Meaningless foodservice words—do you use these?

First, I confess I’m chronically guilty of using many meaningless words and terms in my daily foodservice life.  I often fall into that industry-speak trap and use language that is gibberish to the customers we all market and sell to.

Dave Miesse, AFDR’s founder and leader, reminded me of this fact when chatting the other day.  Dave frequently provides a reality check on what it’s like out on the street based on his weekly sales calls with restaurant owners, cafeteria managers, sales reps and others in the trenches who help feed others for a living.

We marketing types inadvertently confuse those who buy food, supplies and equipment by using words like…

  • Foodservice. Yes, this is a catch-all term that describes an industry.  But it holds little meaning to those who actually fix plates of food as a business.  They speak in more obvious terms like restaurant supplies, meat, potatoes and paper cups.  You’ll likely get a questionable look if you say you’re in the foodservice business.  They don’t use any products called “foodservice.”
  • Commercial/Noncommercial. Most sales reps will tell you a customer is a customer — and each has his or her own special needs.  Categorizing customers based on some broad mission (“commercial” profitable enterprises vs. “noncommercial” service of group feeding) is confusing at best and insulting at worst.  It’s like saying all chicken, beef, pork, cheese, pre-packaged lettuce and orange juice products come from “refrigerated” manufacturers.  All these products have individual identities that go well beyond “refrigerated.”
  • Operators. We’re all operators of some sort (I’m the current operator of my computer keyboard).  Few restaurant owners, kitchen managers or school cafeteria directors call themselves “operators,” however.  It’s a broad term that doesn’t accurately reflect what they do.

OK, some of you are thinking that those in charge of feeding school kids or hospital patients often call themselves “foodservice” directors.  Fair enough.  These folks deal with government bureaucracy that has labeled them as such.  Yet, these customers still ultimately relate better to the idea of serving nutritious food to kids and patients more so than “operating” a kitchen.

Oh, there are other naughty words not to use in foodservice — uhm, I mean, the restaurant business.  Perhaps we’ll talk about them in a future post.

March Planning Considerations

  • Two big celebrations are coming up that drive restaurant sales… Fourth of July and Men’s Health Week (June 15-21). OK, we’re kidding about Men’s Health Week. Got content to share with operators on how to grow their July 4th sales with your products?
  • Who’s the #1 broker sales rep and #1 DSR for your product line? If you don’t know him or her, you probably should. They hold your future in their hands.