Investing in the Future

Investing in the future is something most every company aspires to do but few organizations actually do well. That's because, in order to invest in the future, business leaders need to step back from the issues that press them today and think about tomorrow.

And whether you are hustling to meet customer deadlines or to drum up new business it is awfully hard to break your train of thought to look three minutes ahead, much less three months or even three years. But in order to develop sustainable businesses that is exactly what today's business leaders must do.

It is like the old saying goes: if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got. Business leaders have to be comfortable with the concept of change among their customers, within their organizations and, most importantly, in themselves. If you are not willing to change or adapt to the changing foodservice industry how can you expect your teammates to do the same? And if you can't listen to what they are saying, how can you expect them to listen to you and actually hear what you are trying to tell them?

The good news is that as the foodservice industry evolves it presents ample opportunities for foodservice professionals and their organizations to change. For example, an increased emphasis on healthy eating represents a tremendous opportunity. Specifically, it is an opportunity for operators from all segments to collaborate with dieticians to develop more healthful menus. And it represents an opportunity for foodservice equipment consultants, dealers and manufacturers to explore more healthful food preparation options, instead of just selling a product for a price.

And the sustainability movement represents countless opportunities to move the conversation about equipment and supplies from one that centers solely on price to a more solutions-oriented dialogue that focuses on the future. For example, the sustainability conversation should look at more than how operators source the ingredients that produce the center of the plate product. It can take into account how you prepare those ingredients to maximize output and minimize waste that goes into the trash. More importantly, sustainability should lead to conversations about lowering overhead through the reduced consumption of various natural resources, which should be of interest to any savvy operator trying to build a business that will be successful for many years to come.

Unfortunately, the economic forces that impact the foodservice industry continue to fluctuate greatly from one day to the next, making it difficult to see what's coming for the industry in the weeks and months ahead. But that should not keep today's business leaders from looking ahead in the form of uncovering new talent that will bring new ideas to their organizations or from investing in training that will allow current staff to deliver on a brand's value proposition, which leads to return business that is so important to companies from all segments.

As baseball legend Satchel Paige once said, "Don't look back. Someone might be gaining on you."

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