On the Society for Foodservice Mangement for Carol Bracken-Tilley

Carol Bracken-Tilley talks Society for Foodservice Management's goals for 2011.

As newly appointed president of the Society for Foodservice Management, Carol Bracken-Tilley, director of Strategic Solutions at Compass Group, spoke to FSD about the challenges and trends she sees for operators and the association in the coming year.

Q. What do you see as the top three challenges for foodservice directors this year and why?

I think we are still facing tough economic times but recovering slowly. Companies are still keeping an eye on foodservice costs in general, whether it’s a subsidized account or costs in catering or how much staff we have. Second, I think there is still this push for wellness. It’s a challenge because we continually have to meet companies’ wellness initiatives, especially in light of new healthcare reform and how that could affect all aspects of the hospitality industry. Third, I think there is still a lot of concern about carbon footprint. We need to focus on how we can continually reduce it inside of the foodservice world, whether it’s through packaging, energy reduction or local procurement of goods. Sustainability in a broad sense is still a major concern.

Q. There was a lot of talk about the economy at the SFM conference. What tips do you have for other operators to combat costs?

Every company has different goals and objectives for reducing costs. Some companies might be concerned with service hour reductions or limiting menus, and others might look at it as an overhaul of how much energy they take in. I believe foodservice is starting to come back in playing an important part in the company’s culture. We lost a little bit of focus on that in the past five years because foodservice seemed to be a quick and easy thing for companies to cut. The foodservice program for a company will hopefully once more become a service that will help attract and retain employees

One thing we have focused on is waste reduction, which I think is something that many companies didn’t focus on a few years ago. Usually in a corporate environment one of the biggest culprits is foodservice waste and reducing it has a lot of cost benefits. Not only does it reduce the cost to the company that is paying to have the waste hauled away, but operations can also reduce costs if there are better tracking tools in the kitchen, which can show we’re purchasing less food and therefore running better food costs.

Q. What do you see as the top trend in foodservice for the next year?

I’d love to have that crystal ball. I think health and wellness is always going to be at the top of the list, at least for the next couple of years, as foodservice is becoming a very integral part in companies’ overall wellness programs. That said, I think technology and the way we communicate with our customers is really rising to the top. Social media is definitely something that the B&I world has been behind on, especially compared to what college and universities have done. I think we have a lot of opportunities in social media to attract our customers into our dining centers.

Q. What are the biggest challenges SFM faces as an association in the coming year and what are your plans to overcome them?

I think the economy has hit many associations, and SFM is no different. We are focusing on building back our membership and making sure the corporate dining industry knows that they have a valuable resource in SFM. The role of the client liaison has changed from being a dedicated liaison role to a role that incorporates many other responsibilities such as facility management, finance or HR. We want to make sure that those people understand that they have a resource in the industry to get educated on corporate foodservice.

Q. What are your goals for your presidency?

We want to increase SFM’s value to its members by continuing to provide industry-specific information. For example, in 2002 a session on the value of corporate foodservice was presented at our national conference. This white paper has been utilized by many in our association but it needs to be updated and supported with more data points such as a productivity study and a foodservice break-even worksheet. These are tools every person in corporate dining should have at their disposal.

Another goal is to make sure we are growing our regional local networking groups. Again, I think this is a by-product of the economy, but we’ve seen more and more people attending the local networking groups, which is proof that people want to network and they want education about corporate foodservice. So building content and developing programming that can be taken around to each group is going to be important for me. We also want to reach out to local sponsors and vendors so they can tap into these groups as well.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
business man smash computer

Foodservice directors spend a lot of time taking care of other people, whether it’s K-12 students who aren’t always eating enough at home, malnourished patients back for return visits or employees squabbling among themselves. That kind of pressure can weigh heavily—and come home from work. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America finds that 83% of men and 72% of women say stress at work carries over into their personal lives, and 50% call staff management their main culprit for workplace stress.

“Stress is very difficult in our world, and work-life balance is very much a...

Industry News & Opinion

Students at an Arkansas high school may have to take creative measures to get a meal, thanks to a school policy that prevents parents from dropping off lunches left at home.

The Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Ark., last week posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that reads, “Stop. If you are dropping off your son’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, equipment, etc., please turn around and exit the building. Your son will learn to problem-solve in your absence.”

While social media opinions on the school’s rule were mixed, some commenters expressed concern that...

Industry News & Opinion

Novato Unified School District in Novato, Calif., has created a new vegetarian grab-and-go item as part of the district’s Meatless Monday initiative, marinij.com reports .

The Fiesta Rice and Bean Shaker, which is served in disposable cups, contains rice, corn, black beans, taco seasoning, corn tortilla chips and romaine lettuce topped with an optional salsa and ranch dressing. It’s also customizable, as students are able to select which ingredients they’d like to include.

The vegetarian shaker is made using produce from a nearby organic garden. Sofie Garcia, an employee in...

Industry News & Opinion

High school students in Dallastown Area School District in Dallastown, Pa., will soon see the addition of live prep stations in their cafeteria, as well as an area where they can access food at any time during the school day.

The district has partnered with Chartwells for the revamp, which will allow students to watch their food being prepared and also includes the addition of new menu items, says the York Dispatch .

Chartwells’ mid-Atlantic dietitian, Aliza Stern, believes these changes will be welcomed by students as they become increasingly interested in different types...

FSD Resources