September CEO Note

Salutations CF Fam,

Summer is officially in the rear view, the kids are back in school and we are happy to be back on everyone’s doorsteps! It is standard practice in food service for seasonal layoffs and summer is a scary season for most. In eight years of doing business, we have yet to have a single round of layoffs thanks in large part to your unwavering loyalty to our brand. Seeing so many talented people walk in and out of our building this summer in search of a means to feed their families has really made me think of how far this company has come and how differently we view our team than in years past.

Catered Fit Customer Service Team

In our startup days of 2010-2014 we ran a very “lean” ship. We had a hundred tasks to complete each day and only a few handfuls of people to do them. Before we could afford to pay our team what they were really worth or be able to hire someone to fill one particular position, a select few of us wore many hats. As many of you can personally recall, it was not too many years ago that I was still answering phones or delivering meals when a driver didn’t show. Our culture, before I even knew what that meant, was get the job done or get the hell out of the way so someone else can do it for you. Our company ran like so many others in our industry do. We offered virtually zero training, coaching, mentoring, continued education or margin for error. “Chew em up and spit em out” seemed like the way a profitable food service company had to run. I couldn’t have been anymore wrong!

In late 2016 I was approaching burn out fast. While our kitchens were fully staffed and we had customer service to answer the phones, we lacked real leadership and a strong culture. Prior to our California expansion in January of 2017 I had decided it was time to go “all in” and invest everything we had into the areas I had begun to realize were lacking. From IT to Human Resources, we went on a hiring spree.  Last year we began to offer health insurance, PTO and paid sick days, and made our company’s minimum wage nearly 50% higher than what the state mandated. While a full benefits package and competitive pay was great for attracting talent it was not the panacea. There was still something missing…

If we are paying everyone well and offering all of these perks we should expect to have minimal turnover, right? Not so fast! What we were missing was culture and you can’t buy a strong culture. After a number of exit interviews the picture began to come in clearer. While pay and benefits are great, they will NOT make someone loyal. Positive reinforcement, supportive leadership, the ability to make mistakes and grow from them, promotions from within, empowerment and opportunities for continued education are what separates the company you once worked for from the career you love.

In 2018, we got culture, baby! There are no raised voices, no finger pointing, daily positive reinforcement is MANDATORY from all management and we do not write people up only to justify soon thereafter writing them off. People need to hear that their manager appreciates their work.  People want to be coached and mentored not written up and scolded for one thing they could have done better while discounting all that they had done right. People need to feel empowered. People need to feel like their voices are heard and their opinions are valued. We do this through our “all hands” team meetings, opinion polls, management surveys and an open door policy in which we invite everyone from the dishwasher to the logistics managers to tell us what we are doing right and what they think we could be doing better. So, what happens when you offer competitive pay, benefits, a culture of positivity, inclusions and togetherness? Turnover disappears faster than our ozone layer! Nothing gives me a greater sense of accomplishment than seeing all the same faces (and a few new ones) month in and month out. I love hearing my team tell me how much they love working here and how different our company is than everywhere else they worked before. Perhaps the best part of it all is that when we focus on our team FIRST everyone wins. A happy and empowered team makes tastier food. Tasty food makes for happy members. Happy members lead to happy shareholders. This is the way Capitalism was meant to be!

Until next month familia ✌️

Health is Wealth,

Adam Friden/Chief Executive Officer  

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