While waiting tables in college, April Snow discovered she had an affinity for the hospitality industry. "I was just drawn to that environment," she says.
R.W. Smith & Co. in San Diego. This helped provide the training and skills she needed to transition into an outside sales role for the company's San Francisco territory. "I had the privilege of working with some of the world's top chefs, which was a great experience," Snow says.Consequently, her first career move was working in customer support at
After six years, she changed course and moved to a similar role in Arizona. For the past five years, Snow has specialized in casino restaurant openings, with a focus on tabletop design. "Casinos comprise about 80 percent of my business, and larger projects are my forte," she says.
FE&S: What's the difference between selling fine dining and casino customers?
AS: High-end San Francisco restaurants are on the cutting edge with what's going on in the food industry. My time there taught me a lot about the latest trends, such as farm-to-table concepts and the art of food. The casinos are running massive operations, but are still very food driven and keep on top of trends. With these two types of operations, volume is different and so are the priorities. Casinos are focused on efficiency and speed of service as well as keeping a closer eye on costs. Customers at these establishments are food savvy. We recently conducted research on Las Vegas buffets for a casino restaurant project, which influenced the operation's outcome. The goal for both high-end restaurants and casinos is to create a unique experience for customers.
FE&S: What about selling tabletop items inspires you?
AS: I love the creativity of designing tabletops and working with chefs who are very creative people. I also enjoy the art of food and staying current on trends. It's great to be able to bring chefs my ideas that can help create their vision. This is my passion. It's wonderful when I can put ideas together that work with a chef's menu and bring a vision to life.
FE&S: What's the secret to executing a good tabletop?
AS: Obviously, staying current with the latest food trends is important. I do a lot of research by going out to eat, which is fun. It's also important to stay active in the food community to see what's going on. Understanding trends and staying on top of product knowledge is a must. Top chefs are always looking for the latest and greatest things, so it's important to know what those are.
FE&S: How does your experience working as a customer support person benefit you and your clients today?
AS: Working in customer support was great training for me. Sometimes when a rep gets hired, they go straight out to the field and don't get the opportunity to learn like I did. In this role, I was not only helping customers, but also supporting outside sales reps. This helped me understand what I was getting into with my current career.
FE&S: In the event a project strays from plan, what's the best way to address it?
AS: I've done several massive projects over the years, and the most important thing is being proactive when something goes wrong. Communication is huge. If there is an issue, I always let clients know what is happening and offer a solution before problems get out of hand.