September 2006 Edition
Business Reviews: A Step Toward Success

Taking a good look at a foodservice operation – from menu costing to plate presentation – is the first step in improving efficiency, solving problems and boosting profitability. That’s why Sysco offers a Business Review program to its customers, free of charge.


“The process itself is designed to help the customer succeed,” says Scott Wagner, Business Review Leader for Sysco Edmonton. “The review is all about the customer.”


The process is a customized look at menu engineering, product costing, food and safety training, service training, new product introduction and more.


Once a review is booked, a customer talks to a business review associate about goals for the review, and any challenges the business may be facing. The three main areas usually addressed in a review are menu engineering, staff training and development, and control systems, says Dan Martin, Director of Customer Relations for Sysco Food Services of Central Ontario.


Menu engineering is a scientific approach to identifying which menu items bring in the most money, Martin explains. In order to develop the most profitable menu possible, Sysco brand specialists analyse the menu as well as the customer’s purchasing history to find places where revenues can be increased. Associates then discuss ideas, alternatives and possible new product introductions with the customer.


Sysco’s Corporate Chefs then prepare foods and customize products for the customer. The Chef also works directly with the customer to discover other product areas that the customer may be interested in, and then suggests meal presentations or creates a unique dressing or product pairing for that restaurant, says Wagner.


Working with a corporate chef is an excellent opportunity for smaller operators, who may not have that kind of expertise in house, says Ellie Newell, Business Review Manager for Sysco Vancouver.

“Even if they do, it’s a third party with fresh eyes,” she says of a Corporate Chef’s input, adding that Chefs will even follow up with customers, visiting their facility and observing their kitchen, and offering advice on anything from the line to plate presentation.


Review customers also have access to educational resources, such as a series of educational modules on PowerPoint, Newell says. Operators can choose from a dozen topics, including Food Costs 101, Menu Engineering and Back of House.


Newell has had tremendous positive feedback from operators who have had Business Reviews. “Customers can’t say enough about going through the process,” she says.


The final phase of the review is the development of an action plan with two or three key points to implement, Martin says. He adds that reviews should be scheduled regularly, and that they get more productive each time.


“We run reviews more as a partner, openly sharing ideas and thoughts,” he says. “It’s not about shaving fifty cents off an order. It’s about generating more income for the restaurant through menu, training and staff development.”