to get their restaurant open. I'm a part of their team and they are a part of my team. I do what I can to get things done, solve problems and make the process go as smoothly as possible. I make sure everyone has what they need and that they are happy with my service.
FE&S: There are lots of little details with each project. How do you stay on top of them?
JP: One of our core values is to see all the details through. This is a big component in how we do things. I have to be organized, especially when handling multiple projects.
FE&S: What's the most important lesson you've learned on this job?
JP: There are so many lessons. The key to everything is effective communication. This ensures that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
FE&S: Describe a situation that you successfully handled with a customer.
JP: We had a huge equipment issue with one chain that took almost a year for the manufacturer to resolve. It was all ready to roll out when we realized the new equipment would not fit on the stands we had in place. I ended up ordering 35 new stands, and had them made in two weeks. I'm now in the process of finding homes for the 35 stands that didn't work out. It's important to go above and beyond in some situations.