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DAWG Talk: Special Skills On-site

Once overlooked and referred to as the institutional side of the restaurant industry, on-site dining remains one of the fastest growing segments of the food service industry. Fortune 500 companies are building facilities and setting high expectations for the contract operator. It is no longer acceptable to have “cafeteria food.” Dining Centers are staffed with culinary trained professionals that have exceptional culinary skills and creativity.

Today, on-site foodservice encompasses a variety of venues that feature a spectrum of services. Typical on-site environments include:

• Full service restaurants including liquor and retail food courts, many with scratch kitchens
• Full alcohol and liquor experience (inventories, ordering, liquor laws)
• Quick serve restaurants (both national and proprietary branding)
• Smoothie shops and coffee bars
• Residential dining, sports pubs, concessions, concert green rooms
• High profile catering functions and conference services
• Convenience stores

On-site foodservice companies serve a diverse customer base on a daily basis. An on-site operation can serve employees, corporate staff, corporate dignitaries, campus visitors, conference patrons, students and faculty, athletic patrons, friends and family. It’s not uncommon for dining managers to have served Presidents, Ambassadors, Congressmen, private industry leaders and celebrities.

Traits found in successful on-site dining managers include:

Budget & Finance - most contract management accounts operate on a Profit & Loss basis; each location is responsible for weekly P&L's, managers are financially adept and tend to participate in the preparation of budgets for the fiscal year
Work ethic - most managers work a typical 50-60 hour work week
Guest Service – high level of service in diverse environments
Marketing skills - marketing plans are created at the local level to drive sales and participation. They also promote entrepreneurial drive and creativity in the workplace.
Culinary Skills - menu development, cycle and retail, culinary training, food cost controls and merchandising, scratch kitchens
Event Planning and Implementation – Open Houses, corporate parties and new product launches are planned, coordinated and executed by the contract manager.
Client Relations - manage client owned equipment and premises, as well as relationship with client and customers; political nature invite resiliency
High Volume – most on-site foodservice professionals manage multi-million dollar volume
Staffing & Scheduling – Associate Managers, full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees
Purchasing and Procurement - food stocks, disposables, chemicals and equipment procurement, knowledge of maintenance & repair processes and procedures
Negotiation – most managers are experienced in contract negotiations, price increases, labor negotiations
Human Resource Management and Training - responsibility of the local manager with corporate guidance

On-site managers wear many hats in the execution of daily service. They are Floor Managers, Purchasing Managers, Kitchen Managers, Catering Managers, Human Resource Managers and Office Managers every day.

Financially speaking, on-site managers are sharp operators. They count pennies every day, not dollars. They work in highly structured and systematic environments. They are very dedicated to their client and their guests. On-site managers are extremely skilled individuals that are adaptable to a variety of foodservice environments.

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