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Charlton House: Most common mistakes made by FMs when choosing a caterer

Author : David Strydom

24 October 2014

Caroline Fry, CEO of Charlton House Business and Industry, on the most common mistakes FMs make when choosing a caterer

Don’t Skimp on the brief – invest time to develop a thorough brief and allow those around you such as HR and your customers, to input too.  Often prospective caterers aren’t allowed – or given the time – to explore all areas of the business. If you are a multi-site operation allow prospective caterers time to explore the various locations, or speak to HR to discuss the organisation’s workforce, for example. As FM it’s your job to ensure you receive honest bids in return, and ones that can be compared on a like-for-like basis. Without this, the easy option is for the incumbent to be held in place despite this not necessarily being the best option. 

The lowest bid is not always the best - Decisions solely based on price will not stimulate a long-term partnership between you and your caterer.  You are buying-in a catering package to service your facility and a key business asset – staff.  By undervaluing this service and being disrespectful of the need for the caterer to make a profit, the relationship between client and caterer is more likely to be short lived and cost you money in the form of repitches.   Low costs can be an objective but should not be the driving force.

Good Workplace Nutrition is a business benefit  CH&Co has pledged to promote good workplace nutrition through our Wellbeingbeingwell healthy eating programme because of the proven business benefits such as reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. A caterer with the support of third party experts, such as the relationship Charlton House has with independent nutritionist Amanda Ursell, to keep them up-to-date with health and wellbeing initiatives, advise on new menu ideas and new catering regulations such as allergy labelling, will deliver business benefits in the form of a more productive, positive workforce.

Look beyond the food. Food is the central point, but how it is delivered needs to be considered. You may have a need for a front-of-house reception service, hospitality requirements and/or a vending service, for example. Look for a caterer who can deliver a seamless service across the board through an integrated management system. This will ultimately reduce complex supply chains, minimise your in-house contacts and reduce costs.

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