Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JAN 2014

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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48 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JANUARY 2014 served our country and need careers," Capannola says. "Who would not want to support that?" Another key step to attracting the right people is making sure the company, no matter its role in the foodservice industry, maintains a positive and high profle within the communities it serves. For example, chefs at Rex Healthcare regularly perform cooking demonstrations that promote healthy eating. "This is an important step to showcase your team's capabilities and to create a buzz," Conklin says. "It creates opportunities that you might never have known were out there. Now we have people lining up to work here." RETENTION LEADS TO RECRUITMENT Finding the right people often starts with treating current employees well. "Your current employees will help you get more employees," Wueste says. "You have to have a nice place for them to work and make sure they feel respected. If you feel happy and that the job is fun you will not want to go somewhere else. You have to make it fun because it is a lot of hard work." Carlson agrees. "There are challenging clients and deadlines but that does not mean you can't have fun. Look for those opportunities to laugh with one another. Yes, you have to be professional but that does not mean you can't joke around once in a while." Indeed, employee retention is crucial and it starts at the top of any organization. "I visit each branch at least once a year," Hodge says. "Because I have done every job in the company, I can sit at any desk in the company and do that job. It's nice for them to know that the guy sending them out there knows what they do and I try to demonstrate that. I won't ask someone to do something I can't or won't do myself. And that makes a big difference." Promoting from within can help with retention, too. "You have to identify the right people and have room for them to grow," Wueste says. Equally as important as promoting from within is understanding each employee's strengths and weak- nesses. "We can work someone into being a great salesperson but that does not mean they will be a great manager." Reading the book "Good to Great" really drove home the need to maximize an employee's skills and minimize their weaknesses for Carlson. "That was an epiphany for me," he says. "If someone is not good in that role then get them out of that role. Or you can outline an acceptable level of perfor- mance and get them the tools they need to achieve it. There's a lot of things that need to be done, so if you can get people to leverage their strengths they are going to be happier doing their job." Regular communication that's both clear and concise is another key element in retaining top performers. "Once a year we have a strategic meeting to review what we as a company are doing well and where we can improve. And we measure our performance every month," Hagan says. "Everyone has a strategic initiative they are responsible for and they have to report on it each month." When it comes to employee retention, Carlson offers some practical advice. "Keep your employees challenged. Don't let them get bored," he says. "I think back to my frst two jobs working for an equipment dealer and a fabricator. I was under employed and always looking for more to do. Since I came here, I have not had to look for more to do." Training can play a key role in keeping employees engaged. "Training and retention go together," Carlson says. "You have to put on your employee hat to remem- ber that people want to feel they have some control over their decisions. So we have a program called "Expert in the Room" where a member of our team becomes the resource for the offce on a specifc topic. We will have a lunch and learn session where they can bring everyone up to speed about a specifc topic or product and we can come to them with questions. In some instances, they can even play a role in infuencing company standards. That's a huge help to the overall company because you don't have everyone doing that research and that person gets a sense of accomplishment." Carlson also looks for meaningful external training op- portunities, such as conferences, to send members of the Rippe team. "I've had jobs where they keep you in the dark and hope you grow like a mushroom," he says. "But if I bring them to a conference or a meeting I don't have to tell them what happened when we get back to the offce because they were there. Now they can just take the ball and run with it." RAISING THE INDUSTRY'S PROFILE Overcoming the lack of awareness about the countless op- portunities beyond restaurants will require an old-fashioned grassroots effort by everyone involved. "It is important for all of us to start talking to our family members, people in college and more about the future of the industry," Wueste says. "As a whole, we need to be talking to more people to let them know there is more to this industry than fast food." Word of mouth represents one of the most powerful ways to build awareness about the career opportunities in the many aspects of the foodservice industry and employees represent the most potent and credible messengers. "There's a team that helps you get where you want to be and you have to reward them. They then go out to the people they know in the business and help promote what you are doing," Conklin says. "Our last three hires have been people who came from referrals from existing employees." Sparrow agrees. "We rely on our team of people to help us recruit from the community and we have a pretty good screening process set up through human resources," he says. And fnding the right ft has many benefts, including lowering turnover. "We have a waiting list of people wanting to work here," Sparrow adds. Sometimes the best options are right in front of you. "The diffculty is not fnding the right people," Hodge says. "The challenge is recognizing the good people when they work for you." FE&S

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