I have been working in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years and in the school foodservice arena for over 10 of those years. When I started as a restaurant guest service manager at Walt Disney World, we had very rigid yearly evaluations and accountability policies. One of those pieces was that we had to work with another line of business to accomplish tasks. For instance, food and beverage worked with merchandising to improve the guest experience. I took it upon myself to solve an issue that we had experienced all summer. It rained almost every afternoon and the guests would hang out in our restaurant and not go into the park. This caused congestion and slowed down our sales drastically. So I asked the merchandising department to set up a cart every afternoon when it rained, to sell ponchos to our guests. I know you’re probably thinking, what a great idea, why didn’t anybody else think of that? Yes, this should have been a no-brainer, but it would not have evolved if it was not for different lines of our business working together.
I have had numerous vendors ask me the same question: “How can we get better engagement from K-12 operators? It seems the only time we get responses is when they need something, such as food or giveaways, for meetings”. I know this is not the norm for every district but I have experienced this myself in the form of others not returning a phone call or email that was sent. I do not take it personally, but I want to help all of us be successful by working together for the sake of our end users, “the students.”
Here are some quick tips to work efficiently together.
1. Implement a 48 hour rule. Everyone can personally set a goal to return a call or email within 48 hours, even if you have a person from your team do it. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
2. You can develop a scripted response until you have time to fully follow up with that person. Type your response, save it as a draft, and send it to that person if you are too busy to send a new email every time.
3. You have to give to get. If a manufacturer, broker, or consultant has supported your school district financially or, the most valuable commodity, “time wise,” please try and support them. We have to make the entire industry successful.
Working with other lines of business can be mutually beneficial because we all can work together to create products and services to take companies and school districts to the next level. Remember, two heads are better than one.