Chances are if you dial in to Jules Catering from nine to five, Monday thru Friday, you’ll be greeted by either Stephanie Vargas or Daniela Avila–distant cousins, close friends, and administrative support professionals who–without prompting–let us know, “we work really well together,” and “we love our jobs!”
A productive collaboration
While each is fully able to support or even sub for the other, and while the work they perform feeds into the same rapid-fire sequence of events through which orders generated by the sales team are transformed into food and service delivered to Jules’ clients, Stephanie is primarily charged with preparing invoices and generating food labels, while Daniela develops the Excel spread sheets upon which all members of the Jules team rely.
“Because Stephanie and I are such close friends, we find it easy to motivate one another,” Daniela explained. “Not just at work, but also outside. For example, each morning before we come into the office we meet at a fitness club and work out together–and Friday nights, when our brains are fried–”
“We let off steam by going dancing with friends,” Stephanie smiled.
Never have they said, “It’s not my job”
Although administrative support responsibilities generally keep them closely tied to computers and phones, each has what it takes to expand beyond their usual roles and take on assignments that fall outside any formal job description. For example:
Short-notice staffing problem? No problem! Both Stephanie and Daniela have wait-staff experience with Jules and can hurry off to a catered event to help serve drinks, pass hors d’oeuvres, clear tables, or…
Oops! A menu item has somehow failed to be loaded onto a van already en route to an event soon to be populated by hungry people? Hand over the keys! Both Stephanie and Daniela know how to negotiate metro-Boston traffic and deliver the goods on time.
More often, though, the two can be found at their desks, focusing on their primary responsibilities–responsibilities that are fundamental to pretty much all the work that’s accomplished at Jules.
She’s a young ‘old hand’
At age 16 Stephanie Vargas began to provide administrative support for Jules. Each day after school, she’d stop by for a couple of hours, to file spreadsheets and help out with other office tasks.
Before long, Stephanie also became a reliable member of the wait-staff team, serving food at Jules-catered events in a variety of venues.
Now, having worked for Jules Catering for eight years, Stephanie understands how the administrative support she provides fits into the big picture: “And the nice thing is, I’m always learning something new, whether I’m picking up tips from the sales people on how I might better interact with clients, or learning some fascinating bit of information about some new-to-me kind of food.”
She excels at Excel
Soon after Daniela Avila graduated from Suffolk University in May 2011, where her studies were “all about business” (i.e., marketing, entrepreneurship, and business management), she was hired by Jules to provide additional administrative support.
“Especially with some of Jules’ longtime clients, who order daily, keeping track of what they’ve ordered in the past is essential. Anita and the chefs are always coming up with something new, which is great because we of course need to keep ‘mixing it up.’ And it helps that we can refer back to spreadsheets that date back as far as nine years, so that the food we provide never becomes run-of-the-mill.”
In addition to working with the all-important spread sheets, Daniela is beginning to develop a Facebook presence for Jules and–when the time is right–she will begin to tweet.
A system that works
What about these spread sheets we see all around, both upstairs and down? we inquired.
Daniela filled us in: “Each morning, first thing, I separate out from every order written up by members of the sales team each menu item that needs to be ordered, prepared, and delivered the following day. I work with the white copies, Stephanie will eventually develop invoices from the pink copies, yellow copies go to the cold kitchen, green go to the hot. The challenge is to be absolutely accurate and to leave nothing out–and also to make things perfectly clear so that chefs, drivers, everyone can easily grasp the information they need to deliver the right food to the right client on time.”
Stephanie weighed in: “As soon as Daniela finishes with spreadsheets for the following day–usually about 4 or 4:15 each afternoon–I begin to create food labels. Nothing is handwritten, and we’ve developed a color-code system (for example, orange highlighter represents hot food) so that everyone involved in the work flow can see at a glance which particular tasks must be tackled by each particular person. Because on a typical day we’re dealing with at least 50 orders, this is a fast-paced, deadline-driven type of operation, with little-to-no room for error.”
But it’s never boring! On that–and so much else–Stephanie and Daniela agree.
Photo Credits: Liz Muir