FEDA News & Views


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Page 15 of 49

Board Member Q&A Recently-elected board members share their take on everything from operational strategies to dealer-supplier relations. the system and focus on growth in various areas of the company—not on checking and rechecking information. What is the best change N&V:you've made in how you do business in the last year? The last three years? Jam eel Bur kett, Pr esiden t Bur kett Restaur an t Equipm en t Toledo, Oh io What technology—big or N&V:small, simple or complicated—have you implemented in your business to improve operations, reduce cost, or improve inefficiencies? We've implemented a few things at Burkett that have helped us over the last year drive down cost, while enhancing customer and employee satisfaction.We put our vendors on an ACH payment, which has allowed us to better manage our cash position by holding on to funds up until the day they are due. Secondly, we upgraded to Google Business Apps. Google Apps has allowed us to take the entire Microsoft Office experience and put it in the cloud, where we can access our documents, spreadsheets, etc. from any computer in the world.What makes Google even more attractive is that it gives us the ability to have real-time collaboration on documents and shared calendars. Finally, we upgraded our ERP system to TRX. That has been one of the best decisions we've made.We saw sales grow by 15 percent in 2012 and have reduced head count per revenue by 10 percent. Much of that growth is due to our transition as a company to a system-driven organization—a move that has forced us to trust the checks and balances within 1 6 FEDA New s & View s In the last three years, we have expanded our revenue stream from being mainly Internet-based to three solid revenue channels—a web store, a retail store, and Contract and Design. Segmentation keeps are eggs out of one basket and is key, as there are times in any business when one division may not perform as well as another. The other change we've made is to become a datadriven business. Over the years, we've found ourselves making many emotional decisions and sometimes they were right, but often they became a learning experience. Becoming more data-driven has allowed us to make the better decisions on forecasting, staffing, customer satisfaction, and profitability. If you could change one N&V:issue regarding suppliervendor relations with a poof of a wand, what would it be? Two simple words—embrace technology. We hire many people from outside of the foodservice industry and one of their biggest gripes is how far behind the industry and our vendors are in the area of technology. All suppliers should have a structure in place to allow dealers to place orders online, see status, order history, inventory levels, etc. Product and marketing material should be available there as well. Too often we find ourselves in a reactive mode rather than a proactive mode due to information not available as fast as today's world requires. What aspect of your busi- N&V:ness suffered most during the downturn? What did you do to salvage it? We have been pretty fortunate and have not experienced revenue shortages in the economic downturn. What we have seen, though, is the continued decrease of margins in all of our revenue channels. It appears that since the downturn, dealers are sacrificing margins to offset growth requirements. In my opinion,I think we can all do a better job selling on value and our competitive strengths. When a company does not have anything to offer outside of price to its customers, they will always be viewed as a price-first company. In your opinion, what is N&V:the biggest threat on the horizon to your company's viability and what are you doing to counter it? The biggest threat to viability is the lack of differentiation! Most of us dealers sell the same products at relatively the same pricing. In the future, dealers will have to examine what sets them apart from their competitors and focus on widening the gap. Profitability is another major concern. As I mentioned earlier, margins continue to die and without profitability, you risk banks pulling lines of credit, recruiting the best employees, etc. How to grow profitability, while giving your customer the best total value, will continue to be a challenge. continued on page 18

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