Third Annual "The Best"

Employees

Training exercise we’ve done
DISC Training, which is training based on a four-quadrant behavioral model to examine the behavior of individuals in their environment or within a specific situation. Armed with the knowledge relating to how people respond to information and situations, people can transform their interactions and it provides a platform for understanding and improved communication.
—Tod Nissle, vice president of operations for Compass Group, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash.

Employee recognition program I’ve seen
The Black Linen Award program was developed after a university’s executive unique customer service experience. Ernie Huff, associate vice president of student financial and administrative services, was eating breakfast in a hotel, wearing dark slacks. After the waiter took his order, the waiter removed the white linen napkin that had been on the table. When the waiter returned, he placed a black linen napkin on the table. “Why?” Huff asked. The waiter said, “I noticed you are wearing dark slacks and the white napkin would have left lint on them.” [Huff] shared this experience with us to illustrate that great service is a result of three things: anticipating customer needs, finding solutions to those needs and acting promptly. To recognize an employee for his/her outstanding commitment to exceptional service, recipients of the recognition receive a beautiful black linen napkin encased in a wooden frame.
—Rafi Taherian, executive director of Yale Dining, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

The best thing I’ve learned from a younger colleague
How to exploit social media in marketing to our customers.
—Bill Marks, director of food and nutrition services, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis

Team-building exercise we’ve done
Our managers prepare menu items in teams at our meetings. It gives them a chance to interact on the best way to prepare for why the kids would or wouldn’t like the items and what changes could make the item healthier or taste better. Anytime you can have your team interact about changes in your department, the change usually has a better result.
—Gail Koutroubas, food service director, Andover Public Schools, Andover, Mass.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
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About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

Ideas and Innovation
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Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years...

Managing Your Business
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Just eight days before Dec. 1, when operators would have to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rules, a federal judge in Texas slapped an injunction on the regulation. The move indefinitely halted the rules that would have doubled the overtime threshold to $47,476, affecting nearly 4.2 million workers, according to the DOL. For some operators, the move was too little, too late. Now, they have to answer to employees who had been briefed on promised wage increases.

Kansas Memorial Union at the University of Kansas in Lawrence made changes ahead of the deadline...

Ideas and Innovation
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With a budget and timeline in place, and the support of the university behind them, the foodservice team at the University of Chicago Medical Center was ready to get rolling with the renovation of one of its patient services kitchens. The facility, which services the hospital’s Center for Care and Discovery and Comer Children’s Hospital, was tripling in size to serve two additional patient floors, to the tune of $9 million. But that didn’t mean immediately jumping in with steel and screws.

“First, we cut out scaled pieces of paper and moved things around,” says Elizabeth Lockwood,...

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