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Culinary OS

Guiding Teams To The Future Of Food: New Tech Means New Opportunities

May 5, 2023

Food industry professionals never cease to amaze. Passionate for hospitality, they always get the work done. In the heat of the kitchen, and despite being crunched on all sides, the work ethic, endurance, and willpower, highlights an incredible work culture in food. All that said, we are finding that a food team's greatest strength can sometimes also be their biggest weakness. In this article we'll explore the challenges that prevent teams from innovating.

There are many moments in the culinary world where there’s nothing to do but roll up your sleeves, to get past a challenge. But when teams can’t let go of the way they've always done it, they miss out on finding a better way to complete their work, even if the business, or organization requires it.

As the founder of sales at Galley, I’ve encountered many organizations that needed help, but turned away the helping hand. Food is a low margin industry, with high employee churn from burnout, a revolving door of talent, constant competitive landscape shifts, businesses walking a fine line of success or failure.

In many cases, it’s been my job to be a voice for the voiceless, a perspective, an advisor, with open ears and eyes, who’s far away enough to see the smoke, notice the bottlenecks, and raise the alarm to action and to expedite. 

Here are signals that an organization is in trouble. They're too deep into the weeds, they cannot see the future of food, or even imagine a better way. It's unlikely they'll make it.

Food Technology Is All About Helping The Right Teams, 🥧 Slicing The Pie, Without Crumbling The Cookie 🍪 

When you build an operation piece by piece over time, teams create emotional attachments to those systems and processes. Early on, this is an advantage, because it glues everyone together with a common goal. When this gets baked into an entire organization, it can become a challenge. It makes change difficult, even if it’s the best path forward, because the momentum of the organization overpowers the intuition of the individuals who know something needs to change.

Organizational Momentum

“Thank you for reaching out, but we built our own system…”

I once spoke with the IT team of a large noncommercial foodservice provider (Top 50) that was right in the middle of this situation. The IT folks had been tasked with building their own internal tool for menu planning, recipe development, and costing. It was going to be the great solution that enabled the organization to live out their mission in all the best ways. Plus they knew their own processes, so it would be exactly what they needed.

Unfortunately, the tool performed its bare minimum functions, but was far less usable than everyone had hoped. Some individuals told us how much stress the tool added to their day, and that something needed to change.

There was intense internal pressure that made the internal tool become a money pit. They had invested so much time and money into it… it was meant to be a symbol of their future, and it was unthinkable to pull the plug.

You could tell that the idea of switching to something else wasn’t a cold business decision, but it was friction against the heart of the organization as a whole. The IT team eventually told us “No”. They decided not to use Galley and stick with their internal tool, despite its cost to the organization, requiring hours upon hours of work at every kitchen location they operated (the opposite of what they intended originally).

A couple of years later, a different department from the same foodservice provider reached out and told us how much they were still suffering from this internal tool. The tool had evolved, but it was still nowhere near what they envisioned. This culinary and operations team was highly motivated for change, took the initiative and risk to launch Galley in a few locations…, and much to the initial concerns of the IT Team, the highly successful results proved: they could do a whole lot more in their culinary operations with fewer resources, less stress, and better outcomes for customers.

“This is exactly the solution we need to make our culinary teams more successful…”

Soon after, that company integrated Galley into their entire culinary organization.

From the outside, it was so clear to me that this business, and every person in it, was one or two degrees of separation from the root cause…a smoldering fire that could not be put out, as it was their own fire. They couldn’t keep up. Their internal tool slowed everyone down across hundreds of locations.

Also Read: Culinary OS: Explaining The New Push For A Universal Operating System

Hospitality As A Methodology of Customer Service

Organizational pressure can take many forms, big or small. However, through a hospitality methodology of customer service, teams can be guided from insecurity, stress, to trust, safety into a better way of completing their work.

Now, because organizational momentum is such a powerful force, it can only be overcome by finding a foothold—a minimal space where we can reduce risk, help solve the most painful problems, and prove ourselves..

We often find that giving folks a taste of our customer service, showing samples of how we can help, removes their hesitations. Here’s how we address some of the big concerns teams have, to help culinary organizations.

The Risk of the Unknown

Even when the current situation is painful, taking a leap of faith into a new situation can be terrifying. Something familiar can sometimes be less scary than something new. We encounter this often with organizations that have used a collection of physical binders, legacy software, and spreadsheets to run their culinary operations for years—decades, even. Switching to a platform like Galley can feel like a loss of control, and uncertainty (even if it’s the exact opposite).

We address this anxiety by making Galley as known as possible before anyone signs on a dotted line. 

  • Food Data Mapping — Documenting and identifying where all the food data (recipes, menus, costs, inventory, receiving, nutritionals, etc) lives, and the different tools that keep it, to figure out what’s working, what’s not working, and where the biggest areas for operational efficiency improvement are. This is a great way to help organizations see just how much they’re struggling to do everything they need to in order to run and grow effectively.

  • Galley Validation  — Inputting a potential customer’s sample data into Galley so that different stakeholders can see what life will be like, and how their operation could benefit. 

  • Ultra-Precise Onboarding — Detailed partnership plans that map out the onboarding process step-by-step, down to the date and who owns which steps. This proves there’s a clear path to safety and a future where smarter, less stressful growth is possible.

If you want to try this process out for yourself and analyze your food data, let’s connect.

“It Seems Nice, But More Complex Than We Need”

I spoke to a food company that was looking for ways to simplify their operation around creating production sheets, building menus, costing them, and procuring ingredients. When we gave them a detailed demo, they told us they were impressed, but that Galley was “more complex than we need”. They thought, because of the depths of Galley’s capabilities, it would add complexity, not take it away. They decided to continue using their spreadsheets and legacy software instead.

The next year, the same stakeholders came back with an update. Their business had grown considerably—it had been a very strong year. We asked them if using their spreadsheets was still less complex than using Galley, and the answer was a big “No”. 

Legacy technology, and spreadsheets may have been simpler in the beginning, but it wasn’t scalable, and there was no clear way to make the spreadsheet system work better. The company had looked at their current situation and didn’t see a need for Galley, but they didn’t look forward and predict what would happen if the business grew. The spreadsheets couldn’t rise to meet the challenge as the company rose to expand their business. They needed Galley (and would have saved a lot of headache if they’d had it sooner).

If your food mission involves operational scale, the sooner you adopt a culinary operating system, the better you can solve problems before you really need it.

Also Read: We’re Living In The Stone Age of Food Software (And It’s Killing Us Slowly)

There’s a Microscope on Every Financial Decision

We’re in the middle of a (hopefully short) era where investments in systems, or improvements/innovations are under more scrutiny than before. Deep pockets just don’t exist as they once may have, and every spending decision must be defensible.

This isn’t just difficult for organizations, but individuals who have to make calls on where to spend money. We’ve all heard stories of people losing their job after making a poor decision on investment-heavy software or equipment. It’s one thing to spend company money inefficiently—it’s another to put your family’s livelihood at risk.

We’ll typically build a well documented Partnership Plan, which will make a strong financial case, to help quantify the value that Galley can add to your organization. 

Think about it this way, the more people that touch, access, read, scale, use, reference, monitor and need food data at your organization, the more value Galley can bring. We’ll often see Galley food data used by culinary, operations, finance, training, marketing teams, receivers, inventory specialists, as well as by food brands customers (through online menus, digital displays, etc.).

Also Read: Fast ROI: 5 Galley One-Click Value Adds and Use Cases

“We Think It’s Just Too Expensive For Us Right Now”

I was approached by one department inside an agile, publicly traded food manufacturing brand a couple of years ago who said they liked Galley, but found it was too expensive for their business. They already had evaluated a very inexpensive point-solution that seemingly accomplished their needs. Something seemed off to me, and I raised the concern that they were not looking at this project holistically, but it was too late.

Fast forward a few years, and their team had brought on a visionary systems strategist, and the conversation flipped completely. That strategist knew and saw something that the department stakeholders did not: many departments and teams inside the publicly traded company hated their point solution, and caused other people and other teams tons of headaches:

  • The solution created a silo for the food data they were responsible for
  • It took hundreds of collective team hours each week to manually transfer data over into their ERP software
  • They still needed a handful of other point solutions to add more data (metadata like supplier, nutritional, allergen data), creating an increasingly more complex data gap challenge

The team that first looked at Galley, did not see the value, because they were just thinking for themselves. But when the corporate systems strategist took a holistic, full view of the business, and their processes, the value was immediately clear. They signed up shortly after.

Also Read: How Collaboration and Communication Is The Future of Food

Work Smarter Not Harder

Galley is made up of food industry folks who’ve spent time in the trenches. We know how hard it is to run balanced, efficient, and profitable culinary businesses and organizations, and we want to help culinary and food teams have higher quality of life, stronger more profitable businesses, that feed more people. 

That’s our goal, help you work smarter, not harder.

Want to see how Galley can do that? Let’s schedule a demo and time to chat.

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