How Compass Group’s Foodbuy head learned customer relations

Photo credit: Foodbuy

Growing up in Charlotte, N.C., Patrick Lynch developed a taste for sales and support early on. Lynch’s family owned catering companies and childcare centers in the city, and helping out in these businesses gave him a passion for customer-facing roles.

Today, Lynch is head of sales at Compass Group North America’s Foodbuy division, a procurement services organization that works with hotels, restaurants and healthcare businesses to provide everything from food and facilities management to office supplies and support services.

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Patrick Lynch
Patrick Lynch

Early Years

While a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Lynch was an intern at GE Capital Equipment Solutions and was offered a full-time position upon graduation. He spent the better part of a decade working in several different capacities at GE Capital, all within the world of business development and managing sales teams.

In 2011, his division at GE Capital was sold, and Lynch had to consider his next steps. After several years in Los Angeles, he was eager to work his way back to Charlotte, and he considered the company where his sister worked, Compass Group North America. After nearly three years with the company, he joined the company’s Foodbuy division—working in Charlotte, back where he began.

Foodbuy

“This opportunity here with Foodbuy really allows us to go out into unique sectors,” Lynch said. When he started with the Foodbuy team, he began selling business development on the hospitality side, focusing on hotel-management companies, brands and resorts. “So it was a perfect match and a marriage based upon having a love of culinary, a love of people and obviously a love of sales," he said. "They all kind of came together and that's how I landed.”

In his role as a sales manager for Foodbuy, Lynch spends a typical day supporting the team’s eight sellers and overseeing the business-development team responsible for bringing in new members. “We're going out into the resort-management and hotel-management and brand space, evangelizing the Foodbuy story,” he said. “We're meeting with hotel executives from C-level all the way down to chief-procurement-level individuals, articulating how we can affect their supply chain on not only the food side but the nonfood side, as well. We understand that acquisition cost is everything to these operators, and if we can truly help protect their bottom line by offering them world-class hospitality procurement services (which ultimately gives them Fortune 100 purchasing power) and leverage that, it allows them to go out and create a return for their shareholders.”

Foodbuy’s clients include management companies and asset owners alike, but Lynch sees particular benefits in partnerships with brands. “By unleashing additional capital and driving costs down in their supply chain, they can then in turn do a couple of things,” he said. “They're able to redeploy resources internally and focus on more activities that are strategic to their bottom line versus tactical things that typically fall [to procurement departments]. They can also generate an income stream, which allows them to invest in new hotels and then to get new clients.”

Lynch also oversees Concierge by Foodbuy, the company’s dedicated brand for its hospitality and leisure channel. The brand works with more than 15,000 hotels to customize each property’s procurement solutions. “We go out and into the field and offer Fortune 100 contracting power, which again helps reduce the cost on both food and nonfood essentials,” he said. “We really look at ourselves as an extension of their procurement teams and as their on-demand procurement partner. We're able to augment and enhance some supply-chain solutions, whether they have a full procurement department or if they’re a smaller company just starting out with a one- or two-person procurement department. We mold and fit into their existing procurement philosophy and their team to help drive and deliver supply-chain solutions on the food and nonfood side.”

Clicking with Clients

Relationships in the hospitality space are vital. In hospitality, folks don't really leave. They just move around because the industry is so great. Everyone knows everyone, so we really rely on personal relationships to strengthen our existing business. When you form a new relationship, it helps protect the relationships that you already have because when things go wrong and you've got a relationship to stand on, you're not just a commoditized price. We benefit from a 99-percent retention rate here at Foodbuy due to our great relationships, and then when forging new business partnerships, existing clients tell the stories to folks in their professional networks and they say, ‘Look what Foodbuy has been able to do for me.’