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Who’s Your Data Management Specialist?

Catersource 2019 in New Orleans was quite the enjoyable event. It was a privilege for me to present on how technology is changing the way we think about menu development. I wanted to thank those who attended my presentation. You were an attentive audience, and it was great discussion.

One of the key points for this year’s Catersource discussion was the need for organization and to think about how your team is structured. As we become more reliant on technology to manage our businesses, data management becomes more crucial. All the systems we use for office solutions—from documents and spreadsheets to advanced event management systems with integrated software solutions—need constant attention.

Here are some of the data points a catering company should be consistently reviewing:

• Active accounts and customer information

• Menu and service offerings

• Production quantities and units

• Pack list information

• Menu costing and prices

• Purchased and active inventory valuation

• Staffing information

• Web inquires and prospects

• Sales metrics, closing rates, and event profitability

“The continual process of data entry, editing, updating and inactivating information is best accomplished when it is someone’s sole responsibility to manage it. Adding this task to a current position is not an effective approach.”

Data management requires a dedicated role

The above bullet points may sound like many of your staff’s current job duties. Their true roles, however, are customer service and execution. Data management and efficiency solutions can simplify these processes, but first someone has to compile and look at the data.

When you load your software onto a server or PC or access it from a cloud-based solution, you are now in a data management situation that lasts as long as you need to access relevant data for your business. The continual process of data entry, editing, updating and inactivating information is best accomplished when it is someone’s sole responsibility to manage it. Adding this task to a current position is not an effective approach.

Whether you are a small or large business, data management is a necessary process that’s not going away. Though software simplifies your process, unfortunately software providers don’t always tell you how to operate these tools that will help you run your business. Software has great recipe writing and production capabilities, but can’t conjure an unknown recipe or list the ingredients you need to purchase. Someone has to input this information.

Having a dedicated data management specialist is the right solution. You may even require more than one specialist depending how dedicated you are to your data. After hiring and training someone for a data management role, you can appoint them with the following tasks:

• Manage invoices, data entry, and event costing

• Edit menus and input any new items and services

• Collect and document recipes by using a recipe management system

• Create custom documents and reports

• Monitor and train on new features and updates

• Provide troubleshooting

• Oversee and edit production information

• Make system updates, ensure necessary password protection and licensing

• Manage security and user access

Creating this position is worth the cost and effort. It will drive growth, especially given the amount of the time team members gain when they are allowed to focus on execution and providing exceptional customer service.

For those of you who are interested in the big takeaways from my lecture at Catersource 2019, you can find them here. You can also browse through previous Catersource recaps and lots of other articles here.

John Reed

Owner, Custom Culinary Solutions, Chicago, IL

John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years’ experience. He is the owner of Customized Culinary Solutions, a culinary consulting firm located in the Chicago Northshore area. He works with restaurant, catering, and foodservice companies to provide the highest quality food possible. His contributions include menu and recipe development, emerging concept development, and transition management for companies introducing culinary and production software programs. His company specializes as an on-demand culinary department supporting out-sourced culinary project management.

An active member of the ACF, he has earned certifications as a Certified Executive Chef, Certified Culinary Administrator, and American Academy of...