Connecting Food Service and Sales
Being an Assistant Manager has taught me a lot of useful skills. I’ve learned many things from how to write out schedules to communication during the launch of new product.
Recently, I noticed the connection between being an Assistant Manager and working in Sales.
To maintain customer retention, you have to keep a solid schedule! It’s not just about keeping a good image. Customers rely on you to be able to provide exactly what they’re paying for. You’re providing a needed service.
Shortly after my training, my General Manager handed me a planner and told me to utilize it to the best of my ability. Before that time, I never really needed any scheduling device. However, for me to complete my job successfully, I would have to implement the system.
Much like in sales, you have to keep a timely schedule to meet the needs of your clients, your company, and you. I personally use Google Calendar to schedule out all of the important meetings, training, inventory counts, and so many other things that I’m responsible for. I highly recommend this software for its easy integration between mobile use, email, and desktop functions.
In sales, keeping a productive schedule is key to staying on top of your game. Without it, you can easily fall victim to forgetting important tasks or obligations that could lead to a client loss.
At Panera, we follow specific timeframes for specific menu items. If we neglect the timeframe, we will not have the product ready for our guests. During my early days as an Assistant Manager, I failed to start preparing soups at the appropriate time. What ended up happening was that when our lunch hour rolled around, we lost considerable business due to not having a staple food item available. I quickly saw the impact of what the schedule offers. It can make or break your ability to provide the service advertised.
Communication & Feedback
Communication is one of the simplest and arguably, most important life skills that we can master. You’re conveying information from you to your client. Many times in my role, my job is communicating with our guests when we’re out of something they ordered. It would be easy to get frustrated in those situations, but it wouldn’t be beneficial. Using the skills that I’ve picked up, I’ve successfully coordinated alternative menu items that meet the guests’ needs and satisfy their desires. The outcome would have been very different without using proper communication.
Communication is also invaluable while giving and receiving feedback. “Attack the problem, not the person,” is the philosophy that I have always tried to follow. Communication is one of the key factors in being able to give feedback effectively.
This is true in Sales as well. Communication and feedback are both incredibly important to the success of your pitch. If you’re approaching a customer and lack communication, it will be more difficult for you to create the needed bridge. Likewise, giving/receiving feedback from other members of the sales team will only bolster your abilities in the long run.
When you’re in the position of providing a service to a guest, you need to uphold that standardized image. Without that, your guests aren’t going to have that familiarity. At Panera, we expect our associates to create each sandwich and salad the same way, every time. The primary reason why is consistency. Consistency to us means that we give our guests exactly what they ordered without fail.
This is similar to sales because you’re creating the environment for your client to walk in feeling well informed, without being attacked, and confident in what they’re purchasing.
There are so many more areas of Panera that I can expand in. The experience has taught me so much about what it means to be a leader and lead the cafe in giving our best to our guests. Whether you’re creating the perfect environment for customers to explore menu items, or you’re up-selling a new menu item altogether, the skills can easily be transferable.