Issue 30

A Day in The Life of a US Foodservice Territory Manager and The Chef

A Day in The Life of a US Foodservice Territory Manager and The Chef

We all know when we walk into a restaurant that we will get seated at a table, be given a menu, select what we want to eat and ultimately pay our dining bill. However, many of us do not realize that before the dishes ever get selected for the menu or served to us at our favorite restaurants, there is a very important relationship happening behind the scenes.

That is the relationship between the chef who cooks our favorite dish and the US Food Service Territory Manager who supplies the food for that dish and helps connect the chef with the most updated concepts and ideas. This relationship is the lifeline for our favorite restaurants, cafes, and coffee houses.

We thought it would be interesting to explore what a typical day is like between a US Food Territory Manager and a chef. We invited Corey Rush, a US Foodservice Territory Manager, and Chef Gary Hoffman, owner of Upstream Brewing Company, to share how they work together to prepare for a typical work week.

Rush: “Often, my typical work day is very busy, so at the end of a day I begin preparing for my next day by calling back all my customers who had questions, check emails from my company to keep up on the latest food happenings, and look at the route sheet (how our trucks are routed to get the food to our chefs). Then I consider which brokers I might invite to meet my chefs, to help them stay on top of upcoming food trends.”

Hoffman: “It is important to strategically prepare for the next day and order the right amount of food for our signature dishes. I compare my projected food sales budget against what we are actually selling to see if I am high or low. Then I use an Order Guide to compare food levels that I already have with my projected food sales. This helps me make sure that I don’t run out of a product that goes into something on our menu.”

Besides ordering, how else does a Foodservice TM help your restaurant?

Rush: “Besides taking the food order from the chef, I take the time to ask if he has any special events or menu features coming up for his restaurant. I help him price any new dishes for his menu, and provide new and creative marketing ideas to help him attract new customers. I care about his restaurant. I take the time to listen and be involved with their success. I am, in many ways, their business partner.”

Hoffman: “I not only expect my Foodservice TM to help me with my food orders and pricing, but I let her know what is going on in the marketplace, and I look to her for new and better products. In challenging
economic times, it is vital that my TM is not just an order-taker, but my business partner.”

What makes a long-lasting partnership?

Rush: “As I said before, the key is to listen. By listening to what a chef’s needs are, I can provide him with helpful resources. I go above and beyond the call of duty, but never say I can do something and not do it. I can’t tell you how many times I have cooked for a restaurant’s grand opening, helped them get a refrigerated truck when their power went out to keep their food fresh, or found a product that no one else could. It is getting your hands dirty, rolling up your sleeves and showing that you care about their success and their restaurant.”

Hoffman: “I want a Territory Manager who understands my company’s purchasing history, does tastings with me, reads the same periodicals that I do and brings suggestions every time we meet. She needs to know my menu, listen to why I need a specific product, remind me of seasonal items for my menu and help me negotiate a better price with suppliers. I want someone who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, and most importantly, always asks the question, “Why”?

Next time you go to your favorite restaurant for your favorite dish, remember that behind the scenes are two people working intricately together to keep you coming back for more.

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