6 factors to consider when choosing good food service consultants.

Finding the right food service consultant for your organisation is crucial. And as you might expect, they should be experienced in the food service industry. There are factors you may like to consider when choosing a good food service consultancy and we've suggested some here that could help you make the next step.

1. Consider how long they have been in the food services industry and therefore how much experience they can they bring to the table (pardon the pun)

2. It would be helpful, although not crucial, for the food service consultants to have experience working in your business sector; for example, public sector, education, Business & Industry, etc. Have they worked in your business sector before and do they have case studies that you can read? These will help you understand how much experience they have and hopefully what success they have had for that organisation too. Another factor, again still related to experience, would be prior knowledge of procurement processes for a sector, i.e. the MOD. This would be a time saver for the food service consultant (and therefore save you money in fees) if you are in Government defence departments looking for help to streamline your procurement practices.

3. Do they have their own work processes? i.e. If you have in-house catering or out-sourced catering, both of which are a multi-faceted discipline which can be complex to unravel, identify and measure performance. A good food service consultant would first review your financial, qualitative and labour performance then create an effective development plan based on those findings. For example:

  • Financial performance should be benchmarked against sector and industry standards
  • Qualitative results should be viewed from external and internal perspectives
  • Resource use, for example labour, modelling and energy use should also be measured

Another example would be for housekeeping and laundry services to be assessed for cleaning efficiency and infection controls as well as checking if staffing hours are correct and delivering value.

4. Looking at the education sector, for example, a food service consultant would be able to identify where savings and improvements can be made to ensure the school has in place good pastoral care by looking at the following areas:

  • Improving food for pupils and teaching staff
  • Reviewing current catering and making suggestions for improvement
  • Tendering on your behalf for catering food services
  • Performance management and appraisals of your catering staff
  • Developing menus
  • Designing new kitchens or re-organising existing kitchens
  • Education on reduction of food waste

5.  Good negotiation skills are essential. Whether your catering is in-house or outsourced. A food consultant will help you decide if you should operate your own catering or employ the services of contract caterers. It’s a multi-faceted and complicated decision however your food service consultant can guide you through the advantages and disadvantages this choice represents to your organisation. Experienced contract negotiators are vital if you decide to opt for outsourced catering in order for  you to get the very best value contract caterers suited to your requirements. The same also applies if you opt for in-house caterers as you will still need to negotiate deals with food suppliers.

6. Tender management and contracting is a specialist area. A food service consultant with experience in tendering and creating contracts is vital, if this is an area that you need, due to the legal pitfalls that are present. The consultants should provide their expertise throughout the tender process and liaise with legal experts on your behalf to ensure all your contracts are watertight and therefore preserve the performance of the supplier throughout the life of the contract.