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Foodservice Consultant publishes Cupola Consulting article

We are proud to announce that the first article of our series on maintaining professional standards in foodservice has been published in the Q119 EMEA issue of FCSI’s Foodservice Consultant magazine. The first article is about training and development in the foodservice industry, and what employees, employers, trade associations and recruiters should be doing to improve their standards.

Foodservice Consultant is the multiple award-winning magazine from the Foodservice Consultant Society International. The Q119 issue is available here as a digital edition:, and the article is on page 81.

If you want to cut straight to our article, we’ve repeated it below:

Training & Development   

Why, in an era of increased availability of, and access to, training and development do we see a diminution of capability? Don’t we really care, can’t we afford it or is training and professionalism just not high enough on our collective agendas?

This is not the place to talk about individual instances, albeit I can see that we are suffering across Hospitality from what looks like a lack of leadership, training and professionalism in many companies and disciplines.

The foodservice equipment market has traditionally worked on tight margins and manufacturing was normally undercapitalised due to relatively low volumes and high competition. Prime importers  enjoyed stronger margins but this has been eroded over years by weak currency and greater competition, some of it from internet trading; a whole new area of misunderstanding.

The majority of users (with honourable exceptions) neither know nor particularly care about the equipment they use and prefer to buy to a price rather than a specification. This, coupled with demands for shorter manufacturing lead times and longer warranties results in margin and profitability downgrades.

The resulting spiral is often an environment where a lack of investment in training becomes endemic, none more so than in general business skills and disciplines. Sales people may possess excellent product knowledge but are rarely trained on how to understand a P&L statement, read a Balance Sheet, grasp HR principles or even how to market themselves.

We might expect that it is typically the family run or  businesses that are unwilling to develop their people leading to the inevitable lack of progress and forward business planning. However, several of our home grown and well respected national and international companies have looked outside of the industry for senior management. Why?

 There are many reasons why and if I look at personal career responsibilities here are some reasons why we are not getting it right.

On occasion when I have interviewed candidates for even  senior positions within a business, some of whom are presented via recruiters, their cv’s contain grammatical and spelling mistakes, they’re often not current, they don’t adequately represent the candidates’ abilities and regularly don’t even reflect the needs of the position for which they are applying.

If we’re not getting these basic fundamentals right, it’s no wonder Hospitality in its’ wider sense is missing talent.

This is a criminal shame when even a small amount of preparation can tailor an application precisely to that which is required.

Here’s my quick checklist for just four areas of engagement…

Individuals. Learn as much about your own discipline as possible but don’t be afraid to expand your horizons into wider spheres. Join a professional body, take some courses and invest in yourself. Find a mentor or coach that can support you over the longer term. Expect to be challenged by them and view it constructively.  It’s your career so it’s your responsibility.

Employers. Invest in training and don’t just pick your most talented individuals. Those of more modest ambition may contribute equally and be more loyal to your organisation with a little investment. Use manufacturers’  and Trade Associations’ resources. It’s not only about passing an exam and getting a certificate (although that’s nice, too) it’s also about meeting others and experiencing work from their perspectives. When someone does succeed, rejoice with them.

Trade Associations. Use your size and reach to provide cost effective training that can be subsidised by members’ subscriptions. Market them relentlessly to your members.

Recruiters. Before you pick up the phone, carry out your own research into target companies’ policies so you can represent your candidates to the best of your/their ability. Get the cv right for the job in question and give them test interviews if they’re rusty or uncertain. Earn your fees. If that depth of support is not within your remit, find someone that can help.

Career professionalism is about approaching every challenge with consistency and rigour and that holds good whether you are junior or senior in an organisation. None of us is ever too old to learn something new or to reacquaint ourselves with the basics.

Let me close with this age old cliche.

CFO to HR : “What happens if we train our people and they leave?”

HR to CFO : “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

Ed Loughton