How to appoint a Contract Caterer

We are regularly asked the question by procurement experts and facilities managers, ‘How to appoint a contract caterer? This is one of the reasons we have created our expert guides on a wide range of contract catering subjects.

Given the emotive nature of food within organisations, Simon Houston has written about the importance of finding a  ‘best fit’ catering partner. Simon also wrote about the importance of building a clear set of objectives for your catering and outlining the long-term goals of the catering service. This is usually very specific to the organisation and may include wellbeing, staff benefits, reducing costs, creating a vibrant exciting place to do business – only you will know. Based on this, we increasingly find a simple catering strategy or catering policy can really streamline and support the selection of a catering partner.

Different approaches to how to appoint a Contract Caterer

Subject to your organisational requirements, you have a number of choices or approaches to how to appoint a contract caterer, four of which are listed below:

  1. Go through a traditional tender process, either with your inhouse procurement or consultant support. Read our expert guides.
  2. If you have an outsourced Total Facilities Management (TFM) provider, they will tender via their preferred suppliers. Clients can also nominate potential partners too
  3. Undertake a local market benchmarking exercise with submitted proposals. We are seeing a resurgence of requests for outline proposals for catering solutions. This is particularly when clients are looking for something different and don’t wish to have a lengthy tender process. This often becomes a competitive dialogue process, with fewer potential suppliers which allows the client get to ‘best fit’ more quickly
  4. Public sector tenders via Crown Commercial Service frameworks or OJEU process

Regardless of which approach you choose, the purpose of selecting a contract caterer remains the same to find a ‘best fit’ partner, who can deliver your long-term catering aspirations.

I personally look at our supply partner’s credentials to check they share the same ethos, values and behaviours as us. It is important to take references from their other clients, to visit their operations and look for a track record in both service quality and financial performance.

FOODIE values

Ultimately you will want your caterer to have FOODIES values; with fresh, seasonal, local sustainable produce and avoiding processed, frozen or packet food at all costs. Only food that is passionately crafted by skilled chefs and served by enthusiastic front of house teams will power your teams.

If you would like to find out how we can power your business, please get in touch.

If you are looking for further guidance please read our expert guides

How to tender a catering contract

How to develop a contract catering strategy

Understanding catering contracts