NRA Show Recap | The Future of Food Service

May 22, 2015 8:47:21 AM by Bess Couture

A Recap of NRA - The Future of Food Service by Jim Sullivan
We sat in on a bunch of educational seminars at the NRA show with the goal of gathering useful information for you.  Most intriguing was the Future of Food Service presented by Jim Sullivan, CEO of, a resource for the industry providing tips and insight into training and optimizing staff.  This session covered the basic predictions of the food service industry and we’re going to review them for you in this week’s NRA recap blog.

So what does the future of food service look like?

In the next 1-5 years you can expect:

  • Higher Wages
  • Shallower Labor Pool
  • Digital Servers
  • Mandatory Customization
  • The Decline of Tipping
  • Evolution of Onboarding stages
  • The End of Cash Registers
  • The End of the Casual Customer
  • Competition is No Longer Linear in Segments
  • Color/Texture/Atmosphere/Plating Importance Rises


Why is this the prediction for the future of food service?

Future of Food Service - Jim Sullivan presents to the 2015 NRA Show

In one word, TECHNOLOGY.  Technology has seismically shifted the way in which we live.  Think back to five or ten years ago and could you have even imagined paying for your coffee with your cellphone?  Probably not, but now this is the norm for coffee, fast casual and even some QSRS and soon to be in restaurants, cinemas and c-stores.

Technology also has changed the way we share things.  We are officially in a sharing economy and that is only going to grow with time.  That means you can no longer be worried only about the experience of a food critic. You need to be concerned with each and every customer because with the advent of sites like Yelp and the increase in food photo sharing you can be sure you are being judged by every customer each and every visit.  Which also means that food stylists are going to become a more important part and integral of every food service industry.


What can you do for a successful future within food service?

Jim Sullivan suggests that the most important factor for food service success is habitual consistency.  And maybe even more important to note is habitual inconsistency is the main way to lose returning customers.  Consistency is your most effective marketing strategy in gaining and retaining customers.  Persistence will get you there and consistence will keep you there.

When you think of your future, you need to be able to make every detail perfect and the best way to do that is to limit the amount of details you’ll have to perfect.  Pick one thing you want to be known for and own it.


Were you at NRA?

If you made it to the NRA show in Chicago, we’d love to hear your feedback.  Even better, if you made it to the session on the future of food service we want to know what you thought of Sullivan’s insights and how you’re planning to embrace the future.  Until next year, Chicago!

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