Yes, yes, I know what people say — New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. Or, why wait until New Year’s to make a resolution? Well, industry friends, if you’re into making resolutions, I have a few for you — if you’re not into making resolutions, then let’s just call them “suggestions.”

  1. Donate more (food, time, money, assistance, etc.) to the communityMany of you do this already, and you also send out news releases on your efforts. You don’t have to proclaim your greatness after doing so (donating or announcing it), but you should be helping your local communities in some way, and then also simply stating the facts and letting the local media know about it. Even if it goes unreported, it doesn’t go unnoticed.
  2. Soften the hearts of company Grinches— Everyone dislikes something about their job, no matter how rosy and “perfect” the corporate culture appears to be. Furthermore, corporate culture and employee morale in this industry isn’t always rosy and perfect. Improve the dialog with your people, and that in turn will improve morale. Sometimes, being heard and understood is enough (although don’t believe simply lending an ear makes everyone happy — see Resolution No. 5).
  3. Converse with consumers— Analyzing market data and trends is one thing, actually discussing them with consumers is another, much more powerful tool, in my opinion. Maybe you don’t like “talking shop” with friends, family members, acquaintances, even strangers — but you could be missing out on some brutal honesty about your products or company, or something NOT offered that you could be capitalizing on. Don’t bank on your retail/foodservice customers to know all about their shoppers — they may, they may not. And remember, God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.
  4. Be more transparent— Right now, the consumer media acts very much as an enemy to the industry. It’s viewed as a liberal, left-wing mudslinger more interested in entertaining than informing. But not every media member fits into that category. Opening your doors a crack certainly is “risky” by old standards, and yes, there will be some who are driven away by what the industry does. Yet, I attended three industry media events in 2013, where consumer media saw it all and didn’t bat an eye in most cases. Knowledge is powerful — capitalize on it.
  5. Take care of No. 1:  your people— Furthering Resolution No. 2, once you know what your employees need or want, why not throw them a bone now and then? Yes, it’s a tight business, where every cent counts; but every morale boost that you give, every reason you give your employees to be loyal, work hard and trust that you have their backs puts positive currency in the bank of efficiency, and that leads to yield and bottom line.

What resolutions do you have (other than losing weight, being nicer to family, saving more money, etc.) for the New Year? Feel free to share them with me (I promise not to tell anyone, but maybe I’ll be your personal “resolution coach” for the year to keep you honest!) at