Recently, Health-e Pro added two new experienced school foodservice professionals to the Customer Success team. Renelle Leinbach, SNS and Sandra Meister, MS, RD, LDN bring to Health-e Pro a wealth of experience in nutrition and food service management. This move helps to solidify the company as more than just nutrition software, but a partner in helping improve food service departments; whether schools, catering companies, or management companies.

We sat down with Renelle and Sandra to learn more about their backgrounds, what they’re excited about at Health-e Pro, and where they see great opportunities for helping our customers. 

What is your background in Child Nutrition? 

Renelle: My early background in school nutrition was in auditing and conducting administrative reviews for the National School Lunch Program. In order to get government funding and reimbursement, every three years districts have to go through a review process, checking in and making sure all the requirements are being met. We would look at a snapshot of the menu, see if requirements were being met, and offer suggestions for improvement. 

Then I connected with Southwest Foodservice Excellence where I focused more on the procurement side including purchasing, orders, bids, all the rules to follow to order food, how things happen in the kitchen, how recipes are created. 

Sandra: I started in School Nutrition over a decade ago working for a school-based health center. It was a doctor’s office in a school setting–nutrition counseling with teenagers–often involving what they ate at school and helping them pick the healthiest thing they could on the menu. We worked with students with diabetes, provided after-school cooking demonstrations, and school gardening in the state of Illinois. 

I had never gardened but was given the project by the Nurse Practitioner who started it. I thought, I don’t know a weed from cilantro, so this should be good! That led me into school initiatives, and the particular grant we had was a farm-to-school grant, so that experience led me to IDEA, a large school district in Texas. There I did menu planning, recipe writing, and worked with manufacturers and distributors. 

It was very insightful seeing the purchasing process and learning how long forecasting takes.  Then I learned how vital it is to prepare the menu well in advance to make sure you get the product in time. I can understand the frustrations foodservice directors have because I’ve been there.

What brought you to Health-e Pro? 

Renelle: While I was doing work for SFE, I was connected with Health-e Pro and started helping some of their districts do EZ Reviews–a service to prepare districts for an Administrative Review. Here I was doing Reviews for one company using their software, while at the same time helping districts prepare for Reviews with Health-e Pro using Health-e Pro’s software. I had my frustrations with the other software, and when I started working with Health-e Pro’s software, it was a game changer. This program is so much better; I wish everyone used this! As Health-e Pro evolved, I realized how cool the company was, and I liked all the people, so when they came to me with an opportunity to join the Customer Success team, it felt like a perfect fit. 

Sandra: Before I was at IDEA, I had used some of the other well known menu planning software programs. But while I was at IDEA, I used Health-e Pro. With Health-e Pro, from day one, I hit the accelerator; I found it very user-friendly. Our whole team really liked using the software.  We worked on projects at the same time, putting in recipes and ingredients. 

When this opportunity came up with the Health-e Pro Success team, the first word I saw on the job description was the word empathy, and that’s what made me want to apply. Maybe we don’t focus on that enough in business, but it’s one of the key things to help build relationships, especially in this industry. If I have empathy for a foodservice director because I’ve experienced what they’re going through and understand all the stress their job entails, I’m better equipped to help. I’ve been through this, and I know how to use the program efficiently; I can show how easy it can be with this software, and show them all the tips and tricks to make their job easier. 

What excites you about this role?

Renelle: While I was a contractor for Health-e Pro, I started to get to know everyone and to see how the company worked. Seeing who the people are and how they interacted was big for me. Working with great people was also high on my list, and our customers are great. 

Sandra: What intrigued me about this is that it’s Customer Success and not so much customer support. It’s a paradigm shift. It moves from customer calls about a technical issue to planning ahead, and building a relationship with customers as they move along in their journey. We’re proactive instead of reactive. I’m really excited to get to know the schools, the customers, and see how their programs are different and use those examples as a baseline when talking to other schools, to provide help and support for all different kinds of operations.

For me, it’s relationships. When they call, they know me by name, and I know how to help them in their specific situation. I want them to feel like I’m competent and I can really help them, and they feel comfortable calling me. That’s what I’m most looking forward to.

In part II, learn what has surprised both Renelle and Sandra the most so far in their new roles on the Customer Success team, what has impressed them most about Health-e Pro software, and what they love most about serving in this industry!