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H A P P Y   N E W    Y E A R

Holidays can be a mixed blessing. Even during the best of economic times, "The Holidays" pose daunting pressures to see all of our friends and family, attend all the parties, buy all the gifts and send all the cards.

A wise man once said, "The unexplored life is not worth living." On New Year's Day will it be "business as usual" or do you plan to "explore" how to be different and better for you and your company?

Perhaps the events of this year have shaken your beliefs and assumptions about the future. What can you proactively do to make your world a better place?

Planning is always a great first step. Have a budget, goals and a means to measure them.

Year's end is a great time to ask what didn't go well that YOU could change.

New services aimed at improving customers' interactions are a strategy to explore for 2013. While your competition focuses on price, render them obsolete with value-added services that keep customers coming back for more. What do your customers really value? Make a specific list for your top 10 customers. If you have been listening, the answer should be clear.

Explore every transaction system for opportunities to improve. Nothing frustrates customers more than internal systems that ask them to change their routines. Many computer systems steer customers in a single way to increase the vendor's internal efficiency.

When we begin a New Year, we are looking at how to lead off for a great start. Leadership involves doing the right things for the good of the customer and the long-term benefit of the company. It sometimes means standing up for ideas and situations that are unpopular. True leadership comes from speaking up and being willing to take the risk of your convictions.

You have an obligation to yourself and your company to make the best use of the assets you are given. This return on assets is what builds long-term value for a company. Assets include plant and equipment but also computer time, marketing supplies and most importantly, your time.

Each of us wants to succeed. Working wisely and advocating for key customers will create corporate prosperity and personal satisfaction. Please remember to value your family time and friends too.

A life of hard work is highly rewarding. A life spent toiling away at a meaningless goal or an insatiable time clock, is a terrible waste. Let each day count.

Rejoice that we live in a country where we are free to earn a living however we choose. We have selected a wonderful industry that feeds people and satisfies most of us who have made this our life's work. This holiday season is a great time to recognize the importance of our work, our family and friends and our place in that process.

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Ed Zimmerman
Ed Zimmerman is a pizza industry veteran and President of The Food Connector. His almost four decades of foodservice experience includes food manufacturing and distribution leadership, food industry technology, marketing services and restaurant and grocery operations management.
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