The One Thing Technology Has Not Changed

Joe Carbonara attended a trio of FCSI-The Americas' Division Super Regional events and took home some thoughts about communication.

Technology is a wonderful thing. For example, speedier oven technology allows emerging fast-casual concepts like Pie Five to provide customers with their pizzas within five minutes of placing an order. And foodservice designers can leverage building information technologyto more effectively and efficiently develop layouts that provide architects, operators and other members of the project team with more information than ever.

Further, project teams are no longer bound by geography. In fact, it’s common for designers in one region to work with operators from another area. And thanks to the Internet, we at FE&S were able to reach more than 500 foodservice professionals who registered for our 2014 Forecast Webcast. Indeed, technology has brought a tight knit industry even closer together, accelerating the pace associated with doing business in the foodservice industry.

As the pace continues to quicken and the way trading partners continue to work collaboratively keeps evolving, one thing remains constant: the need to communicate effectively and efficiently with project team members, suppliers and anyone else that touches your business. That message came through loud and clear earlier this fall as I had the opportunity to attend a trio of Super Regional Events hosted by FCSI-The Americas’ Division and CFESA’s Fall Conference in New Orleans.

Projects are becoming more complex and many companies are trying to do more with less or in shorter periods of time with the hopes of shaving a few bucks from the budget. That’s all well and good but this can’t happen by sacrificing communication. That’s because communication plays a key role in managing customer and vendor expectations, ensuring none of a project’s details fall through the cracks and more. Any of these examples have the potential to add time and money to a project. It seems to me that technology places greater pressure on people to be fast rather than accurate and that’s problematic.

It is important for everyone involved to take the time to understand the scope of a project before moving forward. This applies to everything from buying a simple replacement piece of equipment to a full blown design-build project.

So what does this mean to the foodservice community? It means understanding how the operator intends to use the space today and in the years to come before specifying an equipment package. It means making sure the equipment package supports the menu and service style. It means understanding how the staff will use individual pieces of equipment and ensuring a factory authorized service agent can perform the necessary maintenance and repairs in a timely manner. It means not sending out bid lists before finalizing the equipment package. It means engaging in open and transparent dialogue when specifications require an adjustment to meet budget requirements.

Solid communication, the flow of information between two or more parties, relies on respect and accountability among trading partners.

Ask most any foodservice professional what keeps them engaged in this industry, the vast majority will wax poetic about the relationships they have developed over the years. I am all for having solid business relationships but that’s all the more reason to make sure not to short-change the communication and planning aspects of any transaction, regardless of the size.

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