(Being the great guy that I am) I took my wife out to a local restaurant which had been almost closed due to road construction. They remodeled, re-branded and were doing a soft opening. We arrived at 6:30 on a Friday night and were promptly seated. I started looking around and saw very little food on any of the tables. That anxious feeling started to appear as I looked in the kitchen window and saw a row of 20 tickets. After 15 minutes without any acknowledgment from the waitstaff, we decided to leave and go to Plan B.
Now, Plan B wasn’t really a plan. We drove around looking for an option that appealed to both of us. While not quickly agreeing on a replacement venue, we both noticed that almost every restaurant had a Help Wanted sign in the window (including the one we just left). There were also signs at other retail establishments as well as many commercial operations.
This says two things to me. First, the economy is seeing a baseline recovery with folks ready to go out to eat again on Friday nights. The food-service sector should be experiencing some modest growth albeit with more price consciousness. Second, the value-added products and services that our industry provides are more important than ever. A stressed commercial kitchen can buy fresh-cut vegetables and redeploy the prep employee to tasks that absolutely demand on-site attention.
This comes down to selling the value in ‘value added’. Many salesmen want to sell and buyers want to buy the lowest cost of goods on any given day. Having a consistent program with guaranteed availability and price stability often times provides more value to the end user. This value can be quantified through spreadsheet formulas, but right now all we need to do is qualify it based on the help wanted signs in the windows.