Increasing Average Daily Participation w/Kern Halls

 

School Nutrition Dietitian 1 Episode Transcript

Dalia

Thanks for joining me Kern. I know you're very busy,  so I appreciate your time. For everyone who's not familiar with you, could you give a little bit of a rundown of how you came to be in school nutrition?

Kern

All right, thank you, Dalia. My name is Kern Halls. I'm the Chief Innovator for Ingenious Culinary Concepts. What our company does is that we help K-12 school food service programs improve the products and services that they provide to their customers on a daily basis. For myself, I kind of accidentally fell into school food service. My background is that I was in the military for eight years as a culinary specialist, then transitioned to Walt Disney World was a manager managing $18 million in sales at a restaurant at Walt Disney World. Honestly I was working a lot of hours at Disney World  and my wife told me that hey, there's opening in school food service. And I didn't know what school food service was, and I was just used to get in my square piece of pizza, chocolate milk and corn on a daily basis. And then, you know, I looked at the job, because I just want to kind of create more balance in my life. And so I applied for the job as a Training Manager in Orange County Public Schools, which is the 10th largest district in the nation. At that time, we had about 175,000, students had about 195 school sites, I applied for the job and got it. My job was to create more consistency within the school district because they were  about to be taken over by a management company. We had to figure things out, we had a director was there about a year before I got there. She said, Kern let's create some consistency, and let's get some things going. I got a promotion within about a year to senior manager and then my role changed, I still had to do consistency in training, but I was in charge of marketing, special projects, oversaw the secondary menu, I was also over the training team, and culinary team. So there was a lot and then coming into that role brand new, not knowing what school food service was, I just started searching the country seeing, okay, who's in a marketing position, who's has a marketing title. I couldn't find anyone. Even though I was a Marketing and Business Management major, I had to kind of figure it out and build a plane as it was flying. And so I just started going to different conferences and doing a lot of focus groups with students. I kind of felt like I was on an island by myself, even though I’d contact you know, neighboring school districts and people around the country. It was unique, because what I found out school food service is totally different than any food service program that I belonged to from the military to corporate America is just unique, and it's just something that you have to learn and have to love and doing this because you know, day to day has its challenges. You know, not only was I in charge all those things, also to run all 23 of our  high schools. So I'm like, okay, this is a challenge for us. And also, you give me the hardest segment in school food service. So it was something that it took some time, but we eventually started working really hard at it. When I got there 18 of the 19 schools were in the red, they weren't making money, participation was low, the quality was really bad and we had to try to get the trust and get our customers back in. So I like I tell my clients when I started my company Ingenious Culinary Concepts after eight years of being Orange County, I wanted to help people on a larger scale, and our premise is that we always start with our customers. We start with focus groups, we have over about 3000 hours of focus groups. We use that to kind of look at the data and see how can we take a micro approach to increase the student consumption. How we do that is that you sit down with the students, we see what are some of the barriers. How does the customer service look, how are operations, how's the food quality, how's the menu, we look at all these different areas, and then we develop a plan to execute. One of the things I found out that works well for me and I works well for my clients is that when we implement is that we don't go big what we do is we try to go find one or two schools and do a pilot perspective process. And then we scale it from there and that way to frontline employees, the discussion is everybody's involved, but it's not too much. And number two it's not a big capital investment up front. I use the term that this is a marathon, not a sprint, you're not going to be get overnight results  saying ‘I'm going to go from 30% participation to 85% participation’, because it's going to take some time to really talk to your customers and see exactly what you can do to get them in the cafeteria.

Dalia

So when you work with your clients, you say you have them start a small pilot and then scale and that you've already collected 3000 hours of focus group data, are you able to apply the feedback you get in some parts of the country to all parts of the country? Do you find that now that kids are more connected via social media that they tend to go through food phases together as a nation? Or do you still find a lot of differences from one state or one county even to the next?

Kern  

Great question. So what we do is that even though we have a lot of focus group data, in our focus we try to drill down and see what's unique to that area. Because if I do a focus group, and let's just say its Georgia, and we start building menus, well with the students in Georgia cheese grits may be very popular. Well, that's gonna be hard to sell in New Hampshire. There's a lot of similarities, but then there's some differences. So we have to see exactly, you know, what's the wellness policy in that school, what's the, you know, there are a whole bunch of dynamics that you have to figure in and see exactly what's going on to build a program, really specifically for that school district. But we are seeing that some trends with students are the same across the board. So for example, students do not want to wait in line, they want to hurry up and get their lunch or breakfast and spend time with their friends. So that's one thing from an operation standpoint, we try to create additional point of sales, where students can come in and get their meals and they can sit down and talk to their friends.  From that standpoint, we see now that technology has changed customer expectations. When I first started school food service in 2005, well, technology wasn't as big, you know, my space was just happening. And then I saw the trend over to Facebook, and demand went up for all these different social media platforms. And so what I try to inform my clients is that, okay, it's going to be really challenging to reach your students on social media. But there's ways you can reach them and other ways that you can reach out to them, and try to get them connected to the program. Because once you get them connected, they're going to feel it and take apart again. This will help you increase your participation and get more students eating.

Dalia  

What are you seeing as the most effective way, these days, to connect with the students? Is it still in person activities, like actually having those panels where they invited to be part of problem solving and part of menu development?

Kern

Yeah, so it's a combination. When we come into our clients, we have a whole process, that's, you know, let's just say one through 10. And you can't skip any parts of the process, because connecting with the students nowadays is challenging, because we can send out tweets or post on Instagram but  are they really going or follow you or that social media icon, or that sports figure that's on there or their friends on Snapchat. So it's sometimes challenging to catch them unless you can have a promotion, or something like what's in it for me, what I found out that one of the best ways to reach them is via text, because this is a texting generation. Texting, having promotions, and getting them involved in focus groups can keep you connected.  Then one of the most underutilized ways to reach students is with guest posts, because students probably will not stop follow the school food service program. Their parents or loved ones might, but they will follow the school's instagram or twitter account, they usually follow them because there's a lot of information coming out. So like I tell my clients, that sometimes the best thing to do is maybe once or twice a month, you have to do a guest post and say that, okay, here's some of the things are going on in your program, not boring them to death every single day with what's on the menu. You can use your texting service or if you have an app in your school district that can use. Do a guest post  and then you can make what's in it for you what we call the CTA, what's a call to action that that student needs take, once they read that post, what is in for them? It can be something as simple as going into going into the cafeteria, and I can eat lunch or win the $25 gift card or whatever it may be ecause sometimes school districts they're like, Oh, well, we don't have the budget to giveaway, 25. I'm like, you have no choice, you have to set aside some kind of marketing budget to make sure you grab the students. So what if you set aside for the school year $200 per school? Well, they're generating revenue, and they're getting the sales in there, that's going to get back into your program, because nine times out of 10, you're going to have a 5,6, or 7 percent bump in participation, that's going to  your offset the amount of money that you put into the marketing of your program.

Dalia   

See, that's huge, because that was the first thing that popped into my mind is people are going to say they don't have the money for it. So really, you can't afford not to. I saw on your site, one of your favorite quotes is that “you can pay now or pay later, and the latter is always more expensive”. So that totally ties into that, you just have to put the money in, because if you don't have participation, you literally can't fund your program, and there's no way for you to be successful. So that really makes sense when you explain it that way. And the what's in it for me question. I guess that is the basis of marketing, pretty much you have to figure out what the pain points are for your clients and address that. So how did you figure out that wait times for an issue? Was that just from observation? Was that surveys or feedback that you've gotten? And different parts of the country? Or how do you even figure out what is turning kids off from the program?

Kern  

Okay, before I get to the wait time I know sometimes we don't have the budget. But this is one of the things I always tell people, you have to get creative. If you're using programs that have reward programs in place. There are numerous programs that if you're buying product x, you can earn points to get gift cards or different prizes. That's a way to utilize a resource that you have now, if you work through a lot of brokers and manufacturers. But for students, the way that we got a lot of the data was sat down and talked to students.  In focus groups their number one complaint is always long lines. When I go on site to see one of my clients, we go to the pilot schools that we deal with. And then I literally pull up my phone and hit the stopwatch, and I see how long it takes to get to the line. So in some schools, I see wait times as long as 10 to 12 minutes. Well if you only have a 30 minute lunch and you spend half your time in there students says I'm not going to eat with you, I can hold off or eat in an hour and a half, two hours, or I can come in with you. So we have to see how we can improve that. And I've seen schools where we just open another cart, open up another point of sale, if they don't have money for another point of sale, you could use an existing register, if you have enough space ask your IT department to do a splitter and put two registers there, with two bodies that way you can speed the line up. And sometimes you say well, I don't have the labor hours.  Do a test started for 60 days, hire somebody for three or four hours and just see, if you start seeing your sales sales increase, which you will nine times out of 10, then you can afford to say Okay, you know what, I'm going to bring this person on full time to see. Because from the data that we've collected, students make up their mind about the program within the first two to three weeks for the rest of the school year. So you have to make an impact right out to the gate, and making sure that you get through a service. And it's just like an adult, if we had 30 minutes for lunch and the line at the restaurant or fast food restaurants is really long, you're probably going to bypass and go to the to the shortest line or restaurant. So you can get back to work in a certain period of time. And that's the way the students feel,

Dalia   

That's a really good point. And a lot of people have extremely short lunch periods, surprisingly short. And by the time you drop your stuff off at the locker and get to the cafeteria, you're already looking at about 20 minutes left to eat. And what you mostly want to do at lunch is socialize. So it really isn't fitting in well with your plans if the lines are super long. So that totally makes sense. So texting, and promotions and guest posts are good ways to get in front of people. Now when it comes to texting, do you have any programs that you recommend? Or are there any meal planning programs out there that also do that? Well, that have that technology embedded in it?

Kern   

Well, so one of the things is that sometimes people are afraid to use it. And I always tell people to start off small like, for one of my clients, he started off just in one school, and just perfected the texting, got it all done, and then started getting, increasing more and more throughout the school. Because if you look at a lot of social media accounts, if you really look at the followers, you're going to see that the majority of followers aren't students.A lot of times, if you look at it it’s other school districts following other school districts trying to learn what they can do better. And it's great to do but what are you using to really get to the students, that's the customer that you need to get to. And so and it's not easy, it's just something that you have to work really hard, you got to be in the schools. I just did research and the number one issue that people have for implementing programs all together or trying to do incentives is that they either have a challenge with funding, or the second thing is lack of manpower. So they don't have enough hours in a day. And I get that because when I was in my position with everything on my plate, if a school ran out of gas or didn't have food, everything drops, no more marketing, you need to make sure that students get fed. And then you have to start over again at one, two o'clock to try to, you know, start work get back on your project that you're doing. So I totally understand where people are coming from. So that's why I always tell school districts if you can afford in your budget, to get someone to help you out find someone local that you can hire for three or four hours to come help you to execute some of the items you have if you don't have a consultant or whatever you can do set aside a budget because if you ever hire a graphic artist, or social media person and another project manager, you're spending well over $100,000 a year on salary and benefits. But maybe you can get someone part time that maybe can work three or four hours three times a week to help you execute your ideas or wherever vision that you have for your school district. And it helps you move you along that will cost you way less in salary and benefits.

Dalia  

I really think that's the wave of the future because it is becoming so expensive to pay for benefits that more and more people are moving into freelancing. Then you can help districts that really don't have the budget to hire someone full time. So what are the key terms then that people should even be looking for? If they want to outsource their marketing and they want to hire someone as a consultant? I'm not even sure everybody really knows how to approach that since that hasn't always been a position that existed in school nutrition. How would you select a good candidate?

Kern

So great question, because we have had multiple people that have asked us and called us said, Hey, I hired this consultant to come in. School food service is such a niche business, you either know it or you don't. So you can’t hire consultants trying to figure out things as they work for you. So you'd want to try and do some research and say, What is your experience? What can you do? Here's one of my fears and the challenges I have? How can you fix it?  You get that person to let you know exactly what they can do and the timeframe they are going to do it in. Make sure you hold them accountable for that. We can also look at there's some great resources, a lot of directors retire, they have a great resume, and they have moved the needle in their school district and done some things that are totally unique and different. Retired directors, they don't need benefits, they really don't have to work a whole bunch of money. But how can you work with me to get my district on board? Or like people call us all the time and say, well, we need some things that are cutting edge and a different innovative. So they will call us and ask us to say Kern, here's our budget, what can you do for this budget. And I think that's the honest conversation. what I see is a lot of directors, they kind of say, Well, I don't know my budget, or they're trying to, you know, kind of be a little skittish about financial limits. But you get better results working communicating, okay, I have X amount of dollars, we're here all the things you could do for X amount of dollars, and get it going. But take it slow. So a consultant comes to you and says I want to make all this change, and I'll take all your schools at once, I would kind of be kind of cautious and leery about that. Because it's not going to be pretty, it's gonna be really hard to make change and execute it fully across the school district.  Your frontline staff has to make sure they can execute as well, especially if it's a menu item or it's a promotion, everybody has to understand what's going on and there needs to be training involved. If you’ve never done this before and all of a sudden, you're dropping this on them. It's totally new.

Dalia   

Okay, that makes a lot of sense. I forgot about the directors that aren't working full time anymore. That is a great resource.

So when you say you really have to be aware of the areas in which school nutrition is unique. So I know the regulations are unique, and our constrictions as far as things being healthy, are unique. But how else are we different from other areas of food service? Because I know what you having your culinary background in the Navy and then also at Disney those also seem like they would be kind of unique environments. What do you see, that kind of sets nutrition apart from even those sectors of food service?

Kern   

So one of the biggest things I saw because coming from the military to Disney, it was, you know, government and federal government to Disney. Disney had great innovation, they want us to think outside the box to do things that are unique and different. When I got to school food service, it was kind of like cookie cutter, and this is back in 2005. Here's a reimbursable meal, like what in the world is a reimbursable are reversible meal, then how are you kind of potato as a vegetable and it's a starch.  So these were all things I had to kind of realize and learn. So it took me months to really learn this and get really entrenched in it. So I literally before I told my boss, like hold on, you know what, before I go any farther with any marketing, I'm going to go work in a school for a couple months, I'm going to learn I'm going to start washing dishes and just work my way up to being a cook. So I can understand the whole process of what it involved and the uniqueness is just you have to feed students in a short period of time, and then you have the regulations. Now the regulations change a little bit more. The uniqueness is what is that is that how these staff members executed flawlessly on a daily basis. It was just amazing to me, because you know, as you know, a lot of people in school nutrition aren’t the highest paid, they do a lot of great work, they have a big heart and they want to try to feed these students on a daily basis. So that's what made me really fall in love with school food service and that's what keeps me going as a consulting company to make sure I can help those staff members get those things going.

Dalia  

I love that. So, in the past, did you have any other entrepreneurial pursuits or projects, or this has been a first area where you felt passionate enough about helping larger amounts of people that you decided to branch out?

Kern

So I come from a family of entrepreneurs. So it's kind of like in my blood, my grandfather, you know, he basically was, you know, a brick Mason and he had his own business building houses. My mom owned daycare centers. So I just come from line of  entrepreneurs. So I started, you know, at five years old, I was washing cars by 10. I had my 1st business, this is the really bad part but I was selling candy in school, to the kids in school, right. I didn’t know the rules and regulations. So one of my first deals that I remember when I was 10, I went to a local bodega in Orlando. They had this pretty fortune gum. I saw you could buy in bulk and get a better pricing. And he the guy said, All right, I just sell it to you in bulk.  I bought it for a penny apiece, and sold it for 5. I went to school, when I sold out the first day, did that two more times and worked my way up to blow pops and then started selling. It just started going so I could have some money. Because we grew up without a bunch of money, I just had to figure out how I could get this going. Then by the age of 13, I started my own lawn business. Just cutting grass on Saturdays to people in your neighborhood. I learned about marketing, I knew which people to market to. There were single women in the neighborhood, that didn’t want to cut their own grass. So I would cut their grass and wash their cars. And after that I started my catering business when I was a little bit older, you know moonlighting on the weekends, and I started in the school district, and then formed the company that I have now. So it was just something I always wanted to do. So when I go to my clients, I don't talk to them in theory, I tell them about practice, here's some of the things I think you should do. Because I've made a lot of mistakes. And I've had some successes with some of the things that I've done. So we want to tell them that this is all practice and not theory that we're trying to tell them to do, things that are out of the box.

Dalia

Wow, that's a lot. As far as your experience goes. I think a lot of people are afraid of failure, because maybe they have always worked for someone else and there isn't as much risk get involved. So fear gets in the way of innovation. But if you've been putting yourself out there for that long, you've already figured a lot of these processes out. You can share best practices with people so they can minimize their risk. It's not like there's no risk at all, but that's why you start small and scale. But to even know when you were a kid that there was such a thing as a target customer to figure out intuitively that Oh, it's the single women in the neighborhood that don't want to mow the lawn themselves. That's pretty smart. That's very impressive. That's advanced stuff. I saw you have, I wanted to ask about your office therapist. I'm very jealous looking at the site I see that you guys have arrived. Is Daisy a boxer what type of dog is she?

Kern

Yes, Daisy is a boxer she turned seven in July. She’s the office therapist  she greets everybody, when she's not sleeping, she keeps everything lively, and she just wants to have fun,when you kind of you having a stressful day, she's always gonna come up and just want to play and go for a walk or do something. So it's she's really an asset  to the company.

Dalia  

That's awesome. It just really sounds like you found that niche for you. And the joy that you experienced doing your work really comes through and everything that you do I know you came out to our county to help us out with an inservice training. Our director had a very specific vision for what she wanted our employees experience. People still talk about how much they benefited from the training and it's been almost a year now. So to be able to have that type of impact and enjoy what you're doing. It has got to be awesome.

Kern  

Yes, yes, we love doing this because, you know,I grew up a free lunch kid. So another layer to this is that I understand what some of those free and reduced kids go through. Understand the paid kids, I understand that. We try to stay connected as much as we can so we know exactly what's going on. So when we come on to do training, we're just sitting up there yapping about without personal experience. We're practitioners, we've won tons of awards for the things that we've done, we’ve worked behind the scenes, and seen clients featured in the school nutrition magazine and food related magazines. I was happy to see in an article that came out just the other day, a food truck we developed back in 2007. It's still being shown in the media and on social outlets to this day. And I was really proud of that, because we created something that was forward thinking. So we didn't want to do the traditional food truck. So we did something that was totally unique, that would stand the test of time. And it's still being shown to this day students really love it. And it's making a huge impact in the community as well.

Dalia  

That really is full circle because I think we qualified for free lunch one year. But most of the time that I was in public school, I was on reduced. Things have gotten so much better but the biggest room in the world is room for improvement. So having people out there who are bringing innovations to the field to benefit the kids that were serving now is something I love to see, because I'm sure you can see that being well fed, set you up for success, or at least was a part of that. I will not forget how different of an experience it is now then then, when it comes to people being able to spot who the lower income kids were, before that was taken care of in the program. People didn't realize how shameful it was for some kids to come through with a meal ticket of a different color. And that was something that people I guess, just failed to think about. But now that that's been resolved, what a service that is to our kids, and it's just a small thing. But just little tweaks like that are always happening and making the program better and better so that the entire interaction that kids have with the nutrition program can be 100% positive, like that is the goal, or at least like 99.9

Kern  

Yeah, definitely, definitely. Yeah. And the ones that what I would say the ones have been that was unique for what I was working in school food service and as a consultant is that people would say well, we don't do that school food service. I'm like. Yeah, I understand we don't do in school food service. But let me talk to you about innovation. So we as a company, we look down the street and around the corner where no one can see anything and try to find those trends and patterns that can really put you ahead of the curve. So when back in 2005, when I started doing food trucks, before the food truck trend even started taking off. And that helped us a lot. When we started putting carts outside. A lot of individuals weren't using carts back then I said, let's do carts, we did it at Disney World all the time. Those carts were generating sometimes 75 to $100,000 a day. When we finally did in our school district, within a second year, we're generating $1 million  in revenue of those carts just with an additional point of sale. And it's no different than the kiosk in the mall. You see the you know, different shopping centers or other malls, it's just using the same thing and do it but the only people that I see are going to really take a chance to do this is the individuals that are willing to go against the grain.While everyone's going left you’re gonna have to go right. Because I see sometimes that decision makers, they all kind of clump together. And they tell us a sad story of why stuff isn’t working. But the ones that are really out there by themselves. And saying you know what, we're going to try this. They're the ones that are having that success and moving the needle. And that's what you have to do, you have to really go out in your own way and do something different. And that's why I say start small and scale. That way, you can minimize your risk, and you can learn as you go along.

Dalia

That makes a lot of sense. So it sounds like it's primarily a mindset, when people are not innovating and aren't finding solutions to increasing their daily participation. They just have convinced themselves, they know why things are the way they are and it just is what it is.

Kern

Right and then you know, the second part is, you know it's sad to say, but there's no accountability. So if I don't do anything, what happens, you know if you were to look on the educational side, schools, success is based on grades, so if a school isn’t performing well, somebody's going to be moved, or they're gonna have a conversation with their superintendent. In school food service there aren’t a lot of accountability measures in place. So they can just do what they have to do. They might care. I'm not saying that they don't care. But there's no accountability tool, there's no needle. So if schools were school food centers were graded by grades that would kind of force them to be innovative. So that's where on the educational side teachers, principals, they're always looking for the next big thing, or what the can do to implement different strategies to bring the great grades up inside of the schools, and we have to kind of follow suit and try to see what we can do as a program.

Dalia  

That makes a lot of sense. I know, in our district, the superintendent is focused on applying the same standards that they have for the teachers and principals to everyone, using actual numbers and metrics to see whether or not they're hitting their goals. He's applying that to all departments. It has been a bit of a learning curve, being told that you need to have a plan for increasing your daily participation and having the steps set out and assessing throughout the year and making changes if you're not hitting those

markers.

Kern  

So yes, that's one of the things we focus on. I had a great leader.  My boss's boss taught us a lot about data. We didn't do anything unless we had action plans. We had spreadsheets, anytime we had a program, we had to make sure that we had the data to show there was the potential. We had to break down the free reduced, what is the potential for to get more free and reduce kids eating? So if you had 75% of your free kids eating? Well, how are you reach the other 25%? Or is it even worth it to go after them or is it time to focus on the paid? So that's how we would structure our growth. We had to report back out and that was how we completed our evaluation.

Dalia

That makes sense. It makes sense to break your target markets into different segments. So that's one thing I think is a little tricky about marketing, in terms of school nutrition, is that you have an audience where there's just so much diversity, as far as age like you want to get your message out to parents, to students, to people who are higher income middle, and people who maybe are a little bit lower income, how do you figure out how to focus your marketing efforts? Or do you just create plans for each segment?

Kern  

So it all depends where you're at, because sometimes it depends on the district and the school.  Let's just start with paid kids that have low participation. So let's just say at a high school where you might have an opportunity for improvement, well, they might have a little bit of income. So now you need to market towards them. Can you do al la carts, can you get more paid students? Can you serve fresh coffee? Can you have upscale meals? You want to try to figure out and see exactly what we can do to get this going. And then you want to look for the high free kids, you are looking at them and say, You know what? The free kids, we need to see exactly what's stopping them not to come through the line, because they literally can eat for free so what's stopping them. We market to them differently in this case from the standpoint of making sure that they know that the kids can get their meals for free. And then we'll talk to the parents and  see if they can bring him in, connecting with the friends possibly creating a buddy program? Would it be a special menu, whatever it might be, we try to see exactly how can we can bring them in, that call to action, what's in it for them, if they eat, they can get this prize, or they get a chance to win this or that or whatever it might be, because it's no different than what McDonald's or you know, Burger King or a fast food chain is doing to get those customers to come in.

Dalia

Right, I think sometimes the assumption is like if money is not a barrier than what possibly can be keeping them. You think that you may be have no competition at all if your meal is going to be free. But there's really always competition, whether it's just more free time for them to spend with their friends, or that they could get something from home. Even if it's just a granola bar or something, it doesn't mean they don't have access to any food at all days, we still have to compete for their patronage as well.

Kern  

Yes, and one of the advantages that school food service has over another fast food or any restaurant establishment is that you have all the students, you have a captive audience, because in the majority of school systems,they cannot leave the school. So the great thing is that you have everybody coming to you. So now you just had to figure out how are you going to get those customers in. So this is for a person that owns a restaurant, this is the perfect scenario, like everyone's here, I have options to get 500 students to come to my business, I just need to grab them. And so that's where you need to try to take full advantage of that and try to get those customers in. So you have to attract them. And the one positive thing we have  that you have that service. So you have to have that service and a smile, to get to know the students. I always talk about in my trainings is that you have to connect with those customers, you should know their names, if they're there for three or four years, you should you know their names, the students should know your name. So that's always something I stress, have your name tags on. So we want to utilize those kind of systems and put them in place to increase participation.

Dalia  

Right. And I think you really can't overemphasize that. Even though people are more and more into connecting to people remotely and being on their mobile devices, there's a lot of research that shows people are feeling increasingly isolated. Quality customer service and really connecting with people and giving them face time is becoming more and more important in response to that. So I think definitely our Gen Z students are really wanting that level of customer service and connection. That doesn't cost anything, maybe some time training, I guess but that it's not a big investment. Well, I've got a lot of takeaways now what would you say would be just two things you would tell people to do starting today, if they're not satisfied with their participation levels, or they haven't even looked at them recently.

Kern   

If they haven't looked at their participation levels, I would definitely want to see, where's the bulk of the need for your department. So I would pull the data and determine where do you need to change.  I would try to set a short term goal and a long term goal. So short term goal might be like I need to increase participation by 5% this year, but within five years you want to increase it by 20%. The second thing I would do is start looking at where am I going to get my help from? Is it going to be within the school district? Or is going to be outside source, like a consultant? Can it be someone that's great with numbers or the  finance department and say you know, can you help me break this down because sometimes you have a lot of resources within your school district that can help you. Who's your CFO, who’s the person working in town that can help you break the numbers down, and then you come up with an execution plan. So number two is like have an execution plan and actually go out there and do it. And that's our biggest thing as a company. We're about execution. Because sometimes can sit back and just talk about items and the next thing you know the school year is almost gone. Don't be afraid. Sometimes you have to put other things on the back burner, and just focus and get more students even inside your cafeteria.

Dalia  

That's awesome. Can you tell everybody where we can find you online and learn more about what services you offer?

Kern

Great, yes. So you can My website www.ingeniouscc.com.  Our number is 889943476. All of our social media handles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @ingeniouscc . So you can reach us at any one of those. You can even go to our website and sign up for our mailing list and where you can get information and see our blogs that are sent out once a week to once every two weeks. You can call us for a free consultation. It doesn't cost you anything. We can talk and see how I can help you out. Sometimes we do a lot of districts. And we just have a little song for free because we're just here to try to help you and get more students.

Dalia

That is awesome. Thank you so much.

Kern

Thank you for having me I appreciate it.