Today's Labor Pool Offers a Diamond in the Rough

July 22, 2014

The pace of change has accelerated in our industry. And while much has changed fairly quickly, automatic merchandising remains one of the few entrepreneurial industries, and it continues to reward creative thinking.

The current economic situation has brought more challenges than ever faced at any one time: account downsizing, falling consumer confidence, rising product costs, food safety scares, and increasing health care costs.

With all the pressures bearing down, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that some positive things are happening as well.

Business owners need to focus on the positive as much as possible. Company morale has a big impact on performance, and it begins at the top.


What a difference a few short years make.
Two years ago, we reported that a nationwide survey of business owners found “retention of key workers” was the number one challenge they faced. This was the business community’s dominant concern for many years, and it is always a big concern to business owners. But today, it’s not what’s keeping owners and managers awake at night.

National unemployment hit 7.6 percent in January, a level unseen since 1992. Rising unemployment has contributed to account downsizing and lower vending sales. But it is important for operators to keep in mind that when unemployment rises, so does the operator’s labor pool.

The current labor environment gives operators one of the best opportunities to position themselves for growth that has ever existed.


The foodservice industry has been hit especially hard by the current recession. It has suffered a record fallout in number of establishments and employment.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that foodservice establishments shed 66,500 jobs nationwide from June through November 2008. This was the biggest decline since 1990, when the government began tracking the numbers.

As a result, there are more qualified people looking for work than at any time since the early 1980s. Many of them have skills applicable to automatic merchandising.

Everyone knows that people, more than any other single factor, make the difference in the level of performance of automatic merchandising. Now’s the time to take inventory of your company’s human capital.

Is everyone on your team pulling their weight? Does everyone share your level of commitment to success? Now might be a good time to do those overdue performance reviews.

There are numerous resources available to operators who need help in this area, such as trade organizations
and consultants.


Commitment begins at the top. Have you as owner/manager assessed company goals and shared them with the people whose support you need? Have you set individual employee goals?

As owner/manager, it is your job to set goals and lead by example. It is everyone else’s job to follow.

When things get difficult, team commitment becomes more important. Is your team all that it can be?

Now is the time to find out.