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This Week in Foodservice: Amazon to Expand with Curbside Grocery Pickup; September Sales Show Confidence; and Noise Drowns out Food Taste

News worthy of a second take:Restaurant sales continued to roll on in September according to the Commerce Department. Knapp-Track continues to show weak sales at casual dining chains. Amazon is going the brick-and-mortar route with the internet giant announcing they are moving into the c-store business and opening drive-in locations for the pickup of groceries ordered online. A study shows that noise can make food taste bad. Read more...

Investment Optimization and The Operating Parameters

FIt is not enough to understand the six operating parameters that exist within any foodservice operations. Rather, it’s equally important to know how they relate to one another.

Juan Martinez, Principal, Profitability, Miami
Juan Martinez, Principal,
Profitality, Miami

Processes and procedures are very much intertwined with the people that actually execute them. At first glance, this may seem rather fundamental but there's more to it than meets the eye. That's because, while easier said than done, it's very important to balance the employees' capabilities – both mentally and physically – with the actual work they have to perform to deliver the brand promise. Any good foodservice design includes processes and procedures that are easy-to–follow and optimize the physical and cognitive aspects of the job.

Failure to balance employee capabilities with what the foodservice concept aims to deliver will result in an internal conflict that can compromise the customer experience and impede an operation's ability to generate that much-sought- after repeat business. The conflict can manifest itself in several ways, including lower food quality, service level or other areas of the experience.

Another important operating parameter is the place, or the facility layout, along with the work stations. One goal of any foodservice design is to create an environment that makes it easier for the employee to perform the duties that comprise their work content. This includes the way they use the foodservice equipment and related technology – also known as the platforms, another one of the operating parameters – to deliver the customer experience.

Equipment platforms can be great enablers of simplification and efficiency, as well as the quality of the experience and hospitality delivered to the customers. The key is to apply these platforms in an optimum arrangement and synergy with the other previously mentioned parameters; processes & procedures, people and place.

And as more concepts look to differentiate themselves from the competition, products and promotions represent a very critical factor in an operation's success. I would submit to you that during recent years, a significant number of foodservice operators have added menu items without deleting any of their older, slower movers.

Although it is very important to add menu items so the concept remains relevant and fresh in the eyes of the customer, it is equally as important to delete some to rebalance and simplify the operations. Doing so allows the crew to continue to deliver an optimum experience. Of course, not many foodservice operators seem willing to delete some out-dated or poor selling menu items.

Just like products, any planned promotion requires careful evaluation to make sure it fits well within the existing operating set up and with the mainstream of existing products and align with the flow of the existing production. In other words, a promotion that's too successful can fall out of synch with the remaining operating parameters and create a poor customer experience.

In my next post I will add a few more thoughts on the topic of products and promotions and discuss some of the considerations to optimally evaluate new products, in order to ensure that these efforts drive both sides of the investment optimization equation; profits and hospitality.