CEO Insights: Doubling Down On Relationship Building


Doubling Down on Relationship Building

These days, there’s plenty to talk about, and the laundry list the industry continues to deal with grows longer still. Manufacturers and suppliers alike are starting each day with some very big, looming questions of automation, supply chain, and staffing as they also navigate ongoing COVID precautions and the long-term implications and questions about vaccine mandates and testing.

With the idea of a return to “normal” abandoned far in the rearview mirror, there’s a fair amount of reassessment happening. Namely, how the pandemic continues to create a chain reaction of changes in how we choose to live and work. There’s a good chance you’re seeing this in your own life and within the industry, similar changes continue to affect our workforces.


Changing Priorities

Workers who spent the prime months of the pandemic on the frontline are also reassessing their priorities and the way they look at money. While a substantial portion of the industry’s female workforce remains sidelined, unable to return to work because of school that remains virtual or lack of childcare, others are seeking out a more accommodating, flexible schedule. Conversely, there are also employees who are volunteering to take as many hours as they can get.

Such changes were likely not in the forecasts of many businesses and with every day in flux, many in the industry are choosing to focus on continuous improvement – making the best of what they have at the moment and reducing complexity wherever possible.


Building Relationships

This is manifesting in a doubling down on relationships with bakers working even more closely with their equipment and ingredient suppliers to manage the stress of the unknown. Just as we heard in the QSR panel at BEMA’s Annual Convention this past June, patience, and teamwork are responsible for many successes during the pandemic. This may be even more relevant as supply chain issues continue to stall and strangle, creating an added responsibility for players in the industry to be clear about where things stand.

Knowing that most are managing day-to-day, each interaction holds the possibility to reinforce a stronger level of transparency and trust. Having gained lots of practice over the last 18 months, both parties greatly understand the importance of breaking down what’s driving up cost or delay. This includes sharing the why behind limited-time price quotes, commodities that have doubled or tripled in price, and parts that are out of stock for weeks, even months. It’s the ability to have and keep having these difficult conversations that allow us to understand and accept what the ramifications are as well as being a starting point for new synergies and collaborations.


BEMA Difference

This is where BEMA really shines. By bringing together our members, we have the opportunity for discussions that can’t be scripted or delivered from the dais of a stage. It’s the synchronicity of bringing together individuals, yes even competitors, to have honest conversations and ask the uncomfortable questions to solve the problems so many of us face.

These conversations not only make our industry better, but they also make our individual businesses and products better. These are the exchanges that provide a foundation for relationships that allow us to chart a path of continuous improvement – one that not only considers the individual and the proprietor but the overall strength of the industry today and in the future.

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