Laura MacPhail is president of MacPhail & Associates LLC and creator of theFoodservice Immersion™ training program. She is also principal of The Hale Group, Ltd. Her expertise is foodservice operators: their needs, their business practices and their approach to supply chain partners. She has worked with major companies and leading foodservice associations such as Tyson Foods, Darden Restaurants, Produce for Better Health Foundation, Women's Foodservice Forum, International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) and the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council.
At a recent conference, I spoke to some foodservice professionals who were seeking more information on the industry and, in particular, the operator community. Their companies had offered a little training, but not enough that they felt fully versed on the topic and confident in progressing their career. They asked, "How can I get up to speed on the industry as a whole and better understand our operator customers?"
This is the very question that sparked the creation of Foodservice Immersion™, a focused, small-group foray into the real world of the foodservice operator that I started in 2008.
It's an intensive three-day program of operator site visits, one-on-one candid discussions and frank Q&A sessions. To help attendees better understand the nuances of supply-chain relationships, Foodservice Immersion™ also includes discussions with brokers and distributor sales reps, along with a visit to a distribution center.
For those looking for a broader overview and training on the foodservice industry in its entirety, there's a perfect supplement: IFMA's Foodservice Fundamentals Fast Track, a one-day course that provides the essential knowledge that enable foodservice employees with little to limited experience to hit the ground running.
Together, both programs achieve the goal of getting foodservice suppliers up-to-speed on the changing landscape of foodservice.
Foodservice is a complex industry with a long and steep learning curve. Here are 10 key learnings you'll gain from the Foodservice Immersion™ program:
- Understand first-hand how operators, brokers, distributors and others work with each other-in real life and in their own facilities.
- How operators find new products, who helps them and where they look for information.
- Operators' frank opinions about their success and failures, packaging issues, product selection and much more.
- The role of GPOs in various foodservice segments.
- The new ways distributors are finding to partner with their operator clients.
- Which trends are really making an impact on day-to-day foodservice: ethnic cuisine, sustainability, customer allergies?
- What food suppliers can do to make the purchasing process easier, faster and more profitable.
- The specific and complex issues faced by different operator segments.
- Direct access to operators, purchasing agents, chefs, sales reps and the ability to make personal connections.
- A valuable accompaniment to Foodservice Fundamentals; taking attendees out of the classroom and into the kitchens or warehouses of most foodservice segments.
Foodservice Immersion™ started out of perceived need for improved supplier interaction with operators, and exposure to operators' varying structures and numerous challenges. Each Foodservice Immersion™ program includes visits to a selection of operator segments: hospitals and health care, college and university, family restaurants, fast casual restaurants, national chains, K-12 school foodservice, and a broadline distributor warehouse. In order to better understand the nuances of supply-chain relationships, we have added discussions with brokers and distributor sales reps, along with visits to distribution centers.