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Contract Catering Reviews – Restaurant Associates, Elior, CH&Co, Baxter Storey

10 tips when choosing a corporate contract caterer

Choosing a contract caterer can be a tricky business, especially now, when there is so much choice. Gone are the days where “the big three” were soaking up all London’s corporate catering contracts. New vibrant privately owned companies have opened, run by creative foodies – which promise to deliver a more tailor-made solution to your hungry staff and clients.

Other factors have now become an important global issue like waste management and sustainability, so how do you choose which ones to invite to tender?

We asked 50 front of house managers before our Autumn 2018 FOH Managers Forum Event to give their opinions on whether they were happy with their current contract caterer. There were many who were more than satisfied, who only had the best things to say about the service they were being offered, however there were a good number who were either changing or considering their options

Interestingly sometimes the same company were doing well with one law firm, where at another they were failing miserably. This leaves you to conclude that either the staff of the failing contract were under-performing, the contract was being badly managed, or the FOH Manager was simply more forgiving.

One of the important points raised was how you keep your Chef happy when you’re asking him to make plates of sandwiches so often. A regular change in menu can help, however this was also something which varied greatly from site to site. Some caterers seemed happy to keep the same menu for a year, others six months, however some contract caterers were creating whole new menus each month.

Getting an idea of how adaptable the caterers are to your culture and how flexible they are with change, may also help you. Are they proactive or reactive and do the senior team stay involved or do they disappear once the contract has been signed?

Things to remember when choosing a contract caterer:

  1. Value for money
  2. Sustainability
  3. How hands-on are senior management – how often do you have meetings to resolve issues
  4. Proactive or reactive and how creative they seem.
  5. How often do they update their menus
  6. What other clients in the same sector do they have? Can you visit one of these sites?
  7. Check google for glassdoor reviews – if their own staff are unhappy – will there be an issue with continuity?
  8. Don’t be too concerned by awards they may have been given by catering magazines
  9. Their resources – recruitment and training of their staff
  10. What makes them different

There are plenty of choices, one of the best ways to decide is to speak to other FOH Managers or Facilities Managers who have first hand experience.  It’s important to make sure they also get on well with the current reception team – or the blame-game can begin. Below we have put a good choice of companies that our clients regularly use.

If you need any further information, guidance or independent advice (or corporate polished receptionists either temporary or permanent, then please contact our receptionist agency

Bennett Hay
Bartlet Mitchell

Elior

Lusso (CH&CO)
Searcys
Baxter Storey
Restaurant Associates
Lexington
Harbour and Jones