CFSP - "Why I would recommend it to you"
Why I took the course
I took the CFSP accreditation in 2010, it was only the second round of the course since it’s introduction to the UK and so it was very early days. I have specialised in recruitment dedicated to the commercial catering equipment sector since 2006 and my reasons for taking the course were twofold: firstly I felt that if CFSP was going to become an industry standard -which would play a part in recruitment decisions- I felt that I should understand what it meant to be CFSP accredited. Also, I was delighted to see the industry take active steps to raise professional standards and best practice. When I first started recruiting in the sector I became aware that there were a number of people getting roles because of their contacts, and not necessarily because of their skills. This was echoed by clients who expressed frustration that some incoming sales staff would simply ‘go through the motions’ and were not truly engaging with their customers, they also talked of a ‘jobs carousel’ -where people would go from one business to the next without bringing anything new to the table.
What was it like?
It was a little daunting when the 30-chapter study guide arrived, the timing wasn’t ideal as I was about to go away on honeymoon for three weeks. Following a poorly judged decision to take it travelling with me (as well as an overweight luggage fine) it goes without saying that it didn’t get opened once the whole time which left me two weeks of intensive cramming time before the seminar and exam! It was definitely useful to have worked through the guide beforehand so that the subjects we covered were familiar. The seminar successfully covered each of the chapters in excellent detail and lent context to the information that I had studied in the study guide, we were also given a steer about what to revise ahead of the exam. My background prior to recruitment was Hospitality and Catering and so, whilst I have a good understanding of the Foodservice industry, I don’t actually sell catering equipment and so I felt I needed to swot for the exam. The exam is a good test of memory and makes sure that you have retained the information from the seminar. I am glad to say that I passed first time and would definitely advise putting the effort in to revision because the subjects that are covered are so broad that it would be difficult to be an expert in all of them, even if you currently work directly in the Catering Equipment sector.
Why I recommend it
The main thing that stood out to me about CFSP is that it provides a truly lateral view of the wider Foodservice Industry -the ‘raison d’être’ of the businesses that are supplying it.
After a period of time in a role it can be very easy to become blinkered -we build up a valuable base of skills and experience in our given field and can deliver excellent advice to our customers about that specific area of expertise but that can also mean that we become more distanced from the ‘bigger picture’. What CFSP delivers is an insight in to every aspect of the Hospitality and Catering industry, from the point of view of those that supply products and services to it.
We are always taught in sales to listen first, talk second, and by studying CFSP and truly appreciating every aspect of the industry (rather than just one, small section), sales staff are given a better appreciation of the challenges and trends that are directly affecting their customers. They can display greater knowledge, understanding and empathy, which in turn will allow them to be more consultative and ultimately more successful. The same applies to Management staff who can reinforce the message through their teams and engage more directly with customers.
Whichever area of the industry you work in I would recommend CFSP for you and your team, it has become a recognised industry-specific accreditation and gives those who have a passed it a broader insight and a sense of achievement.
Alex Waring C.F.S.P.
Foxton Budd Recruitment