FM's IDEAS Conference is a one-of-a-kind event that will help readers execute retail strategies in more sophisticated ways.
With all of the talk about the essentials of "going retail" in noncommercial foodservice environments over the past several years, one discussion that has been noticeably lacking is the matter of definition. From FM's vantage point, there is a broad geography to this topic.
In the eyes of some, "going retail" is a matter of upgrading food menus and presentations to compare favorably with whatever " commercial" restaurant operations are offering as an alternative to onsite customers—in short, it's a strategy to "compete with the street."
To others, a retail focus is one that emphasizes packaged, convenience and grab-and-go foods—a product mix geared to driving " impulse" food transactions, much as they would be selected in a convenience store, mall food court or similar environments. Retail activities of this type offer an alternative to cafè foodservice with "grab it and nuke it" options. In this respect, retail strategy can help operators provide an alternative to traditional cafè service in outlying campus or work locations, during late night shifts, or in places where traditional kitchen and serving space simply isn't available.
When it comes to building a great concept,
there's theory and there's practice. The FM Ideas Conference will explore both.
In yet another context, "going retail" has much more to do with offering onsite customers cash-option foodservices outside of those that may be part of a traditional college board plan or discountedemployee cafeteria menu. In these, operators are looking to drive margin with higher priced menu offerings when financial or operating constraints put real limitations on what can be offered in the basic program, or when cash revenue is essential to cross-subsidize other operations.
Taken together, though, retail strategies of all sorts have become a highly effective and very important part of the way many of FM's readers approach their onsite markets. And that makes them a natural topic for FM's first annual IDEAS Conference, scheduled for May 18-20 in Chicago, just before this year's National Restaurant Association show.
The IDEAS Conference is designed around the idea that FM's readers already know what they are trying to accomplish with their retail strategies, but are eager to hear new ideas that will help them execute it more effectively and in more sophisticated ways. So we've assembled a group of speakers who will speak to the theory of retail business concepts and who will also explore the realities of putting them into practice, with segment-specific case studies.
At our Thursday night banquet, we'll honor those FM readers we've selected as winners in our annual "Best Onsite Concepts" awards program. (It will be hard not to get several good ideas just from that one opportunity!).
We also know that, in the end, our readers need to execute these strategies via staff managers and line workers, so we will conclude the conference with an in-depth "train the trainer" workshop. That will focus on hands-on exercises on how to more effectively display food, design merchandising presentations and coach serving staff to interact more confidently with their customers when describing and recommending items from the menu.
You can read a complete description of the seminars and sessions we have planned by going to our website at:
It goes without saying that we also plan to give attendees plenty of networking time with their peers, opportunities for interaction with sponsoring suppliers and a chance to get to know the staff of Food Management on a more personal basis.
We hope you will plan on joining us for this one-of-a-kind event. Attendance is largely limited to noncommercial operators and registration is limited. To sign up, call 1-800-839-7263, or e-mail us at: email@example.com.
See you in May!