Above and Beyond: How to Differentiate from your Competitors
Jim Jenkins
Jim Jenkins
CEO, Universities East, Sodexo North America

The business realm can be frustrating. Trends fluctuate, consumer demands vary, and competition is fierce. Proven success is cultivated based on how well a business plans strategically, analyzes trends, and, most importantly, differentiates from their competitors. In an industry driven solely by consumer satisfaction, where negotiations and deals are made on the daily, being unique to your competitions isn’t practical — it’s necessary.
Inc.com says that the key to differentiating your business from your competition starts with establishing core values and “doing them better than anyone else.” For example, in Universities, we’re committed to serving healthy and nutritious food to all our students; we back this promise by employing over 600 registered dietitians who work alongside our culinary teams to create healthy and balanced menus catering to those with food allergens and restricted diets. Core values such as these influence every aspect of our company, from determining whom we hire to forming the base of our company culture.

In addition to instilling core values, innovation is key. The ability to grow while consumer demand increases is the mark of a company’s strength. To better understand the concept of innovation it’s important to recognize its different forms. The first type is open innovation where “companies use internal and external ideas to help advance their operations.” The second type is disruptive innovation where new products eventually displace competitors. An example of disruptive innovation is the cell phone, which is now usually used in place of a landline or home phone. Next is reverse innovation which takes place when the product is developed for emerging nations but becomes popular in richer marketplaces. After reverse innovation comes incremental innovation which means “simply building upon what already exists,” according to Business News Daily. “Examples of incremental innovation include men’s razor blades, which started with one blade and now have three or four, and the automobile, which is consistently being updated with new features and technology.” Last, but not least, Business News Daily says that the final form of innovation is known as a breakthrough —an idea that’s the first of its kind.

At Sodexo, one of our latest innovations is the newly implemented Certified Executive Chef Training Program. Designed both to enhance the consumer experience and encourage professional development among our employees, this program takes Sodexo chefs through rigorous training in preparation for the official American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Chef examination. Having certified executive chefs—the highest culinary ranking—feeding our students at the universities we serve not only assures the best quality food and service, but aligns with our company’s core values.

We know that the key to differentiating our business from our competitors means keeping Sodexo’s core values at the forefront of the company. Additionally, we must promise to foster innovation and continue thinking creatively in order to meet growing consumer demands. Determined for success in all areas of our business, we promise quality above all else and to never stop exploring new ways to improve.

One comment on “Above and Beyond: How to Differentiate from your Competitors

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    Adam Deviney says:

    It’s great that your company is doing this, bravo for that. It does however state false information regarding the Certified Executive Chef status as the “highest culinary ranking”… The certifications CCA Certified Culinary Administrator, and the CMC Certified Master Chef are both higher rankings within the American Culinary Federation. The CMC certification is far beyond the CEC certification.


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