Charlotte Mosquiera has overseen a long list of re-built and renovated healthcare kitchens and serveries. Here are some of her tips on how to ensure that such projects move along as planned and meet the expectations that both a director and an institution has for them once they’re completed:
Be an advocate for your department. “I have heard many people say, ‘I am not going to ask [for funding] because I will not get it.’ But my experience is that if you keep asking and if you keep supporting your requests with appropriate information, you eventually will get approval for your projects. Ninety-five percent of my job is to be an advocate for the interests of the foodservice department.”
Make your staff part of the project team. Once the Baptist Health project was underway, weekly renovation meetings kept staff up to date on how the project was proceeding and allowed for group problem solving as required. Each manager was included in design and renovation activities for their specific areas.
Use a show-and-tell approach. “One approach we have found to be very helpful is to make sure your senior executives see first hand what your problems are and how you are solving them.We arranged for tours to show them where the infrastructure was damaged, how new money was being spent, how functional the new equipment was and how it supported goals like food safety. Our goal was to keep them knowledgeable not only about what had been done, but about what still needed to be done.”
Take ownership of the project. “I get very aggravated when I hear peers say, ‘Our kitchen didn’t turn out the way I expected.’ It is your responsibility to manage the project and it is your responsibility how it turns out. The consultant works for you and you have to approach that relationship on a collaborative basis, with the two of you working out your differences on issues where you do not agree at first.”
Don’t compromise on quality. “Specifying equipment on the basis of minimizing first costs is not a good way to go when you will be responsible for the long term operation of the facility. You must also consider operating costs over time. In the end, it is usually preferable to postpone an equipment purchase if it means you will be able to spec a higher-quality component with greater reliability and durability. Don’t compromise— hold out for equipment that really addresses the needs you have identified. The payoff is a production area that will really work the way you want it to.”
Investigate equipment needs personally. “One thing we did differently here was that I took responsibility for managing the purchase of our equipment. In some cases we purchased directly from the manufacturer; in others,we worked through a dealer.We researched many major equipment needs by talking directly to manufacturers at equipment shows, and changed a number of equipment specs significantly as a result.”
Think in terms of multi-functionality. “When you have to increase your production while living in the same footprint, you have to be creative with your use of space. In this renovation we wanted every piece of equipment we purchased to be multi-functional in some way. That not only saves space but forces you to re-evaluate your production systems in terms of linking their flexibility to the capabilities of your equipment purchases.”