15- Sep2022
Posted By: Tracy Lawler

Getting Ready to Renew Your College/University Food Service Contract or Go Out to Bid?

Tis the season. No – not that season. It is the season to start thinking about your food service contract that expires in the summer of 2023. While we realize the academic year is just beginning and you are in the thick of it, the truth is a successful renewal or bid process is based on proactive planning which should be starting now. JGL always recommends doing a mini assessment of the operation and services provided prior to starting a renegotiation or an RFP process. The information learned during the assessment process will inform your next moves regardless of the renegotiation or RFP status. Here are eight steps to consider:

  1. Gather Feedback: Speak to stakeholders across campus. This includes students, faculty, staff, catering users and non-users alike. Find out what they like, what they don’t like and what they want to see more of.
  2. Values: Consider institutional mission and values. Increasingly, sustainability, DEAI and social justice are important elements of food service contracts. If your current vendor is not aligned in these areas, consider what types of changes would support institutional objectives.
  3. Look to the Future: Identify any upcoming expansion, strategic priorities or other initiatives that might influence the future of food services on your campus.
  4. Crunch the numbers: Evaluate your board participation rates, swipes or dining dollars left on the table. Consider how well your organization has utilized funds provided by the existing contract. Determine whether cap ex is required.
  5. Process: Decide whether you are going to use a consultant or go it alone. Not sure? See a previous blog on the subject.
  6. Committee: Form a committee who will guide the recommendation that goes to decision makers. Be sure to include students so there is buy in.
  7. Renegotiate or RFP: Determine the best direction based on the above. Hint – if the current relationship is more than 10 years old it might be a good idea to go out to bid and test the waters from a fiduciary perspective.
  8. Manage your timeline: If you decide the renegotiate proceed forth with a wish list of items you want to change. Approach your vendor and request a pre-emptive offer. Leave enough time that you can still go out to bid if the renegotiation is unsuccessful. If you decide to go out to bid, utilize data from the above and kick off the process. We recommend getting the RFP on the street by late October or November at the latest for a June expiration.

Making a well-informed decision regarding a long-term contract takes patience, due diligence and expertise. The last few years have brought up so many unprecedented questions and challenges; this is the perfect time to improve your dining services and protect your interests. JGL is happy to answer any questions you might have regarding your institution’s renewal, re-negotiation, or RFP.

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