Supply chain needs to bridge knowledge gap

CESA conference 2017
A panel of industry experts, representing different sectors, discussed the issue of sticking to the specification.

The 2016 CESA Conference was the scene for the grand reveal of the association’s ‘Mind the Gap Too’ research in association with Fryett Consulting Group. On 18 November at Marriot Forest of Arden Hotel, Doug Fryett, the consultant group’s founder, presented the results of the survey, which asked catering equipment supply chain members what end users’ priorities are, and compared them to operators’ own answers.

The goal of the research was to determine if the supply chain is meeting end users’ needs, and whether any gaps exist. In total, there were 113 respondents, comprising 26 dealers or distributors, 50 suppliers or manufacturers, 11 consultants, seven service organisations and 19 end users/operators.

When asked to rate operators’ “pains”, 70.6% of operators themselves said their primary pain was overhead and cost reduction, followed by work flow optimisation, worker productivity and standards and codes, in order of priority.

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Dealers matched the primary pain prediction, with 73.1% of them also plumping for overhead and cost reduction as top. However, they then rated consistent food quality, employee retention and customer service as the next three priorities. Manufacturers and suppliers fared even worse, with just 56% rating overhead and cost reduction top, closely followed by employee retention, consistent food quality and customer service.

Consultants scored a 63.6% top prediction for overhead and cost reduction, but then entirely differed from end users, with rising food costs, consistent food quality and food safety rounding out their top four. And while service organisations actually rated standards and regulations the top priority, with 63.6%, they actually matched three out of four end users’ “pains”, with overhead and cost reduction coming in second, customer service third and worker productivity fourth.

When operators were asked which members of the supply chain they thought were able to help them identify and overcome their “pains”, they rated manufacturers top, closely followed by dealers. The same results followed in a question regarding who operators rely on to help them select the most suitable equipment. However, when it came to placing value on information obtained from members of the supply chain, operators rated their own research as being the most reliable. Fryett commented: “Operators are doing a lot of their own research, and looking at the supply chain with a bit of a jaundiced eye. Manufacturers’ and dealers’ websites are geared toward selling, not towards easing operator pains.”

Furthermore, on a scale of 1-7 regarding satisfaction with the equipment and supplies provided by the supply chain, operators only rated them an average of 4.6. End users also rated suppliers and manufacturers the highest, just ahead of dealers, when it came to getting the specific piece of equipment they asked for.

Analysing these results, Fryett said: “We have to listen more as an industry to foodservice operators’ pains and ask the right questions to find what they are really looking for. We have to interpret what they say, and deliver. Dealer salespeople have to be educated – not necessarily on the products, but how to ask the right questions. Stay focused on the end user’s needs and don’t just focus on the manufacturer’s equipment. The operator will then start to recognise there is value there.”

He added: “We need to morph from a supply chain mentality to a value chain mentality – and value means different things to different operators.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

1 Comment

  1. Adding the right kind of value in the right place seems to be the area to work on. The value we think we add isn’t always the right one. Finding that value is all in the questions we ask and of course listening to the answers.
    Interesting article and survey results.
    I work in the area of finance so it’s hard to not to be seen as someone who works on price but there is so much more to buying a piece of equipment than the cost. This is made even more relevant when the survey points to “overhead and cost reduction” as being top of the priorities list.

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