One of the real features of the contract catering sector is that it has traditionally been a great environment for entrepreneurs to flourish. New start-up companies have always been a feature of the industry and with them comes an agility and energy that clients love. Consequently clients become advocates for these new kids on the block, and they are delighted to become a big fish in a small pond.
So why is it that we don’t see anything like the number of start ups that we used to? We can’t have run out of entrepreneurs, certainly within bartlett mitchell we have some amazing entrepreneurs who, because of our reward and recognition of their endeavours, come up with initiatives and sales levels which show they treat the business as if it were their own.
In 2008 a global recession hit and no corner of the world was left unaffected in spite of the fact that, recession or no recession, people will always need to eat. Some of the most senior people within organisations were grabbing the opportunity to close their catering service knowing there would be little or no backlash as people were generally keeping their heads below the parapet. Several years on and it’s a powerful argument for caterers, that many of those clients who closed their catering are or have re-opened, albeit in a different format because for some it was the place where marketing met finance, who met facilities and so on.
I have noticed, in the last few years that the number of clients who are reviewing their catering contracts are including investment as an essential requirement of the contract. It seems to have become the rule rather than the exception. Of course this has implications for new start-ups. If a preferred caterer needs to have the wherewithal to invest then it’s going to be very difficult for any new catering company to get off the ground. Maybe it is just a sign of the times, that’s how things are, but there are bound to be implications further down the line for our sector of the market. As usual there is never a dull moment in contract catering. That’s why we all love it so.