I’ve not blogged much about contract foodservice, but an article in July‘s EP Magazine (page 29) caught my eye. Adrian Evans, Sodexo’s Transformation Director, is talking about how market research is applied to workplace restaurants. This highlights one of the key issues relating to this kind of outsourcing, namely that the client is the organisation who has contracted with the foodservice provider, but the customers are the employees of that organisation. Hence these two different stakeholders may have different order winners. For instance, the principal OW for the client may be cost, but the customers may be more concerned with quality.
Now contract foodservice operators have long recognised this challenge and they have become highly skilled at providing high quality meals at reasonable cost. In effect quality and cost have become order qualifiers. What emerges from the Evans article is that speed and flexibility have become the new OWs. Of course, he does not use this terminology, instead he talks about food trends and restaurant design, but speed and flexibility underlie the specific developments his operations are undertaking.
With regards food, customers have an expectation that the food offer in their restaurant and cafeteria will keep up with the latest eating trends – in terms of healthy foodstuffs, ethic styles of cooking, and the diversity of tastes. This means that Sodexo and their competitors have to ensure the speed of their new product development (page 40 of our book). With regards the design of restaurants, the client no longer wants this space to be used a few hours day during meal times, but to maximise its utilisation throughout the day. They also want the space to encourage interaction between employees in order to support the organisation’s culture and informal networking that helps the organisation to function effectively. Hence, the restaurant has to be designed with flexibility in mind.