Foodservice Equipment Reports

FEDA Gathers For ‘Culture Of Profitability’

Profitability in a changing market was the focal point when some 400 members, supporters and association staff gathered March 28-April 1 at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz., for the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association’s annual convention.

“A Culture of Profitability,” as the meeting was themed, included a day of association business as well as three days of a broad mix of seminar sessions, roundtables and ample networking time.

“Any effort to control the customer is fraught with danger,” opening speaker Peter Sheehan, CEO of ChangeLabs, told the audience. He coached listeners not to spend time and energy herding customers into traditional ways of doing business, but to flex as the customer changes and new options emerge.

The next day, speaker Mike Marks, Indian River Consulting Group, followed on some of the same key ideas. “The industry is poised for disruptive innovation,” he said, and success will require different kinds of solutions.

Profitability remains the obvious goal, he noted, but he emphasized the importance of cash reserves, too. “Cash is oxygen,” he said. “Now that the market is up, you can make money. But if you run out of cash, you’re still gone.”

On a more strategic level, he urged dealers to understand what it is that the customer is buying, what the value is in the eyes of the customer. “I can say to you, ‘We’re having hot dogs for lunch,’” he said. “The manufacturer provides the weiner. The dealer provides the bun and everything else.” What the customer is perceiving, though, is the bigger concept of “lunch.”

As he summed up a lengthy list of bullet points, he closed by saying, “What will be successful in the future is NOT what got you here.”

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