4 ways operators are maximizing their productivity in 2017

performance level

With a new year comes new initiatives, goals and resolutions that add more bullet points to already lengthy to-do lists. But according to the laws of nature and science, something’s got to give. Here are a few ways operators are getting the most out of themselves and their teams in 2017.

1. Getting schooled

college orientation

Elon University’s dining team in Elon, N.C., tries to incorporate dining into every aspect of the university experience—developing classes based in dining halls as well as spaces and events where the community can come together over food.

T.J. Bowie, coordinator for residential campus dining and engagement, is enrolled in a global and corporate communications class so he can learn to more effectively promote Elon Dining’s offerings. “We do all these amazing things, and often, the news doesn’t get to our stakeholders,” Bowie says. 

2. Updating tech

technology finger window

Leveraging data and streamlined technology, Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. in Mishawaka, Ind., is entering the new year with a new back-of-house computer system to digitize its ordering processes. Now, foodservice managers use a website for all of their ordering needs, rather than emailing spreadsheets to the school district's central warehouse, as they did in the past. “This gives us a lot more data that we didn’t have before,” says Jill Riggs, director of foodservice. “We now know how many cases of lettuce all the units have ordered on a particular day.” 

At the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the dining team is taking a different approach to cook-chill technology. The operation is renovating an old kitchen into a hot commissary for soups, sauces and meats that will help supply KU’s expansion of hot grab-and-go options. Unlike traditional cook-chill systems, the unit will produce every evening for next-day service to maximize freshness.

3. Mastering multitasking

businessman multitasking

Juggling more roles than you have appendages is just part of managing an operation, says Joe Alonzo, executive chef of Harrogate Life Care in Lakewood, N.J., who uses every gadget at his disposal to stay on top of his many duties. In particular, Alonzo takes advantage of his smartwatch for quick communication, timers and appointment reminders.

4. Optimizing HR

human resources teamwork

At Penn-Harris-Madison, the biggest hurdle is finding and retaining qualified employees, Riggs says. She plans to optimize her operation by doubling down on team training and preparing staff for leadership roles. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources