Online Advertising with Foodservice Director & Restaurant Business

Latest online Foodservice Rewards ads targeted to operators…

While the message remains the same  to operators – Foodservice Rewards is free to join and easy to participate in – much of the former print advertising has moved online with our Foodservice Director and Restaurant Business partnership.  The goal is to remind existing members to enter codes and to engage new operators to join.  Note the use of our branded sponsor logos to draw attention.  Below is an example of the online ads currently running.


4th Annual Free & Easy Party a Huge Success!

4th Annual Free & Easy Party was enjoyed by all…


The 4th Annual Free & Easy Party during NACUFS in Baltimore was a huge success!  Foodservice Rewards partnered with Foodservice Director to bring 120 College Foodservice Directors together for an evening of dining  and networking at Pazo restaurant.  Sponsors included Kraft, Rich’s, Heinz, Neil Jones Food Company and Sara Lee and many chose to showcase products during the cocktail hour.

Foodservice Rewards awarded thousands of bonus points and 1 Free MenuDirections Conference Registration to event attendees. The winners were:

  • 20,000 Bonus Points – Kyleen Lewis – West Virginia University
  • 30,000 Bonus Points – Kelvin Bergsten – Virginia Tech University
  • 50,000 Bonus Points – Debbie Griffo – Syracuse University
  • 1 Free 2015 MenuDirections Conference Registration – Bill Laychur – Pennsylvania State University

Next year’s event will be held in Indianapolis!

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FoodService Director to Partner at NACUFS

Free & Easy Ad featured in Foodservice Director Magazine…

The fourth annual Free & Easy Party will be held in Baltimore during the NACUFS Annual Conference.  This year, FoodService Director Magazine will co-host the networking dinner designed to bring the Foodservice Rewards program to life for college operators.  Below is an advertisement promoting the event which will run in the April and May issues of FoodService Director.  Sponsors this year include Kraft, Rich’s, Heinz, Sara Lee, and Neil Jones Food Company.

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ACF Chefs Gather in Las Vegas

Chefs use points for travel to the ACF Conference..

Over 1,500 chefs, cooks, students, and foodservice professionsals gathered in Las Vegas in July to network and enhance their professional development.  Foodservice Rewards had a dedicated booth which gave us a great platform to meet some of our chef customers, promote our ongoing partnership with the American Culinary Federation, and support our attending sponsors Nestle’ and Unilever.

Foodservice Community Ambassador - Chef Keith Esbin

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Most Valuable Operators – Engaging Brokers to Drive Sales

MVO transactional data is now being transferred directly into broker’s CRM systems…

Foodservice Rewards helps manufacturer partners understand their down the street business.  Most Valuable Operators are the largest customers – the operators a sales team or broker should be visiting.   For the first time, Foodservice Rewards sponsors are now sharing MVO customers and their transactions directly into the sales agent’s own customer relationship management systems.   For the initial test, Foodservice Rewards partnered with Foodservice Enablers at the request of Basic American Foods to deposit the data into the Elite Associates Sales Portal.  King & Prince Seafood quickly saw the value and added their data to the program.  After working with the data for a few months, Phil Ledesma , Corporate Client Manager for Elite Associates, reported during the annual sponsor meeting that the data is helping them be more efficient by:

  1. Identifying declining operators to catch brand switching
  2. Identifying operators to cross-sell to
  3. Providing another tool to close the sale

With permission from sponsors, data will continue to be shared with sales agents through the Foodservice Enablers broker sales portal.  Foodservice Rewards is also working with Easy Operator/AFS Technologies and others to develop similar software providing MVO transactional data to sales agents across the foodservice industry.

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DSR and “Street” Operator loyalty

DSR’s will often will be paid out on a spiff and not even know where it came from…Gain loyalty directly with the operator to protect branded business

The Distributor Sales Representative (DSR) is one of the most trusted resources to the independent “street” operator.   Generally, the DSR is awarded a higher financial incentive for selling their own brands versus a manufacturer brand.  For years, manufacturers have tried to garner loyalty from the DSR by offering “spiffs” for increased case sales.  According to the Association of Foodservice Distributor Representatives DSR Insights, here’s the harsh reality:

Most DSRs have a “default” recommendation in their brain for your product category (likely the house brand). You might distract them with the occasional spiff… but they often have 12-15 spiffs available to them at anytime.  In fact, they often will be paid out on a spiff and not even know where it came from.

AFDR argues that DSR’s can be loyal, however building loyalty should be tied to training (knowledge) about your products, then supplemented with ongoing, consistent communications about your brand. 

Like the previous new products post, AFDR offers great suggestions, but also re-enforces how difficult it is to influence the DSR.   The DSR and distributor are critical to ensuring delivery, however reliance on them to “sell”  manufacturer brands remains fraught with challenges.

So how does a manufacturer reach the “street” operators if you cannot rely on the DSR?  Hopefully, the manufacturer’s sales agents or direct sales force can reach the largest volume “street” operators on a regular basis.  Foodservice Rewards can reach these same Tier 1 customers (regularly and consistently) plus the Tier 2 and Tier 3 operators that can drive manufacturer sales in aggregate.  Foodservice Rewards provides a turn-key ongoing customized communication stream to each of the over 100,000 “street” OPERATOR participants to garner LOYALTY for the brands that feature our yellow reward stickers.  Program sponsors that develop operator loyalty to their brands, then protect their business from distributor/house brand conversion.


Restaurant Industry Today & Tomorrow

As we look ahead to 2012, most industry observers believe that we will have to scratch and claw to achieve growth. Let’s make a resolution to change one thing we are doing in our business today, then set a measurable goal against it!

The restaurant industry continues to struggle in the face of the lagging economy, rising commodity prices, and reduced consumer confidence.  However, according to the National Restaurant Association, the industry is on target to record sales of $604 billion in 2011, a 3.6 percent increase compared to 2010’s revenue levels, though still below 2005-2006 levels. In contrast, Chicago-based market research firm Technomic projects the industry will realize a 0.6 percent decline in sales for 2011 (see previous post).

Technomic conducted a study of 500 consumers with many indicating a continued lack of confidence in financial recovery and an intention to limit or reduce restaurant spending in 2012.   So, as we look ahead to 2012, most industry observers believe that we will have to scratch and claw to achieve growth.  It remains a “take share” environment across the industry – foodservice taking from retail -distributors taking from other distributors, sales agencies taking from other agencies, manufacturers taking from manufacturers, and restaurants taking from restaurants.   Consolidation will continue.   Cost cutting without investment in more efficient technology will hinder results.  Those who continue to do “business as usual” will likely struggle and lose share.

Whatever your place in the foodservice market, if you are not the low-cost leader or a true innovator, then understanding the needs and wants of your customer base and adjusting accordingly will help you win.  Foodservice Rewards offers operators a way to get more when they purchase brands.  The program offers manufacturers an extremely efficient way to know their operator customers – not just the big ones.  Next year, Foodservice Rewards will be celebrating our 10th anniversary of delivering measurable results for our sponsors.  Many in our industry tend to hang on to “old ways” of doing things when we know they are neither effective nor measurable, but rather they keep us “busy”.    As we look to 2012, let’s all make a resolution to try something new and set a measurable goal against it!


What to expect in 2012?

The Foodservice market is projected to be flat. It’s a “steal share” environment for marketers, but Foodservice Rewards can help you differentiate…

Technomic recently published the 2011/2012 Foodservice Industry Projections.  As you might expect, foodservice industry “real growth” is projected to remain anemic. Nominal growth appears to be driven by menu price inflation.

So what does this mean to foodservice manufacturers who need to grow? 

At a recent IFMA Forecast and Outlook Seminar, Technomic presented two key ideas to compete in the current environment –  share growth and competitive differentiation.

How can Foodservice Rewards help?

Use Foodservice Rewards to differentiate from competition.  In aggregate, Foodservice Rewards members redeem about 400,000 codes per week. Members look for the yellow Foodservice Rewards label and would like to earn points on additional products (click link to our social community to read what members say… New Products in Foodservice Rewards). Foodservice Rewards provides a way to differentiate from competitors that aren’t part of the program, especially distributor label products.

Leverage Foodservice Rewards redemption data to profile “best customers” and grow share through targeted acquisition. Foodservice Rewards Sponsors gain visibility to operator purchasing behavior via code redemptions that are reported weekly. Sponsors have insight to the recency, frequency, and monetary value of purchases by operator –the building blocks of customer valuation. With this approach, Sponsors can profile their “best customers” and target more “like customers” from the thousands of Foodservice Rewards members that haven’t yet redeemed from them –and are likely buying from a competitor.

Time for a new approach?  Maybe it’s time review new ideas to drive growth during challenging times.

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Brand Shopping is Tough on Distributor Sites

Just 25 percent of restaurant operators who order online through distributor website “always” or “often” search by brand, with many operators complaining that sites make it difficult to locate the specific brands they want.

Foodservice operators have difficulty finding and placing orders for specific brands on distributor Web sites, according to a new report by Datassential.  Titled “How Operators Buy,” the study found just 25 percent of restaurant operators who order online “always” or “often” search by brand, with many operators complaining that sites make it difficult to locate the specific brands they want. This opens the door to preferred brands being ignored when it matters most – at the time of purchase, according to the report.

Another hurdle for manufacturers is brand inconsistency on distributor ordering sites, according to Datassential. The company advises that the industry needs to work towards uniform presentation of brand names and product descriptions on these sites.  If abbreviations are used, they should be done in a way that is intuitive, easy to remember and aggressively promoted.

As GS1 standards move us toward consistent presentation of our products, manufacturers can get a head-start by partnering with Profile or other recognized methods of standardization.


Large Broadliners Improve, but Independent Operators decline

Signs of foodservice industry recovery, but reduced customer traffic went on too long for many independents…

According to ID Report, the nation’s 50 largest broadline distributors collectively broke the $100 billion mark in 2010, growing sales 5 percent over sales reported the previous year and performing well compared to foodservice as a whole in 2010 up only .7%.   The report goes on to state that none of the top 10 distributors were the largest gainers.

Related, NPD published their latest Spring Recount (April 2010 – March 2011) which showed that US units declined by 2% with 8,650 unit losses coming from independent restaurants.  The same report indicated that spending at restaurants grew by 2% in the year ending May 2011 though traffic counts were stable.


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