CYNDI GLOODT has transformed the foodservice at NORTHERN TRUST BANK by;
• ELIMINATING paper receipts and implementing recycling programs, compostable takeout containers and trayless dining in catering as part of a comprehensive sustainability program
• MERGING Sodexo's wellness program with the client's nGood Health program, which included creating a wellness-branded takeout station
• MANAGING a face-lift of a dated café, which included a fresh coat of paint, new signage, seating areas and new stations
• REDUCING overall costs to her client organization two years in a row, which in 2010 translated into a savings of more than $125,000
Cyndi Gloodt, Sodexo, Northern Trust BankCyndi Gloodt’s enthusiasm infects everyone around her. As general manager for Sodexo at Northern Trust Bank in Chicago, Gloodt’s ability to work with her clients and her drive and passion for what she does has revolutionized the foodservice at Northern Trust Bank, according to Julius Horace, vice president/property manager and café services liaison.
“Cyndi has literally taken a foodservice operation, which was not using current industry best practices, and brought the operation into modern times,” Horace says. “Cyndi consistently shows increased overall sales revenue and a noticeable improvement in offerings and service. Due to her input and ideas, our seating areas have now become the place for informal meetings with staff, clients and guests. Our shop is no longer a cafeteria but truly a café.”
Gloodt says her success with clients is what has made the difference in her career.
“I go to my clients with ideas,” Gloodt says. “I do the research ahead of time and I engage them. I know there are a lot of clients out there who don’t want to be involved. I figure out how to reach them better and figure out what is important to them. For example, I had a client who was really a numbers guy, so anytime I wanted to make a change, I would make sure I had facts and figures to present to him. I think it’s all about knowing your clients and knowing what’s important to them.”
Gloodt learned how to deal with clients during her more than 20 years in foodservice.
“I was going to school for business at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, and really felt like it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Gloodt says. “I really liked to cook so my aunt suggested I go to culinary school. After graduating from Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago, I mostly worked in off-premise catering. Another friend of mine was working with Marriott and said I should come work with them as a manager. So I got a job with them and I worked with Marriott, which became Sodexo, for 10 years. After a 10-year stint in other things, I came back to work for Sodexo at Northern Trust. I have a great client. I’m lucky that I am able to have a client that is very focused on sustainability, so I’m able to really help them with all of their efforts.”
Sustainability: It’s these sustainability efforts that Gloodt says she is most proud of.
“We got rid of all foam from all three locations,” Gloodt says. “We replaced all takeout containers with compostable disposables. We started a recycling program in the front and back of the house. We have recycled about 70,000 pounds of material from our three locations. I installed single-pull napkin dispensers. I got rid of all the plastic trays from catering. We installed water filters. We do single-serve cutlery dispensers. One of the biggest things we did was stop printing paper receipts. We only print them on request and that saved us about 23,000 pounds of paper per year.”
Gloodt says next on her list is to eliminate paper cups. She says she sees people take more than 200 paper cups a day.
“That’s ridiculous,” Gloodt says. “Plus, all of those are being thrown out. I want to replace them with reusable items. I’m constantly going through the kitchen and saying, ‘you’ve got garbage in the recycling, you need to reeducate your staff.’ Education is always a challenge.”
Health & wellness: Education is also a factor with Gloodt’s efforts to sustain a healthy eating program. One challenge Gloodt tackled early on was merging Sodexo’s wellness program, Your Health Your Way, with Northern Trust’s wellness program, which is called nGood Health. Gloodt says they decided to partner up with the client’s wellness program because it created consistency with the other aspects of nGood Health.
“We use Your Health Your Way recipes, it’s just under the nGood Health name,” Gloodt says. “We recently opened an nGood Health takeout station that offers grab-and-go sandwiches and salads that include all nutritional information. It’s a one-stop nutritional station where there are healthy snacks and beverages.”
Gloodt says she also added a Your Health Your Way nutrition link on the client’s intranet Web site. The department also has participated in wellness fairs, had a dietitian come in and present on different nutrition topics and hosted healthy cooking demos.
“We’ve also brought in low-fat muffins, and all of our soups use low-sodium soup bases,” Gloodt says. “On our hot entrée line we always feature a Your Health Your Way entrée and then at the nGood Health station it’s all sandwiches, salads, snacks, etc. Once a month that station turns into a fresh sushi bar.”
Gloodt says the biggest challenge she’s had at the account overall has been marketing.
“I’m really limited where I can market,” Gloodt says. “The company doesn’t allow us to send e-mail blasts. We can only market within our dining rooms. Our building population, between the three buildings, is about 2,600 people. We probably have about 40% participation. How do we reach the other 60%? Even the 40% that come in here don’t notice the signs and everything. For example, when we kicked off the sushi bar we were marketing it for days and the day of the sushi bar I was standing in front saying, ‘we have a fresh sushi bar today,’ and people were saying ‘oh, I didn’t know that.’ Then the next day people say, ‘we didn’t know you were [offering sushi]. I have been working with Sodexo on a text message program that has been successful on college campuses. I have volunteered us to be the test site for corporate. I think text messaging will be a good way to get our marketing out.”
Face-lift: Before Gloodt came to Northern Trust two years ago, the account had had the same manager for 25 years. So when Gloodt arrived, the café was in need of a little TLC.
“Initially my client was going to put money in the budget to totally redo the café, but they had to take it out of the budget,” Gloodt says. “So I said, ‘why don’t we just do some paint?’ It was all very white and very dated. I had them close up some walls and ordered new posters and signage. We did some simple things, but it’s made a huge impact. They did have money in the budget for one section, and we used it for new seating in the dining room because it was really bad. I had some mixed-use seating put in like soft seating, some benches and some high boys. We were also able to recycle furniture from an account that was closing. Plus, we donated all the furniture that we got rid of.”
Gloodt also spearheaded the addition of two new concepts at the main location: Caliente and Pizza, Pasta, Panini. Caliente, which is modeled after Chipotle, offers burritos, burrito bowls, tacos and taco salads, along with some specials like a turkey mole taco. She also added a Top Your Own station to help with lines in the grill area.
“The Top Your Own station emerged because it was an area next to the grill that was being underutilized,” Gloodt says. “In order to alleviate the grill line we decided to move the grill toppings to the Top Your Own station. There were also two soup wells that we weren’t using, so we have nacho cheese and chili in the soup wells. Now customers can top their own nachos and baked potatoes. The deli line also needed help. Originally there were premade sandwiches in the front and custom-made sandwiches were farther down.
We saw that if we switched them, those customers who wanted premade sandwiches could start their own line instead of joining one, which has made the deli line move much faster. We also have someone expediting out there so they can direct people to the proper line.”
These and other menu changes have significantly increased sales, says Gloodt, which in turn has saved the client money on its subsidy.
“We have gotten back a lot of customers who hadn’t been to the café for years,” she says. “The past two years we’ve been able to save the client money, last year we saved $125,000. The refresh of the café helped too. It looked like a 1980s cafeteria, not very warm. The refresh was not only for the infrastructure but also for the food.”