To catering managers across the land - ‘Happy New Year?’

by Willie Biggart

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Apologies that, ‘Happy New Year?’ for the moment at least, is a question rather than being a genuine wish. Perhaps, if you are a catering manager, you can understand more than most why the question mark is required. The list of things being still worked through at the end of 2021 is never far from our minds...

  • Re-staffing catering teams
  • Workplaces/head offices decreased in size and with flexible working practices
  • Increased individualism in catering requirements
  • Higher expectations for online ordering user experience Increased overheads

Some of these are pandemic related - none of them are going away soon.

But let's lift our heads...are there solutions for those wanting to be on the front foot again at the turn of the year? I think so.

Be Thorough and Make It On Your Terms!

Simply put, offer online ordering but manage it comprehensively.

Look again at the list of issues being faced. Can you make menus available for some days only, and for part of the day? Why have a full menu option on days when less workforce are around...or if your team is reduced? And if someone uses their profile to ‘re-order’ does the system automatically let them know that it’s not possible this time round? Set a minimum order - but don’t apply it to certain VIP customers? Have some menus for pick up only? Limit the amount of orders in any given time slot?

These are real, time consuming, admin heavy, scenarios which need to be, and can be avoided with tech solutions. Proper online order management protects your staff and keeps your customers in the picture without a list of emails, phone calls - and hassles!

The Spoonfed team assessed our requirements and they helped us to build a user-friendly system for our clients to order for themselves. Previously we had a complex paper system, which was time consuming and could be prone to human error. The Spoonfed system has allowed us to minimise wastage of food as we can plan ahead based on what has been ordered by the clients. It also ensures that we can control staffing levels too. Catering Manager, Chichester University

Match Your Customer’s Expectations

If menu management protects your staff capabilities, the need to respond to a more sophisticated customer is the other side of the catering coin. Two thoughts. One is fundamental, the other typical of the options available for success:

Firstly, online ordering is now second nature in the retail market. However, attempting that for corporate orders and an App built for B2C will soon falter. Avoid going down the ‘square peg - round hole’ route. Match your online catering order system to the context of corporate and events requirements and give the customer an experience to match their expectations.

Secondly, the rise of the Flexitarian. The p.a. placing the orders for a meeting or event is just as unhappy about guessing who is vegetarian this week as the caterer is. With disappointed customers and food waste waiting in the wings, a Group Ordering functionality, built for a corporate context, is a fantastic solution.

Make Flexibility Your Friend in 2022

Yes, a reduced catering team - but you are determined to offer a service.

Yes, a fluid customer base - but there is opportunity to reach them.

Having a system which opens up more than one style of service or style, gives you opportunities which you may have felt were unmanageable. With tech solutions meaning less time-wasting admin the catering team have the wherewithal to extend their reach and start to thrive again.

Spoonfed’s developments in their online catering management software give the necessary flexibility to take opportunities. They are aimed at giving catering managers and their teams the tools to deliver B2B catering efficiently and successfully, even in the face of substantial pressures.

2022 is almost upon us and I am ready for it. Hope you are too. At Spoonfed we are less inclined to have a 'Here's our product' mindset and prefer to say , 'Come with us' - and as one (difficult?) year ends and another begins that seems pretty appropriate.

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