What’s That Smell?
One of our customers was recently asked, “what is the biggest challenge you face daily in your job?”
The customer, without skipping a beat, responded confidently “food safety”
Now, I’m going to pause for a moment and tell you a little bit about the two people in the conversation. On one side of the table is one of our facility solutions professionals who looks for opportunities to help customers create more efficient facilities.
On the other side of the table sits the customer, a facilities manager for a large fast-food chain.
When our professional asked this “biggest challenge” question of the customer, he was expecting an answer related to what they had been working on together for years– the operations of the buildings, not food safety.
The conversation quickly died because as much as our guy knew about lighting, electrical, and building controls, he knew nothing about food safety–except that it was indeed important because no one likes a bout of food poisoning.
It happens all the time in sales conversations every day across every industry, a customer poses a problem to a company that the company isn’t necessarily familiar with. However, unlike years past where companies tended to only focus on problems they had an intimate understanding of, technology has made it possible for a wider variety of business to offer solutions to some of a customer’s biggest challenges in some of the most unlikely ways!
The Dumpster Effect
This last year, FSG presented at the Texas Food and Fuel Conference in San Antonio Texas. The convention was attended by convenience store owners, managers, and industry partners that support that industry.
As people walked by our booth, I would ask one simple question “What is the biggest challenge in your business?”
I expected the answer to be fuel pricing, or inventory management, or even facility management (which was what we were their promoting). However, most if not all the folks that took the time to give me a good answer said it was throwing food away in the dumpster
The reasons for throwing the food away varied, but the most common reason tended to be that freezers, coolers, and temperature-controlled cases (cold or hot) were operating outside of specification and not keeping the food at the right temperature.
What was interesting was the reason for these appliances going out of temperature seemed to vary from as simple as the customer leaving the door open, to more complex issues like an animal getting in the attic and chewing through refrigeration lines.
Everyone I talked to agreed that the dumpster effect was a big pain point – and an expensive one at that! Putting food in the dumpster was no different than throwing stacks of dollars bills in there, and if there was a solution to that problem, there was value in buying that solution!
From Dumpsters to Dollars!
In both cases outlined above, the problem identified by the customer had nothing to do, traditionally, with lighting, electrical, signage, or technology–on the surface. However, if we dig a bit deeper we realize that technology combined with electrical makes it possible to minimize the costly visits to the dumpster, thus increasing the opportunity for the products that would have otherwise been trashed in a failure or when a door was left open, into profit!
You see, for both cases, the fast food chain, and the convenience store owner, there is a solution that offers peace of mind and confidence they need to say–their food is safe and ready to sell! And that solution isn’t even visible!
The solution? Data!
A Spoon-full of Data Goes a long way!
Ok, so data is pretty vague– let’s be a little bit clearer. The solution to both customer’s problems are sensors that can tell the customer when an appliance is not working the way it is supposed to and then report that anomaly to the appropriate person the moment it happens, so it can be fixed.
Think about it for a moment- if a freezer goes down in the middle of the night while no one is in the store, there is a very real chance the contents of that freezer will go out of temperature before the first person arrives the next morning. However, if that same freezer goes down and can text the owner that is broken, the owner can call a repairman immediately, or go to the store right then and move the food to another freezer before the product become unsellable!
A similar scenario could be painted for the fast-food chain- if a griddle isn’t getting to the right temperature, then it is possible that the burger patties aren’t getting cooked completely. If that griddle could text the facilities manager for that region, he can notify the local manager to check the temperature of food being cooked on that griddle before serving the food so the griddle can still be used, while also dispatching a repair crew to fix the problem so it doesn’t become a news story!
In both cases, sensors are collecting data on the appliances. That data is then sent to a database that compares it to a previously determined set of parameters. If an anomaly is found, that data is then communicated to the right person or people and suddenly that data becomes information! That information then becomes a solution, and that solution then becomes savings!
When you break it down like that–you can start to see how a little bit of data can go a long way and save a bunch of money!
Is It Worth It?
That’s a question each customer must ask themselves and come to their own conclusion on. However, in calculating the value of adding sensors and controls to a food store or restaurant, the cost of going to the dumpster must be a factor. For some customers, spoiled food may only result in several thousand dollars in lost revenue.
While for others, spoiled food might result in a lawsuit that costs millions!
Each business has to weigh the risks and benefits individually, but it is fair to say that most will end up seeing the value of implementing smart building technology in their appliances and food services areas.
Add to that the fact that these technologies can also integrate with other building controls that may or may not already be in the facility–like lighting controls or HVAC controls–and you can quickly see how the return on investment can start to add up!
No really, bring it! Bring your biggest challenge in your job and let’s see if FSG can help you find a solution! It might be possible that the solution isn’t completely obvious in the first conversation but give us a chance! If there’s a challenge that a little bit of technology and a little bit of electricity can solve, there is a very good chance we can overcome it and help you find the peace of mind in your job that you’re looking for!
For more than 35 years, FSG has been doing more for customers when it comes to lighting, electrical, building control, signage, and technology. Click Here to learn more about what FSG Energy can do for you!