Category: Food for Thought

21- Aug2023

Help! We Need More Staff!

The food service industry has faced staffing challenges in the aftermath of COVID-19. Are you and your food service partner doing everything possible to create an attractive work environment? It is important that you strategize with your operator to develop mutually agreed upon expectations. This is especially important if a management fee structure is in place.

Here are some strategies that should be considered to help overcome the current staffing challenges:

  1. Competitive Wages and Benefits: Offer competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain talented staff. Conduct market research to ensure your compensation packages are in line with industry standards.
  2. Flexible Scheduling: Implement flexible scheduling options to accommodate employees’ needs and preferences. Consider offering part-time, full-time, or seasonal positions to attract a wider pool of candidates. Utilize scheduling software to streamline the process and allow employees to set their availability preferences.
  3. Employee Recognition and Incentives: Recognize and appreciate your staff’s hard work and dedication. Implement programs such as “Employee of the Month” awards or performance-based bonuses. Offer incentives for referrals to encourage current employees to refer potential candidates.
  4. Training and Development Opportunities: Invest in training and development programs to upskill your existing staff and provide them with opportunities for growth. This can include culinary training, customer service workshops, leadership development, or cross-training in different roles. Showing a commitment to employee growth and advancement can improve retention rates.
  5. Streamlined Recruitment Processes: Simplify and expedite your recruitment processes to attract and hire candidates more efficiently. Use online job portals, social media platforms, and industry-specific websites to advertise job openings. Optimize your application process, making it user-friendly and accessible via mobile devices.
  6. Collaboration with Culinary Schools or Training Programs: Forge partnerships with culinary schools or local training programs to tap into a pool of aspiring chefs, cooks, or hospitality professionals. Offer internships, apprenticeships, or mentorship programs to provide hands-on experience and potential career paths.
  7. Work-Life Balance Initiatives: Emphasize initiatives to promote employee well-being. Implement policies such as flexible work schedules, family-friendly benefits, or wellness programs. Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment can help attract and retain staff.
  8. Employee Feedback and Communication: Establish open lines of communication with your staff and actively seek their input. Conduct regular staff meetings or surveys to gather feedback on work conditions, policies, and potential improvements. Engaging employees in decision-making processes can foster a sense of ownership and increase job satisfaction.
  9. Positive Work Environment: Cultivate a work environment that values teamwork, respect, and open communication. Encourage a supportive culture where employees feel appreciated and empowered. Regularly recognize and celebrate achievements to boost morale.
  10. Automation and Technology: Embrace technology and automation to streamline processes and reduce staffing needs where appropriate. Implement self-ordering kiosks, mobile ordering apps, or online reservation systems to optimize operations and improve efficiency.

Remember, overcoming staffing challenges requires a multi-faceted approach that focuses on attracting, retaining, and developing talent. By offering competitive compensation, flexible scheduling, training opportunities, and a positive work environment, you can position your food service establishment as an attractive employer and overcome staffing challenges in the post-COVID era.


21- Aug2023

Contract Management for Food Service and Retail – Top 10 Benefits!

Generating earned income via restaurants/cafés, retail shops and private event rentals is sometimes operationally and financially challenging, but these activities provide an opportunity to further connect with guests and reinforce the message of the mission. If managed properly, offering amenity services such as a café and gift shop can be profitable, increase length of stay and enhance the visitor experience. Having an event rental program has the potential to provide a significant source of earned income and can also introduce new audiences to the organization.

There are two options for managing on-site food service and retail merchandise operations:

  • Self-Operation: Managing and handling tasks, projects, or processes internally within an organization, without involving external parties.
  • Contract Management: Overseeing agreements, negotiations, and obligations with external parties through contracts.

If your food service and/or retail program is currently self-operated and you have wondered about making the change to contract management, we have developed a list of 10 things to consider:

  1. Staffing – The post-pandemic staffing crisis is real. Taking the time needed to recruit and find experienced staff can be an overwhelming task. When outsourcing food and retail operations, this task becomes the operator’s responsibility. Many seasoned operators have departments dedicated to training and recruiting, ensuring their company always has staff on hand to serve their client base. In some cases, they even have other local accounts that allow them to have a larger, in-house staffing pool. In the case of a zoo or aquarium that self-operates, this responsibility falls directly with the organization.
  2. Cost Reduction – Managing all retail operations and food and beverage services is a costly endeavor. The overhead for covering salaries, benefits, product costs, equipment, repair and replacement, marketing, etc., can be astronomical for self-operated programs. Moving to a contracted operation will remove most of these costs from the organization’s budget and push them over to their operator.
  3. Investment – In a self-operated scenario, any improvements to the facility are the responsibility of the organization. In a contract management relationship, it is typical that with a long-term contract (7-10 years) an operator will invest in a venue to help ensure its success. These investments are usually amortized on a straight-line basis over the term of the contract and subject to buy back protection. It is important to remember that the more categories offered (exclusive catering rights, café operation and retail merchandise), the greater the chance of a larger investment.
  4. Lower Risk – Contract management offers zoos and aquariums the option to provide all of these services without assuming 100% of the risk. Operators who provide managed services are for-profit entities that are dedicated to finding the right balance between running a profitable operation and staying true to the organization.
  5. Depth of Resources – Most large operators have multiple locations and valuable experience regarding best practices pertaining to all facets of the business. Whether it be equipment, staffing, training, technology, wayfinding, communications, inventory monitoring or visual merchandising, working with an entity whose core competency is managing food service and/or retail will ultimately be a benefit.
  6. Sustainability/Food Waste – This is a mission-critical issue. It is imperative that zoos and aquariums have the most up to date information and equipment designed to reduce waste and ensure sustainable practices. Within the food service industry, this has become standard across the board. Self-operated institutions might not have access to what is being done across the country to support these initiatives.
  7. Marketing Power – Operators can provide marketing support to a zoo or aquarium to help promote special events, the café and the gift shop. This takes the responsibility from the organization’s in-house teams and makes it a shared task.
  8. Growth Opportunity for Employees/Job Security – From an employee’s perspective, having the chance to work for a large food service or retail management company means that they have the ability to receive training and move up within the company. In a self-operated model, there isn’t always room for growth and development without leaving the institution.
  9. Time – Working with a contractor should reduce the amount of time needed for the zoo or aquarium staff to be involved with the day-to-day operations of the gift shop or café.
  10. Experience – This is key! Working with a company that has experience in managed services for food service and retail (not necessarily in zoo or aquarium only) and working within a mission-based organization is hugely beneficial. Afterall, this is their core-competency! From budgeting, to projections, to cost analysis and daily operations, having a partner who is seasoned will allow the programs to grow and flourish. Many self-operated programs get stuck in the weeds managing the challenges of day-to-day activities (such as staffing or equipment issues) and cannot be proactive in developing plans. Your staff can stay focused on enhancing the zoo or aquarium experience and your operator can manage the food service or retail business.

JGL helps zoos and aquariums across the country assess whether self-operation or contract management is the best structure for them. Every organization is different and has a unique set of goals and priorities. JGL takes a wholistic approach when guiding an organization through making this decision; it has the potential to impact the staff, institutional finances, and the future direction of the organization.

Reach out to JGL for more information about how we can help your zoo or aquarium maximize earned income opportunities!

21- Aug2023
Posted By: Connor Leahy

Best Features for Your Campus Dining Program

Despite every college & university having its own unique student body, we seem to hear some common themes pertaining to food service operations when we talk to students across the country. Fortunately, JGL has worked with clients throughout the nation and has seen a variety of potential solutions! Here are just a few of the most common items on students’ wish lists and a couple of solutions to consider implementing in your dining program.

  1. There aren’t any late-night dining options

This is one of the most persistent complaints that we hear from students. While regular operating hours can accommodate 95% of student dining needs, there are always individuals looking for a bite to eat after practice or a late-night class gets out. With many schools closing their dining halls prior to the last class block, this leaves students without options. Some in our industry subscribe to the 24/7 dining hall model in an effort to address this problem, but we don’t see this as an efficient solution for all. A much more cost-effective alternative is the introduction of C-Stores in residential halls or other nearby buildings that are accessible late at night. C-Stores can accommodate anyone looking for a quick snack or drink late at night (which encompasses the vast majority of late-night needs) but can also offer complete pre-packaged meals when the dining hall is closed. They’re also very inexpensive to operate as they don’t require full-time staff. Some food service operators have even begun introducing Amazon Go frictionless stores which can be integrated with student meal plans or dining dollars. Preliminary results have shown that these are widely appreciated by students and haven’t resulted in a noticeable increase in theft which some initially suspected.

  1. There aren’t any options for individuals with religious dietary restrictions.

With an ever-increasing awareness surrounding inclusivity on campus, colleges and universities have made remarkable strides in accommodating individuals with a variety of needs. Dining is an important part of the conversation surrounding inclusivity. Unfortunately, dining options for students with religious restrictions remains a very common shortfall. Depending on your institution’s budget, there are several options to help increase offerings. The least costly option is for your institution or food service provider to contract with local kosher or halal providers. They can provide pre-packaged items on a daily basis to act as a stopgap prior to a more permanent solution. If your population is large enough however, you may want to consider creating dedicated halal/kosher concepts; JGL has worked with several higher-education colleges & universities who have created kosher and halal stations and even entire dining halls for their students. Regardless of your approach, communication with students is just as important, if not more, than creating the offerings themselves. When we meet with students, we inevitably hear that they lack confidence or certainty that what’s being offered is meeting their religious dietary needs. A transparent and vocal program that proactively shares exactly what is being offered is the true key to success here.

  1. There isn’t enough variety in dining options.

Regardless of how many locations and concepts your dining halls may have, students will inevitably become tired of the same cycle menus employed by most food service operators over the course of a semester. Many operators are quite competent at bringing variety to core menus, but very few have the culinary strength and procurement framework to execute truly diverse, authentic culinary cuisines. The same reason that many colleges outsource their food services (not a core competency) is the same reason that these food service operators should look to outsource authentic menu options. One approach might be to dedicate a dining hall station to local 3rd party restaurant partners. The more comprehensive (but challenging) approach is to integrate local restaurants directly into your board plans. This can be a complicated and drawn- out undertaking involving negotiations with potential partners, reviewing meal plan costs to determine profitability, reviewing food safety/HACCP plans, and integrating partner IT frameworks with software used by your food service provider. Despite these added complications, integrating partners into your board plans is a concrete way to encourage the student body’s involvement with the local community and provides options that simply wouldn’t be possible with a just a contract food service operator.

Food service operations are a critical part of the recruitment effort and student experience for any college or university. The food service program has the power to signal an institution’s commitment to sustainability, equity and inclusion, food insecurity and nutrition. Are you listening to the voices on your campus? JGL can help ensure that you are responding in an effective way!

15- Jun2023
Posted By: Tracy Lawler

Top Ten Tips for a Successful Campus Dining Food Service RFP Process

As a consultancy that manages 25 plus RFP processes a year, we have a list of practices that we know will support a successful process (as well as some that will derail a process). We have seen many client- developed RFPs over the years and frequently find these documents are missing important information or contain onerous terms that may reduce vendor participation.

Our top 10 tips for a campus dining RFP are listed below:

  1. Allow ample time. Most college or university food service contracts expire in June or July. We recommend the process commence a minimum of one year in advance.
  2. The prep work or what we coin the “pre-RFP phase” is critically important. If this phase is not completed, the RFP may not be successful. The pre-RFP phase should identify student, faculty and staff needs with respect to the program (i.e., greater variety, new technology, more plant forward offerings, Halal or Kosher options, extended hours, additional outlets).
  3. The pre-RFP phase should also clarify institutional goals such as social justice efforts, sustainability pillars, diversity in the work force, and the like.
  4. Identify expectations regarding financial terms including the type of structure (P&L or management fee), capital expenditure requirements, and KPI’s risk/reward.
  5. The more data the RFP includes the better. Sales and transaction counts by location, check averages, existing menus and pricing, board plan rates and counts, missed meals, hours of operation, number of operating days, and other existing metrics should be shared. This will ensure the participating vendors have a solid understanding of the existing operations.
  6. Require vendors to provide pro forma supporting assumptions. You must, as an example, understand the missed meal factor used to model projections to truly understand their financial pro forma. Similarly, you need their headcount and staffing assumptions to accurately compare on an apples-to-apples basis.
  7. Give at least six – eight weeks for proposal development – particularly if capital expenditure is required.
  8. Do not simply send the RFP to an email address and assume it has been received. Take the time to have a quick dialogue in advance with each of the firms the RFP is sent to.
  9. Calendar all key dates well ahead of time and share them with the committee and all vendors. This helps to avoid last-minute scrambles. Make sure your internal committee remains the same throughout so that everyone is equipped with the same knowledge when its time to make contract award.
  10. Involve students and aim for as much transparency as possible.

Following the above steps will enable an organized and successful RFP process for campus dining.

04- May2023
Posted By: Hollie Altman

From Client to Consultant – Hollie’s Experience Joining the JGL Team

It is hard to believe that it’s been two years since I joined JGL!

It was February 2021, less than a year after the pandemic turned the world upside down. I had been laid off from a museum job I loved here in Miami (a former client of JGL), was assembling 30,000 emergency meals a day with my former employer’s catering partner and making mango pies to sell on the side! My kid finished kindergarten on the computer, and I sent her off to summer camp in a mask. It was literally “wicky-wacky land!”

When my now-boss Tracy Lawler posted on LinkedIn that JGL was looking for support, I thought to myself, “Hey, I would be perfect for that!” And now, two years later, here I am!

It has been a wild ride since then. After almost 15 years of running event departments in two different major Miami cultural institutions, it felt like I was starting from zero. For many years, my life involved sitting at a computer in short stints between doing laps around huge campuses, interacting with gobs of colleagues and clients, and being behind the scenes at hundreds of events. Now, I was at my home office, mostly alone (with my dog, Mei Mei) analyzing, writing, thinking, analyzing and thinking some more. It is very different, but I love what I do. I am able to blend my love for the cultural world with events, food & beverage and impart my knowledge and experience for the benefit of organizations and communities.

View from my desk: Mei Mei watching me

During the height of the pandemic, I not only had to learn a new job (like many others), but a whole new way of being.

And then the restrictions began to lift, and I went on the road… Pittsburg, Longmont, Denver, Sarasota, Ft. Meyers, Palm Beach, San Diego, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Phoenix, not to mention several clients here in Miami! I have seen some of the country’s most important landmarks, and met with some amazing, inspiring leaders. I love supporting our clients and helping these incredible organizations achieve their operational goals. In my own small way, I am making a difference!  The work we do has the power to impact the community; whether it be encouraging local sourcing, adding jobs, or celebrating cultural diversity – my work makes me feel so proud!

My daughter says she wants to do what I do when she grows up – visit museums and taste food. She’s one smart cookie!

22- Mar2023
Posted By: Connor Leahy

Help! Our Dining Provider Can’t Turn a Profit!

One of the most common issues we’ve seen in the post-COVID higher-education field is a sudden lack of profitability for food service Operators. This is not surprising with fewer students opting to reside on campus and continuing supply chain issues; but understanding the new realities of higher-education food service doesn’t make it any easier to stomach the never-ending subsidy statements from your food service Operator. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many Operators struggle and fail to find a solution to this problem. Thus, it’s up to you, institutional leadership, to find creative ways out of the red. Here are five potential solutions that you might implement to move your dining services back towards profitability.

  1. Consolidate as Many Services as Possible

Consolidating all food services (dining, catering, vending) is the most straightforward solution possible for institutions looking to decrease their subsidy. Economies of scale come into play here; the more services (and thus, revenues) that fall under an Operator’s purview, the easier it will be to maintain profitability. If your institution currently contracts its food-related services out to different Operators, consider consolidation.

  1. Mandate Meal Plans for Non-Residential and Commuter Students

The loss of residential students on meal plans has been the biggest hit on revenue generation for higher-education dining. A guaranteed source of income makes planning for upcoming semesters easier. Operators can aim to keep costs below meal plan sales, and greater meal plan sales provide leeway in incurring costs. Consider introducing a modest declining balance meal requirement for non-residential students. A modest $200/semester plan for 500 commuter students could add $200K in guaranteed revenues to offset an Operator’s costs. Mandated plans also have the benefit of encouraging non-residential students to stay on campus longer and integrate with the larger residential community.

  1. Market Event Spaces to Third-Party Clients

Many higher-education institutions have beautiful but underutilized event spaces that are only available to student groups, alumni, and institutional leadership. While allowing third parties to host events on your campus does complicate event booking and security policies, it can also be a great source of revenue. Not only does this result in incremental catering revenue (as a rule of thumb, catering is much more profitable than dining), it also results in event rental revenue direct to the institution. Many third-party corporate and social clientele are willing to pay a premium for use of a ‘non-traditional’ event space. These event rental fees could go directly towards offsetting an Operator’s potential subsidy in the dining operation. In highly populated metro areas where space is at a premium, minimal marketing efforts can effectively fill an event calendar and guarantee additional revenue.

  1. Develop Off-Premise Catering Relationships

If your institution is unwilling or not able to host third-party events on campus, another potential solution might be to bring your catering department to the third party. Under this scenario, a food service Operator would utilize the institution’s kitchen to prep catered meals for off-site client events. This can be a great solution for institutions in metro areas with numerous office parks nearby. To offset any increased wear and tear on kitchen equipment, look at implementing a percentage of sales maintenance/repair/replacement charge-back to the Operator. If successful, some institutions may even be able to negotiate a percentage of off-site catering sales commission to further offset any potential subsidy in the dining operation.

  1. Look at Developing a “Master RFP” with Other Institutions

This should be an institution’s last resort in the quest for profitability. While this solution frequently results in big savings, it also reduces control over your dining services. This approach effectively maximizes the consolidation of food services on campus by combining your institution’s food services with multiple other higher-education institutions. This can be particularly advantageous for higher-education accounts with smaller residential populations; three Universities with a combined 6,000 student population are much more attractive to an Operator than a single university with a population of 2,000. This ensures greater revenue for an Operator and also results in reduced costs through sharing of labor and a common supply chain. If you have developed close relationships with nearby peer institutions who are in a similar predicament, this may be a great solution.

A word of warning for these and any other potential solutions; make sure to do your homework! Share your thoughts with your food service Operator and ask them to run detailed projections for any proposed changes to your dining services. While these solutions can be very helpful in certain scenarios, they can also have negligible results in others. Creating a dedicated event rental site for your institution, for example, might cost more than the incremental revenue generated from event sales if your institution is located in an area with limited venue demand. Regardless of your initial proclivity towards any solution, work with your Operator to determine the best approach towards profitability.

JGL is always happy to expand our network, have informal conversations, and share industry insights. Contact us to chat about your operation!

09- Mar2023

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Food Service and Retail Programs

The JGL team works with organizations across the U.S. and Canada. Our goal is to help our clients reach maximum success with their amenity food service programs, retail merchandise outlets, and catering operations. We have compiled a list of the questions we are asked most frequently by clients who are charged with building these types of programs.

  1. Is there a minimum attendance level required for an organization to have a café or retail location?

We believe that offering food service and retail merchandise has the ability to enhance the visitor experience, deepen ties to the institution, and increase the length of stay. Smaller institutions can consider a simple kiosk or mobile cart that is weekend or seasonally programmed for both food service and retail merchandise operations.

  1. What are the metrics we should track for our store?

Capture rate, check average, sales per square foot and top seller by units and volume are important measures.

  1. Can our institution still have a café even if we do not have a full cooking kitchen on the premises?

Many café operations are supplied from outside kitchens (called commissaries). This allows the organizations to preserve valuable space for programmatic initiatives and generally negates the need for a hood and fire suppression system onsite.

  1. Where is the best location for a café?

The best location is one the visitor sees upon entry to the venue, ideally near the gift shop! This may not be possible in many facilities. If the café is not highly visible, be sure to have good directional signage within the building and feature it prominently on the website, maps, and collateral material.

  1. We know our café will not be profitable, but we cannot afford to subsidize it. Are there other options?

Catering and retail operations are much more profitable than café operations. Consider a short, preferred caterer list, an exclusive caterer, bundling the liquor rights with the catering operation, including retail, or guaranteeing a certain volume of internal catering. The more revenues opportunities an Operator can capture, the more likely they are to support an amenity café.

  1. Will a “destination restaurant” generate sizable profits and be a draw to the institution?

The number of financially successful, true “destination restaurants” within a cultural environment are few and far between. Many more fail than succeed. A destination restaurant requires a separate outside entrance, heavy street traffic, and full control over hours, menu, and price points. It also helps to be in an area where there are other successful restaurants. Tread carefully here because the failure of a destination restaurant within an institution will be considered a failure of the organization.

  1. What is the optimal contract length?

It depends upon the start-up cost, the volume of sales activity, and whether there is an investment requirement. A contract with no investment (for food service) might be as short as 3 years. The average in our practice (for food service and retail) is 5-7 years. A contract with significant investment might be 10 years plus.

  1. Should an online store be part of the retail concession contract?

YES!  There should also be a commitment and focus from the Concessionaire to operate the online store effectively and not as an afterthought.

  1. Is an exclusive relationship or a preferred caterers list the better choice?

It depends upon the norms in your market and the goals of the food service program. We do not generally advise developing an exclusive relationship if the rest of the market has preferred lists because that will create a negative differentiation. Below is a chart that highlights the commonly accepted advantages and disadvantages of each:

Measure Preferred List Exclusive
Client Choice High Low
Varied Price Points Likely Less Likely
Café Development Unlikely Likely
Commission Return Lower Higher
Investment Potential Little or None Higher
Facility Caretaking Depends Upon Caterer Better
Marketing Assistance Will Feature on Website Will Commit Money
Sales Assistance Unlikely Likely
Preferred Internal Pricing Limited Definitely
  1. What is the average percentage or fee paid to venues by their caterers?

For catering, the starting commission nationwide is 10% on food and beverage; the current average is 13%. Commission terms are based on sales volume. Sometimes an Operator will present a sliding scale that will include increased commissions (well above the national average) once catering sales pass a specific threshold. Catering commission may be reduced if there is a requirement to run a visitor food operation, a significant investment, or a short-term contract.

  1. What is the average commission paid to cultural institutions by retail operators?

The commission varies depending on sales volume. We have seen as low as 15% and as high as 36%.

For more information about any of the topics addressed above, please contact JGL Consultants for a complimentary consultation!

09- Mar2023

JGL Gives Back: The Princeton University Art Museum

JGL is excited to award the Princeton University Art Museum a $3,000 gift in honor of our founder, James G. Lawler. This first gift is significant for the following reasons:

  1. Jim was a class of ’58 graduate from Princeton University.
  2. Jim and his wife Barbara made Princeton, NJ their home and the community in which they raised their family.
  3. Jim always felt a deep connection to both the Museum and the University.

We are delighted to support the Princeton University Art Museum and believe strongly in their mission. As one of the world’s leading teaching museums, the impact of their collections, educational programming, and various publications has the power to transform generations to come.

The Museum is undergoing an ambitious expansion project designed by Sir David Adjaye. The Museum is scheduled to open in late 2024. To learn more about the expansion and the Museum, click below:

A New Museum for Princeton | Princeton University Art Museum

Our search for the next recipient of the JGL Gives Back contribution has begun! If you have suggestions regarding organizations that are dedicated to the arts, education, travel or food service, email us at [email protected] to nominate your choice for the next $3,000 gift!

18- Jan2023
Posted By: Tracy Lawler

Is Your Food Service Program Stuck in the Past?

Happy New Year! People are coming back to the office on a more regular basis and things are starting to feel more like 2019 again… thank goodness! Now the question is, how do you keep things fresh and interesting so that boredom doesn’t settle in?

Here are 6 tips to ensure your corporate dining program is staying ahead of the curve:

  1. ROTATION – Be sure your program includes rotating pop-up concepts that represent local, popular restaurants. This allows employees to conveniently enjoy their favorite local spot without having to leave the office. Creating a variety of offerings is crucial to ensuring consistent engagement.
  2. ASKING A QUESTION – Find creative ways to encourage employees to become more invested in the food service program. For example, if you are considering a new coffee brand, offer a taste test that concludes with a vote, or ask guests to submit their favorite family recipe to be featured at a weekly Chef’s Table station.
  3. TECH MATTERS – Order ahead, self-checkout and App-based platforms are a must. Even if you find that people are more inclined to make purchases the old-fashioned way, technology speaks volumes about the level of program your organization has. Additionally, having a technology program in place allows for faster and more efficient communication to support marketing initiatives.
  4. WELL, WELL, WELLNESS – In this day and age, not only are people concerned about the spreading of germs, but we are very focused on overall health! What kinds of foods can help build a strong immune system? Having a registered dietician available to answer questions and help develop programs that are relevant to wellness is more important than ever.
  5. TRANSPARENCY – From responsible food sourcing to allergen sensitivity, to carbon emissions, a food story is vitally important. The how, when, where and why need to be communicated.
  6. USE YOUR DATA – You have access to all the information you need to understand exactly what ‘your people’ want. Review your sales data, participation rates, marketing campaigns and top sellers to develop an analysis of what excites people and gets them to walk through the door.

Whether you self-operate your food service operation or work with a management company, JGL can make recommendations to energize your food service program. In many ways, we are excited for the world to feel like 2019 again, but your food service program shouldn’t be stuck in the past.

18- Jan2023
Posted By: Tracy Lawler

Your Food Service Contract Is Expiring – Should You Renew or Go Out to Bid?

JGL frequently works with corporate clients who are trying to determine whether to renew their food service agreement or go out to bid. While there is not one answer that fits all, here are a few elements to consider when faced with this decision.

  1. Employee Satisfaction: Are employees generally satisfied and regular users of the dining services operation? Employee participation is critical in this environment of decreased office population.
  2. Creativity and Proactive Thinking: The best relationships are ones where the vendor comes to the client with new ideas for consideration. If you, the client, are driving all creative thinking it may be time to go out to bid.
  3. Age of the contract: If the contract was signed more than ten years ago, it might be a good idea to consider an RFP. Industry terms, norms and operating practices change over time, so an older contract likely does not have all the bells and whistles more current contracts do.
  4. Current Relationship: If the current relationship with the vendor is good and generally has been over the course of the contract, a renewal may serve you both well.
  5. Responsiveness: No vendor is going to be perfect all the time. What matters is how they respond to challenges. If your vendor is responsive in the face of challenges, that is a positive consideration for renewal.
  6. Evaluate reporting: Does the vendor give you the reports and data you need to understand the business? Are the reports accurate and timely? If not, it might be time to consider a change.
  7. Renew with Tweaks: If you are generally satisfied on most fronts, but want to implement one or two modest changes (like including KPI’s in the renewal), use this time as an opportunity to engage in dialogue with your provider. This is the best of both worlds as you get change without going out to bid.
  8. Consider a Provisional Renewal: When JGL works with a client who is generally satisfied but is seeking meaningful change in key areas, we will often offer a short-term renewal while the vendor focuses on improving the deficient areas. At the end of a proscribed period, the client has a better sense of whether the vendor can effect change. If positive progress exists, the renewal is extended, and if not, the client commences a bid process.
  9. Consider Time and Resources: An RFP is an investment in time and resources. If management does not have the time to focus on the selection process it will not have a good outcome. Be honest with regards to your firm’s capacities at the moment.
  10. Identify Goals: If a bid process is elected, be clear about the goals of the process. A well-crafted RFP will garner the proposals you want while one that is poorly thought out may not result in significant change.

These ten points are worthy of consideration as contract expiration looms. We recommend clients start focusing on next steps a minimum of one year before contract expiration. If you have any questions on where your company stands, reach out to JGL for a complimentary consultation.