Bad News? - deal with it!
Things are getting better across the Catering and Restaurant sector - there is steady return to work for many and that will increase. As we have monitored Spoonfed users over the last year we can see that their order numbers are increasing However it’s not all good news - the cost of food is soaring, staff costs are rising and customers are still watching their spend too. And even the return of the caterer's customer base to the workplace is tempered by hybrid working patterns. It's now as important as ever for catering managers to watch the margins...
Hybrid Working Headaches
For those in the catering sector we know that coming out of pandemic restrictions was like reaching the surface and gasping for air again. However, and continuing the analogy, the subsequent hybrid working patterns now established are akin to a ‘Long Covid’ for catering firms with its associated sluggishness. Of course, this has huge implications for corporate catering firms and those running hospitality contracts across a range of sectors. You want to be able to offer a service but it needs to adapt to changed circumstances. How can tech solutions help catering managers face this challenge? There are two sides to consider: the tools need to be available so you can be flexible and sensible in how staff are managed, and being able to manage what you offer and how you offer it.
Don’t adventures ever have an end?
“Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story” - I’m retiring today and this Tolkien quote sums up things well. But so does ‘People make Business’ and there are a lot of them to mention I’ve been on an adventure – no doubt about that! Let me tell you about that…
Canine or ‘Can do’ Customers
How can you make sure your customers are more like cats than dogs?...Spoonfed may have a whole raft of modules for the catering team to manage every aspect of each order - It’s comprehensive! However, it is vital that all of this is fronted with a best-in-class, customer ordering experience.
Spoonfed Wins Tenders to Support Education Sector
Spoonfed cements a year of growth in the Education sector with preferred supplier awards from APUC and Holroyd Howe. Willie Biggart, EVP commented, “We were delighted to be successful in the APUC tender - it’s testimony to the efforts of the development team over the last couple of years continually introducing new features and business use cases to this sector.” These developments have seen Spoonfed secure a number of Universities and Colleges accounts across the UK and US - some independent operations and many with the largest global contract caterers.
Can Caterers be Confident?
Being confident in things is hardly in vogue at the moment. Too many cul-de-sacs. Too many uncertainties across too many areas of life. However, for catering businesses this is a time to be on the front foot – with the right tools the uncertainties can be managed – tech solutions aren’t magic wands making difficult times disappear - but they give catering teams the ability to work through the real issues being faced:
Lack of Time...killing recovery and resilience!
A recent independent survey of 250 head chefs, general and operations managers in contract catering, has looked at the key challenges impacting their operations - what role does technology have as they seek operational resilience and the ability to recover post Covid? Here is sum which catering managers are doing in their heads each day: What does Lack of Time + Incohesive Teams = ??
Because you're worth it!!
When managing complex catering orders with manual processes it can seem like a dream come true to discover a system which is comprehensive and thorough in the job it does. But is it worth it? Why spend on these solutions – after all, ordering via spreadsheets, emails and phone calls all come for free? Don't they…?
Hybrid doesn’t need to be Hell for Hospitality?
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield thinks hybrid work might just win after all, but commented, “we have 10 percent of the tools we need" when discussing what will be required in the post-pandemic workplace. ‘10% of the tools we need’?! Is this true for catering managers?
Watching the Margins
As the pandemic upset subsides and things become more encouraging there is no doubt that it's still not plain sailing in the Catering world - the cost of food is soaring, staff costs are rising - it's now as important as ever to watch the margins – do you have the tools to do that?
Group Ordering - increasingly popular! Who with and why?
The pandemic Cloud has lifted but the silver lining of the Group Ordering software enhanced remains. It’s all about me! - getting it right for individuals every time and making life easier for those organising catering orders…increase the scores on the feedback. Waste not, want not! - responsible and sensible business practices…increase the revenue! Group Ordering is covering a lot of bases
3 Reasons Why Now Is The Time for Universities & Colleges
Let's cut to the chase - we think the complex catering requirements at Universities and Colleges require specialist software solutions…There has never been a better time to consider what Spoonfed can
Blaming Others or Better Solutions
The continuing story of labour shortages continues to make the headlines with the UK Government receiving criticism for failing to see the shortages in the food and farming sector. Easy targets! Like a lot of things in life there is a danger that we do a lot of hand wringing and finger pointing but fail to step up and make changes to improve the situation.
Flexing to Alleviate the Pain Points where Possible
There was a mixture of anger and angst in the Hospitality Sector this week as the UK Chancellor failed to offer the tax relief many were hoping for. None of this has helped the return of the confident mood we were all looking for. As much of a struggle as it may be, the investment and forward planning must be the key element for many businesses. It’s not just about *‘muddling through for the next couple of months’,* it’s about recognising there have been permanent changes which food service operators need to embrace now.
Digital has become the Default
3 Key Points from recent Catering Research. Katy Moses, Founder and MD of KAM presented some up to the minute industry research at Arena’s recent Face2Face event in London Its results certainly chimed with what we have been hearing on the grapevine (and reacting to!) over the last few months...
Ready for the Road to Recover
When you read a short article in a Catering magazine peppered with the words like ‘Confidence’ ‘Growth’, ‘Increase’ and ‘Re-open’ it wouldn’t be unreasonable to start talking of things having turned a corner. What is the road to, and the reality of, recovering well?
A Christmas Recap...with swan delivery issues and missing milkmaids
Is it too late for a Christmas recap? There are still mince pies in the office, so I say, we are well within the statute of limitations on this one. For those caterers working through the last few difficult months it's gold medals, not gold rings, that need handing out.
To catering managers across the land - ‘Happy New Year?’
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...
‘Stick or Twist’ in the Bounceback?
Stick or twist?’ What happens when you remove those tech solutions which told customers you were Open for Business?
Customer Service - Core or Bolt-on?
SaaS - the clue is in the name! When we do a sales pitch with Spoonfed we don’t hold back on telling potential customers how much our customer service is appreciated. We’re convinced that customer service is not a little bonus or a nice touch if possible? Don’t be fooled into that sort of thinking.
Gaps In Your Thinking?
With the workforce returning, the catering industry has naturally had to fill the gaps in their teams, to bring back colleagues and look for new staff. There are gaps - but let’s think about how some of these can be filled with some innovation...
Traditional Thanksgiving Meals – but is how they are ordered stuck in the past?
It may seem slightly jarring to bring ‘tech solutions’ into the conversation about traditional Thanksgiving meals, with family and friends eating together. However, it was moving away from the traditional into the innovative which brought a much welcomed silver lining at that stage...and 2021 will be no different.
4 (or is it 6?) Reasons Universities and Colleges are knocking on our door
Some silver linings are easier to pick out than others…the interest from catering teams in Universities and Colleges across UK, Ireland and USA is certainly one which stands out for us at the moment. It’s been incredibly encouraging for us all...but what has led them to our door?
Staffing Stress needs a Solution
The issue of staff shortages was something which had been raised as a concern during the Brexit debates. There seems no doubt that the reality of these concerns have now been exacerbated by the pandemic with reports of 9 out of 10 contract caterers facing shortages this year.
Let me casually drop into conversation then, that in the last few months Spoonfed has seen the caterers in 3 of the World’s Top 10 universities* choosing to onboard our catering software system. A shocking piece of name dropping - or is it good news all round?
What’s next? Have your Cake and Eat it too?
In the last 18 months many caterers have taken hefty blows to their businesses. Many have only survived because they were able and willing to innovate in order to reach their (new?) customer base. But what is next? It’s great to see the excitement on social media as events start up again, staff come back from furlough and customers arrive to be wined and dined. Will your business go back to what it knew best? Why not have both? Having your cake and eating is possible - with the right tools!
Now that there is a desire to see ‘our people’ back in the office, there is a drive to make sure this is viewed as a ‘People First’ initiative. Perhaps this explains why there has been a certain shift in responsibility when it comes to taking the lead in how hospitality and catering orders are ordered and processed in businesses. Whereas it was often the facilities manager who might drive this, this is now being championed by those concerned with ‘client experience’ in the workplace.
Are You Ready!
If I could give you the clearest of snapshots into the turbulent year Spoonfed has been through it would be summed up by comparing June 2020 with May 2021. Our implementation team is now powering through their busiest period to onboard these new clients. What happened?
Back to School!
Are there key factors to the catering managers choosing Spoonfed? Lots - too many to lay out here. Their environment is pressurised with high expectations to deliver an exceptional culinary experience and to do all that with small teams and inadequate systems full of unnecessary admin. The long and the short of it is they want life to be easier - for everyone!
Don't Face The Battles Alone
There are a number of areas where the Pandemic has accelerated change in society - digital solutions in hospitality is one such. In the midst of the real and substantial challenges being faced catering managers can find that the pressure is relieved when technology is allowed to speak into the areas of how staff time is used hour by hour.
Reopen Right - Webinar
In a recent Arena webinar there were no crystal balls to be seen...and no hand-wringing either. Just a really open and helpful conversation by sector leaders.
I Tip My Hat
In recent weeks we have engaged in a number of 1:1 meetings with users with the aim of sharing with them our current roadmap and to hear from them - we wanted to understand not only their ‘joys’ but also be aware of the things that frustrated them - we all need to be appraised and to listen carefully to our customers. And what a refreshing initiative it has been.
Confidence with Credibility
Smaller catering teams, menu management issues, continuation of Covid secure service, changed workforce deployment, increased individualism in ordering and an expectation of a first rate user experience - all of these have become pressure points in the last 12 months. And each could be reasons for nervousness, depression and even defeatism. But we began determined to be confident and we certainly can be. But it needs to be credible confidence, not just confident for the sake of it. And it can be, with the knowledge that reading the signs and onboarding the correct tools, restaurants and caterers can begin to thrive again.
Patience for Tomorrow's World
For those of a certain age, the phrase ‘Tomorrow’s World’ may conjure up a 1970s TV programme, showcasing the next ‘new thing’: Electric cars, Mobile Phones, Compact Discs, touchscreens, HD (but it
Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and PREPARING
Maybe I've just always been a ‘cup half full’ person but working with a growing team and acting now to be ready for things growing again is where I want to be...what about you? We’re not pretending it isn’t hard, but we’re not giving in either and are keen to talk with those who aren't just wishing, hoping and thinking about better days but are preparing for them.
Flexing into a Brighter Future
Studies have shown that flexible working and the control and choice therein brings with it a wide range of positive health outcomes. Being able to add catering into this mix of control and choice is now in the hands of office managers for everyone’s benefit.
Times are a-Changin'
The times they are a-changin’!Bob Dylan’s iconic lyrics move effortlessly across the years. Perhaps there are just some moments in time more than others when Dylan’s lyrics just seem to cut through
Changing Landscape of Catering
A recent Spectator article referred to this future of the office as ‘a theatre of work, where you’ll be on the receiving end of a massive hit of social interaction and corporate effort to make the best of you’. Are we really going back to the same corporate catering experience as before? To wait and see may not be an option - the truth is that where there is flexibility to adapt there will be a pay off.
Did People Really Do That?
Someone once said the only lessons from history are that we don’t pay attention to the lessons from history. Well, maybe, but we can all do a simple thing like looking back and realising that we can do much better than before. By all means, give yourself a hard time for having been so slow to have seen what was staring you in the face for so long...and then move on, there’s work to be done…
Co-Working Communities are Hungry
We can have a think about why the word *‘community’* is often used in the context of coworking spaces, we can consider the ideology behind these spaces and we can look at the future flexibility for the workforce - but if someone doesn’t order lunch what’s the point anymore??
Who had the last laugh in 2020?
There’s not been much to smile about recently - even those whose businesses have been on the ‘winning side’ during the pandemic have done so in a climate of anxiety and uncertainty. What about the Hospitality sector? After the struggles of recent months do you think we will go back to our tried and trusted ways?
Tis the Season to be Vegan
For the caterer (especially in days of online ordering, but also looking ahead to things returning to face to face gatherings) making sure that your clientele know you take their vegan needs - temporary or otherwise - seriously is vital. The demand for vegan menu options means some caterers will be overlooked if they don’t step up properly.
2020 Vision or just 2020 Hindsight! What about 2021 Vision? What's your view of the months to come? Can you see something in your mind’s eye you want to bring to fruition. Do you have a view of what you believe can be achieved and have the imagination to set about working towards that goal. January is always a good time to take stock and to see how things can be improved
This year, it wouldn’t be a surprise if many in the Hospitality sector said, ‘Bah Humbug’ to any who might begin to talk about green shoots or even profitability. Are they right?
Style and Substance
Spoonfed are delighted to add Freedom Pay to their range of payment gateway partners which customers can integrate with. Such a significant piece in the catering jigsaw.
What do you put up with? And Why?
Many businesses are time poor because what began as ‘put up with it just now’ became a ‘that’s just how we do it’, solidified into an accepted ‘process’.
Our Black Friday 'Foodie' Five
For this year’s Black Friday frenzy Spoonfed have saved you the trouble of scouring the web pages to get the best deals. Here are our top 5! Things you didn’t know you needed and items you could easily live without - we’ve found them!
Adding to the Team - Getting the Basics Right
Spoonfed are adding to their team - again! What’s behind this move in the middle of these difficult times for the Hospitality sector?
Be a Hospitality Hero
Many businesses are going to find themselves in a quandary this year? There’s no opportunity for their usual end of year party and all the treats that go with that. Boo!!However, a creative caterer
Solidarity. Empathy. Patience.
So many in the hospitality sector have needed a helping hand - they couldn’t stand up without depending on others in a whole host of different ways. Everyone will have their own story about contracts being re-worked, suppliers being understanding, customers being prepared to adapt. ‘Self sufficiency’ was not part of this story - solidarity, empathy and patience were the foundations for pushing through the challenges.
5 Alive and Kicking
Let's think about the current lay of the land. Here are the 5 things forward thinking Food Providers are finding as they seek to keep their operations alive and kicking.
Don't look back in Anger - we could go over all the issues, hassles, false starts and misery of 2020 but we need to lift our heads and see what's possible. Spoonfed has strengthened its team in order to do just that. We are delighted to welcome John to the team.
No Mr Bond, I expect you to dine
Full marks if you noticed that this blog title was (almost) taken from the 1964 Bond movie, ‘Goldfinger’. I once visited a movie company whose catering manager promotes new menu items to celebrate
Diary of a Post-Furlougher
7.45am Life used to be simpler. Wallet – check. Mobile – check. Keys… ‘Who’s moved my ke.. got them - Bye!’. But not any longer. Now, I’ve got to remember ‘Mask’. That’s a 25% increase (or is it a 33.3%...never sure) in the list of things to get right in order to get my working day up and running. And getting back after being on furlough is hard enough. It’s a shock to the system y’know.
Are you Choosy?
Are you choosy?Maybe it depends on what we mean by ‘Choosy’? Are we talking just being sophisticatedly selective or are you just downright ‘persnickety’? (Apologies for the language).It’s not your
Daily Bread Delivered with a bit of help from Spoonfed!
Adapting post Covid-19 with SpoonfedPettigrew Bakeries is a new and truly independent bakery in the beautiful Victoria Park area of Cardiff. Their iconic shop front was known by locals for 83 years as
One way caterers can prepare for the UK's new immigration laws
The UK government has announced that so called “low-skilled” workers will not get visas from 2021 onwards, under post-Brexit immigration plans. Waiting tables and certain hospitality-related jobs will fall short of the ‘points-based’ requirements for skill level, so the industry can expect staff shortages
Shortlisted for a PEA and recent wins
We got some exciting news recently from The Caterer that Spoonfed has been shortlisted for a Product Excellence Award (PEA) in the technology category. The PEAs recognise excellence and innovation in food, drink and equipment products within the hospitality sector
Delivery rescues the dining sector
Recent UK dining industry data collected by Cardlytics has shown that spend on delivery rose by 19% in 2018, when the overall industry saw just a 3% increase. A close look at the figures reveals just how powerful food delivery can be
The Huge Impact of Data in Catering
A colleague has pointed out a mistake in the article I have had published in Sandwich & Food To Go News this month. In the third paragraph, concerning Brexit, I wrongly predicted that by the time the magazine was printed and sent out, some kind of progress would have been made
Spoonfed customers averaged 27% revenue growth in 2018
On average, caterers using Spoonfed in 2017 and 2018 saw their revenues grow by 27% last year. Another excellent 12 months of helping caterers scale their business and handle more orders with less
Keeping a calm kitchen through the political storm
The UK is split almost down the middle right now when it comes to Brexit. About half of us are watching in stunned silence as the mess continues to spread, while the other half are fed up with the whole thing
How caterers avoid waste by giving customers what they want
Food waste statistics never fail to amaze. Around one in every six meals ordered away from home is thrown away in the UK. The average person in the US generates about four pounds of waste every day.
Spoonfed users growing by 20% per annum
In the first half of 2018 average hospitality revenues for Spoonfed customers were 20% higher than in same period of 2017. Yet more evidence of the powerful impact that Spoonfed’s catering management system can have on corporate catering sales
Allergens and special requests - catering to the individual
Whether it’s as part of the latest dietary fad or the doctor’s orders, the number of people looking to avoid certain ingredients in their work lunch continues to rise rapidly. More than 50 million people in the US suffer from at least one food allergy
Social Enterprises and Spoonfed - the system for sustainable catering growth
Social Enterprises across the world are using Spoonfed software to manage corporate catering services and increase their revenues, helping them give more to good causes while employing people in need
2018 Catering challenges and the best way to meet them
Rising food costs, high business rates and wage increases are among the many threats to caterers in 2018. With economic and industry challenges piling up in 2018, it’s a good time to look at what caterers can do to not only survive, but thrive
Your app needs updating - Could the future be mobile websites?
A recent article on QSR magazine’s website weighed up apps against mobile websites and found in favour of apps. At Spoonfed we have put a lot of thought into the pros and cons of each option
Spoonfed caterers saw a 54% increase in their web order values in 2017
Caterers using Spoonfed to take orders online saw a huge 54% increase in revenues from online ordering in November 2017 compared to the previous year. If you’re still looking for a New Year’s resolution
Hard times ahead in catering
As we near the year’s end, unwelcome predictions about the state of the catering industry in 2018 make this a great time to ask... could your business be more efficient
Allergens - it’s time to get a good reaction from your customers
Allergens are becoming an increasingly important part of catering. Being able to show clearly which menus contain certain ingredients, and to guarantee that they won’t sneak into an order
Top 3 Tips for Independent Restaurants
It’s day one of Restaurant Tech Live, where we are exhibiting Spoonfed and seeing the latest ideas that will be shaping the future of the restaurant industry. Today, our co-founder and MD Willie Biggart spoke at RTL
Wake up to the revenues you’re missing
Britain’s coffee chains and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are eating into each other’s primary revenue streams, looking to reduce downtime while increasing profits. As the market for meeting room food grows
Spoonfeeder becomes a dad!
A quick update to say that I am a dad! My baby boy was born one month ago and mum, dad and baby Pete are all well. Well, mum and dad are pretty tired, and in our dozy confusion over the last few
Vivatech - Back to the Future
If you follow us on Twitter you might have seen that we recently went to Vivatech, the technology exhibition in Paris. It’s a great event that brings together innovative companies of all sorts
Catering with technology and competing for customers
There are a lot of unknowns right now in the catering industry. Economically and politically it’s hard to predict what the rest of 2017 will have in store, but a recent report from the British Hospitality Association sheds some light on the state of the industry
B2B and Faster Food
Standing in line at McDonalds last week, I was struck by how quickly things have changed in the QSR industry in a short time. McDonalds now offers table service for smartphone orders; large, touchscreen ordering screens; and they accept job applications by Snapchat
Cloud Technology Transforming Businesses
Daniel Newman of Broadsuite Media Group poses the question, “Is it time to stop talking about cloud technology and start talking cloud business?” He went further, “What are the problems that can be solved by the cloud? What’s the bottom-line impact
Spoonfed Double Nominee At This Year's Scottish Business Awards
On Friday we received some superb news; we have been nominated for two awards at the Scottish Business Awards, with this year’s event being hosted by none other than George Clooney!Spoonfed has been
The Rise and Rise of Vegetarian Restaurants
With the announcement that sandwich chain Pret A Manger is to open a pop-up vegetarian only restaurant in Soho next month, it has to be asked what will wash in next on the tide of vegetarian restaurants
Zalmi Duchman Article Shows Catering Tech Takeover
In a recent article for Forbes magazine, food and tech reporter Zalmi Duchman has shown us how in the world of corporate lunches, online ordering is overtaking the more traditional phone order