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Catering@Aston new initiatives

Following the feedback received from the previous staff satisfaction survey and user groups, Catering@Aston have been developing their strategies moving forward to ensure they are meeting the diverse needs of the Aston Community across University Hospitality, DolcHeVita, CafeTierra and CafeLibro. A number of achievements and steps forward have already been accomplished including the relaunch of the hospitality booking process, RSS feeds into the blog and news sections of the website so that staff and students have alerts when the site is updated, the relaunch of DolcHeVita and an express order service to beat the queues at lunchtime.

November saw the appointment of Kate Glynn as Head of Catering; Kate brings an exciting new dynamic to Catering@Aston with a number of years experience leading high street catering outlets and restaurants. As we settle into 2011, we have committed to delivering a number of key objectives for Catering@Aston services. The seven objectives listed below include the focus moving forward and the achievements to date following the last staff satisfaction survey.

1.       Value: To provide a range of products and services that meet the different budgetary considerations of the Aston Community whilst remaining competitive against external service providers.

  • The key focus will be to develop the menus within the catering outlets to ensure customers can purchase a balanced meal that meets their expectations. The tariff structure will also be revised to include a wider range of dishes from value to premium.

  • Since the previous survey, Catering@Aston have responded to customer feedback by introducing salad ranges to CafeTierra and DolcHeVita; the Sandwich range across outlets has been increased by 50% as of October 2010 and staff training on portion sizes has been revisited. Prices prior to the January VAT increase have actually been held for two years.

2.       To offer an appropriate selection of products and services across hospitality, outlets and catering supported events and areas that address the diverse needs of the Aston Community.

  • Communication and regular review of the menus and services on offer across all areas will ensure that the product ranges available address the needs of the Aston Community, these will be benchmarked against offerings from external service providers to ensure the range and choice remains competitive. Clear communication of positive changes and updates to the product range will be key to keeping consumers informed.

  • Since the last survey, Catering@Aston have extended the range of foods in DolcHeVita and Tierra and are investigating rotating food concepts for launch later this year.

3.       To deliver catering and hospitality services across all areas of a consistent quality standard that meet or exceed the expectations of the Aston Community with friendly, attentive and responsive service.

  • The realignment of hospitality and catering staff will ensure all areas are covered at peak times in line with consumer demand; changes to services will be communicated well in advance to ensure sufficient awareness within consumers; the streamlining of purchasing procedures will also create greater consistency of quality across all areas.

  • Since the last survey a 12 month training plan for catering staff has been implemented which will be reviewed and updated depending on current and future needs.

4.       To provide consistent, reliable catering services across all areas which are effectively resourced to respond as feasibly possible to the needs and demand of the Aston Community.

  • To ensure the needs of the Aston Community are met, staff and service levels  during holiday periods will be agreed and communicated well in advance; development of communication through the website and blog will be key to keeping consumers up to date alongside development of social networking sites; development of the feedback system for Catering will also aid in strengthening the communication channels between consumers and Catering.

  • Previous communications regarding the opening times have successfully been communicated with staff polls taking place on preference of outlets and the aim will be to continue this moving forward.

5.       To provide staff with the knowledge and skills to deliver consistent, informed, customer focused service across all catering services and outlets.

  • The training and development of catering staff will allow greater empowerment in service areas to provide a stronger customer focus; following the appointment of the new Head of Catering, a clear focus for the department will be communicated through all levels of the catering team.

6.       To provide a simple, effective booking process for catering hospitality services that responds quickly and efficiently to the needs of the Aston Community.

  • Consistent monitoring of the hospitality booking process to manage efficiencies and review of hospitality menus to ensure the needs of the Aston Community are constantly the focus for moving services forward.

  • Since the previous survey, the Hospitality booking process has been relaunched, simplifying the process and moving it outside of the University Agresso system to put the bookers directly in contact with catering.

7.       Identify feasible areas within purchasing, staff development, facilities and service delivery to develop the commitment of Catering Services in support of sustainability and the local community to reduce food and business miles. 

  • The development of major initiatives such as recycling and composting of all food waste to feed the gardens across campus and the sourcing of local suppliers wherever feasible will vastly improve the business and food miles of Catering.

  • The management of the relationship with key supplier 3663 has already made a significant impact on reducing deliveries and in turn, food miles. Water for  Catering is now bottled on site completely removing any associated mileage. Fair trade products are also used across catering services.

Words by Paul Bunce

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