I was wondering this morning what our multi-unit restaurant industry might look like without the commitment from our industry journalists and media? What would happen to the rest of of us if the editors and journalists out there decided not to cover our mutual industry interests?
I found this video from 2009, and it made me think about how far Valerie Killifer has come in her career. She is amazing! Here is a video, where she is articulating her experience to the Food Channel back in 2009 as it relates to the closing of the FastCasual Executive Summit.
I love how pure this video is and how the news anchor doesn’t even know her name at the beginning of the video. It really made me chuckle. I guarantee you, that turn the clock to the 2012 edition of this Video, and not only is she known by many, but she is loved by even more. Why? Because she is just a fantastic human being and she adds value each and every day to our community.
We spend a lot of time looking at our operations, our brands, our business models. As operators, we spend a ton of money on our PR, on trying to sell franchises, trying to figure out a way to stand out among the crowded spaces of our multi-unit restaurant industry. We spend a lot of effort trying to get our industry journalists to cover OUR stories, OUR brands, OUR celebrations! But what about our journalists themselves? Our editors? The people that work so hard every day to deliver relevant and important information to our operators so we can stay up to date. In an open, honest and accurate way.
Even people like Darren Tristano who so tirelessly cover our industry trends and works so hard to actually collect the data we need for measurement.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our journalists. Without you, where would our industry gather? How would we keep up with trends and information. To this end, I want to really take time to point out a fantastic, smart, kind and generous leader in our journalistic community….. well many of you know her well; Valerie Killifer.
You see, not only does Valerie deserve to be celebrated, we should have a tribute to her tireless effort in the fast-casual space. Valerie is always asking questions. The right questions. Questions that matter. Questions that force us to seek answers.
Recently Valeri and I spoke about how the industry will redefine itself in the years to come. For example, as in any market, if the “fast-casual” space is the fastest growing segment, it is only a matter of time until the lines of definition will become blurred again. Of course, we are already starting to see this shift where casual dining chains are heading towards fast casual. QSR will head there as well. No doubt. Where there is market, there is money to be made. And, you cannot beat the market. That’s what makes our democracies so great. We compete, and we compete hard.
Of course, because Valerie is so smart, she remains open minded and does not mind admitting that the answers need to be researched and thought about. After all, from an operators perspective, aren’t we all just multi-unit restaurant operators (assuming more than one store), no matter what the segment? The segmentation and definitions are just there for us to help define markets so that we can compete in our niches. But, those definitions won’t last forever now, will they?
I don’t know about you, but I feel as if we are all in this together. For me, at the end of the day, it just comes down to relationships. It’s about the people we connect with. Not just our customers, but our restaurant leaders and front line workers… our vendors and our media. We are all in this together! To make a living, to serve our customers, to follow our passions. To nurture great leadership!
I believe that people like Valerie keep us glued together. If not for their vision of the segments that they compete in between the media, we would have nowhere to hang our hats. People like Valerie are one in a million.
She’s always smiling, always says please and thank you and is always generous. I hear from so many people what a great, kind and generous person she is. And it doesn’t matter what she has going on. She is mindful and is a fantastic leader in our industry.
And so, I decided that someone needs to write about our journalists. So, here I am, using my internet real estate to make sure that I say thank you to Valerie (and all our journalists) for working so hard to keep us honest and accountable. It is very important for us as a community to recognize the value and leadership that people like Valerie bring to our experience.
Valerie, Thank you for all that you do! Please join me in letting Valerie know how much you appreciate her work.