As the world adopts automation and other modern technologies, how do you know if your food business is falling behind? Many of the problems that food business face aren’t just part of the way things work – they’re inefficiencies, missed opportunities, and anchors weighing your business down.
Most importantly, all of the things on this list are solvable – with the right technology. If you’re unsure where you should focus improvements, especially when it comes to investments like management software, consider the operations and profits of your food business in the last quarter and ask these six simple questions.
1) Slow Communication Between Departments and Within Departments
When departments can’t communicate effectively, productivity suffers, delays result, and you lose money. Does Shipping find problems when double-checking the information from Sales? Do your customers complain about repeatedly incorrect invoices? When mistakes occur, do departments point fingers at each other?
Clear, concise communication promotes trust, prevents errors, and saves time. The smallest of communication issues can translate into big business problems. When Sales incorrectly relays order information to Shipping, conflicts occur and time is wasted. Double-billed customers lose trust in your systems, and you risk losing their business. If you can’t pinpoint where things went wrong, then you definitely have communication problems.
Ask yourself: How can you measure, improve, and maintain effective communication to save time and keep up with competitors?
2) Scrambling to Get Things Together for Audits
Organized documentation is crucial during audits. If your next food safety audit is coming up in six weeks, do you spend those weeks preparing files instead of focusing on building your business? Do you rely too heavily on one or two key employees who know how everything works, but who could leave you in deep trouble if they quit or fall ill before the auditors arrive? If auditors ask for your HACCP plan or traceability records, can you and your staff pull them up immediately?
If you can’t survive an audit with confidence and as fast as possible, your business may need a change.
Ask yourself: How can you become audit-ready, all the time?
3) Spending Too Much Time Putting Out Fires
If you aren’t planning three steps ahead, then you’re falling behind. Forecasting, developing effective marketing strategies, trending, analytics, and developing new strategic partnerships should consume a higher percentage of management’s time than chasing down paper, reacting to emergencies, or resolving customer complaints.
If you don’t have time to plan because of the chaos that permeates your day, your priorities are reversed. When you’re too exhausted to give serious thought to the future of your business, it’s a sign you’re due for a change.
Ask yourself: How can I stop running from one emergency to the next and move towards proactive planning?
4) Spending Too Much Time on Manual Tasks
Managers are great at putting out fires – you chose them because they are go-getters – but if they spend most of their time doing paperwork, then the talents you chose them for are being wasted.
Management is hired – and highly paid – for their organizational and motivational skills. Managers should supervise, coach, mentor, and train to continuously improve and create a self-sufficient workforce. Wasting them on manual tasks is wasting money. If the last time you saw your floor manager, they were studying a clipboard and frowning instead of mentoring and inspiring, then you need a change.
Ask yourself: How can you free your management from unnecessary manual tasks and let them focus on managing?
5) Struggling to Bring New Employees Onboard
Managers are especially needed to mentor employees as the high turnover rate in the food processing industry makes maintaining a well-trained workforce difficult. According to Karl Deily, a leader in food production technologies since 1981, “Lack of available or properly trained labor often leads to production disruptions, scheduling challenges and puts food quality and safety at risk.“
Are you terrified of losing your QA manager because of potential audit problems or compromised product quality or safety? Does it take too long to adequately train new personnel? Are business processes continually reinvented every time staff turns over?
Maintaining standardized procedures and records in a central system is the best way to bring new people on board efficiently. When documentation is fragmented in isolated silos that are lost when staff members leave, training new employees proves an immense challenge.
Ask yourself: How can you streamline the onboarding process and avoid endlessly reinventing the wheel?
6) Mistakes Caused by Incorrect or Outdated Information
Initial on-boarding of employees is not the end of training; they must keep up with new standards. The list of food safety regulations grows longer every year, and advanced technological monitoring has led to higher expectations of food safety. It’s no surprise that 34% of U.S.-based and 44% of non-U.S. food businesses surveyed plan to invest in monitoring technologies to improve product safety in 2018. Keeping up with new regulations and ensuring compliance is a full-time job, and an important one too, when the cost of a recall can force a company to bankruptcy.
Do your employees still gather data like temperature by hand? Does your QA Manager work based on data that is already over 24 hours old? Did a recipe for a product change, but the labels didn’t? Is it easy to find out if a vendor has changed their processes so that new hazards could have been introduced? Did you learn about these things the hard way through an audit or recall?
With excellent automated technological systems available, there is no reason that your people should make small mistakes that have big consequences. If you’ve lost money due to incorrect or outdated information, you need a change.
Ask yourself: How can you make sure all your information is up-to-date and communicated effectively?
Is Your Food Business Due for a Change?
There is zero room for error in food production. If errors are becoming your food business’ norm, your business is due for a change. If your food business makes mistakes due to poor communication or struggles to assemble documentation for audits, your business is due for a change. If your managers are so busy putting out fires and completing manual tasks that your new employees are slow to get started and your existing employees aren’t growing, your business is definitely due for a change.
Now you know what’s dragging you down, what is your plan to get ahead?