In September, AutoQuotes was a proud sponsor of the second bi-annual FED Global Thought Leadership Summit in Chicago. Hosted by Zoomba Group, publisher of Foodservice Equipment & Supplies and Restaurant Development and Design magazines, the Summit brought together FES industry leaders and executives from across market channels for two days of discussion, learning, and networking. The invitation-only event agenda included thoughtful presentations on equipment technology, improving the customer experience, creating and sustaining a positive employee culture and a heavy emphasis on how crucial – and overlooked – the design process is in restaurant development.
Zoomba Group’s Editorial Director, Joe Carbonara acted as the facilitator of the event and did an outstanding job running the Summit and introducing each speaker. AutoQuotes’ VP of Operations, Whitney Jones, and Radek Stypulkowski, AQ’s Director of Product Development attended the event and shared some key takeaways from the Summit.
“The only constant in the technology industry is change.” – Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce
In theory, advances in equipment technology offer operators an easier way to streamline operations and promote consistency in the kitchen. Doesn’t everyone want better and faster technology that makes our personal and work lives easier? Maybe. RATIONAL North America’s Executive Vice President Markus Glueck gave a surprising statistic during his presentation (Connectivity Within the Commercial Kitchen: How Data-Driven Insight Can Lead to Operational Efficiency): RATIONAL shipped 10,000 combi ovens last year, and every unit from the factory came equipped with an internet port. Of those shipped units, only 600 ever connected to the web. Is the FES industry just generally slower to adopt technology than other industries?
Gennadiy Goldenshteyn, Vice President Advanced Systems at Welbilt challenged that thought during his time on stage (Do Androids Dream of French Fries: Evolving Customer Experience in the New Era of Foodservice Automation).Mr. Goldenshteyn’s presentation included a high-level perspective on technology adoption patterns and he also shared his opinion that the FES industry isn’t necessarily behind any other. Relatively new to the industry, perhaps Mr. Goldenshteyn offers a fresh perspective view – maybe the delay in adoption isn’t because the industry is adverse to new technology but instead that implementing process changes into existing workflows takes time.
Your business is only as good as your employees are engaged.
It’s no secret that restaurant operators are dealing with consistent labor challenges. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the hospitality industry experienced 70% turnover in 2017. As the unemployment rate continues to trend down in the U.S., the labor pool is also shrinking making it even more difficult to attract and retain staff which generally leads to a subpar customer experience. Dee Robinson, Founder and President of Robinson Hill, and Kathy Langlois, Managing Director at O.C. Tanner, gave thoughtful presentations on employee culture and its impact on business and the customer experience. In Ms. Robinson’s presentation (“To Ensure a Great Customer Experience, Start with the Staff”), she reminded attendees of the business returns seen when managers engage with employees at all levels. She also touched on the need for greater diversity in our industry which resonated with attendees.
Your brand can stand out with better design.
Many design firms were in attendance as were designers from many leading dealers including Eric Mahn and Jennifer Phelps of TriMark Marlinn and Bill Rzasa of The Boelter Companies. Rather than thinking of design as a speck on the workflow of a restaurant’s development, several speakers championed design as critical in the overall success of a restaurant. The right design provides staff with efficient workspaces and streamlined operations, in turn creating environments that support a more positive customer experience.
Tobin Ellis of Bar Magic spoke specifically about bar design with a history lesson on the evolution of bars, taverns and cocktails (Futureshock: The Evolution of Bar Design and What it Means for Designers, Architects and Operators). Mr. Ellis recommended that bar design should be considered at the front-end of a design project, not as an afterthought. The core of his presentation was the need for bar design to facilitate the way bartenders work. Not simply for efficiency, but so that a bartender can be productive while always facing the customer.
The recurrence of these themes – technology, customer experience and design – reinforces the idea that the health of the FES industry still relies on collaboration among all its diverse members to move forward.
See you in 2020!