Food Production Forecasting

Forecasting is an art and science of estimating events in the future and provides the database for decision making and planning. The art of forecasting is the intuition of the forecaster, and the science is the use of past data in a tested model. Both are required to estimate future needs. Forecasting is described as a function of production and constitutes the basis for procurement. Computerized systems often are used to facilitate the forecasting process.

Production Demand

Forecasting not only is a function of production but also is needed for procurement. Food products must be available for producing menu items for customers. The primary result of forecasting should be customer satisfaction; customers expect to receive what they ordered. In addition, the foodservice manager is concerned with food cost; both overproduction and underproduction affect the bottom line.

Overproduction, the production of more food than is needed for service, generates extra costs because the salvage of excess food items is not always feasible. Leftover prepared food spoils easily and requires extreme care in handling and storage. Even though some leftover foods might be salvageable by refrigeration, certain foods may break down and lose quality. An example is re-using chopped tomatoes or chopped lettuce from an earlier production shift. Policies and procedures for the storage of overproduced food items should be well defined and rigorously enforced.

Attempts to reduce overproduction costs by using a leftover high-priced food as an ingredient in a low-cost menu item reduce profits. For example, using leftover rib roast in beef stew, soup stock, or beef hash, all of which could be prepared with less expensive fresh meat, is difficult t justify. In addition to the higher food cost, planning and carrying out these salvage efforts incurs higher labor costs that could have been avoided had overproduction not occurred. Customers often suspect that leftovers are being used, which can be damaging to the image of a foodservice operation.

Underproduction, the production of less food than is needed for service, can increase costs as much as overproduction. Customers will be disappointed if the menu item is unavailable, and they often have difficulty in making another selection. Furthermore, underproduction may involve both additional labor costs and often the substitution of a higher-priced item.

A wise manager will insist that a similar backup item be available when underproduction occurs. For example, in a university residence hall foodservice, if the grilled meat patties run out, an excellent replacement would be frozen minute steaks, quickly grilled. Such a substitution certainly would increase customer satisfaction even though it hurts the bottom line.

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What Does “Team Growth” Mean to You?

A team, especially one that is in a foodservice operation, has four distinct stages of group development. The four stages of group development were created by Dr. Bruce W. Tuckerman after observation of the different phases in the development and maturity of groups of people.

Forming

The first stage is forming. This is where teams are getting to know each other, as well as learning what will be required of them in order to achieve their assigned goal. This stage is defined by the way the team members approach each other and inspect the limitations of group behavior. The group is also evaluating the manager’s role and leadership. Throughout this stage, the manager takes a larger role in directing the progress of the team. Directing involves telling the group what specifically needs to be accomplished, establishing guidelines, and providing specifics on the five Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why) and How. At this point, the team members are focusing on being part of a team.

Team Feeling:

          Excitement; Optimism; Pride in being selected; Wondering what role and influence they will have; Anxiety; Questioning why they and other team members were selected

Team Behavior:

          Friendly; Agreeable; Deciding how to accomplish tasks; Determining acceptable team behavior; Information gathering; Handling complaints about the organization; Discussing barriers to the task

Leadership Style:

          Directing

Storming

The second stage is storming. At this point, the reality of the project sets in for the team and various interpersonal struggles begin to surface. Typically, this is the most difficult stage for any team to get through, since power clashes and competition between team members are common and are easily seen here. Besides this realization, team members become impatient with their lack of progress and rely more on individual approaches instead of teamwork. At this time, the manager needs to utilize a coaching style to clarify and explain tasks repeatedly. The manager will need to persuade team members often to work together and refocus their efforts.

            Team Feeling:

          Resistance to approaches different from what the team is comfortable with; Swings in attitudes about the team and project; Questioning many aspects of the task

Team Behavior:

          Arguing; Choosing sides; Perceived “pecking order”; Increased tension; Jealousy; Power struggles; Lack of progress; Loss of interest

Leadership Style:

           Coaching

Norming

The third stage, norming, sees team member settling their differences and developing more cohesive and trusting relationships. The team realizes that they can work together and help each other achieve success. The members understand the team’s needs and accept the team ground rules and the roles that each person plays in achieving the project goals. Conflict decreases as these realizations occur and team members develop more confidence in their ability to work together and accomplish the task. At this time, the manager transitions into a leadership style of supporting the team by providing encouragement, listening more than telling, and promoting team discussions.

            Team Feeling:

          Expressing constructive criticism; Membership acceptance; Relief that things are finally going smoothly; Understanding own contribution; Acceptance of membership

Team Behavior:

          Attempts for harmony; Avoiding conflict; Discussing team dynamics; Sense of common purpose; Establishing and monitoring team rules; Expressing ideas

Leadership Style:

          Supporting

 

Performing

At last but not least, the fourth and final stage is performing. This is where team interdependence is recognized. Team members can analyze and solve problems successfully together. They have accepted each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can adapt to meet the needs of each member. The team becomes very productive and truly adds value to the organizations. At this point, the manager can use a delegating style. The manager no longer needs to provide much direction and can periodically monitor the team’s progress with update meetings.

            Team Feeling:

          Insights into group processes; Understanding of each member’s strengths and weaknesses; Satisfaction with progress; Trusting; Friendly; Having fun

Team Behavior:

          Individual behavior modification; Working through team problems; Close attachment to members; Flexibility; Humor; Ownership of results

Leadership Style:

          Delegating

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