Time away from the hustle and bustle of regular life on campus could give university catering managers time to get on top of processes.
With the UK remaining in lockdown for the foreseeable future, many of us are continuing to adapt to working from home rather than from our usual workspaces.
Although limited catering services are available to the small numbers of students still living on campus, the majority of university catering and hospitality managers are working off-site.
While you may be missing the buzz of campus life and attempting to navigate your way around remote working, this quieter period also provides a chance to take stock of current processes and look at ways they could be improved when things do eventually go back to normal.
Using this time to focus on how you manage operations in every area – from suppliers, stock management and staffing, to service delivery and waste management – could help highlight areas that are being neglected, or aren’t perhaps running as efficiently as they should.
To kick things off, note down all key areas of operations and be critical about each one. Are your current processes helping you to meet your overall objectives? If not, how can you tweak, or overhaul them to ensure they do?
And this doesn’t have to be a solo project: Get your team involved to get an accurate picture. Ask your chefs if there are recipes that take too long to prepare, or are too costly, and encourage their ideas on how to improve them – could they be just as good with an alternative (and less expensive) ingredient?
Analyse wastage data to identify the least popular dishes, and look at how to change them, or scrap them completely to help bring waste costs down.
Sales data should also enable you to identify peak times in canteens and bars. To maximise efficiency and profits during this time, why not invite those on the frontline – your service staff – to highlight positives and negatives and task them with making suggestions for improvements?
Events (if your university hosts them) operations and finance professionals, or teams, should also be included and asked for their thoughts on their respective areas. Could invoicing and payment terms and processes be adjusted to improve cash flow, for example?
Including the wider team gives you an accurate picture of the status quo and could present ideas you hadn’t thought of, but it is also a great way to keep staff engaged and connected at a time when we are all being asked to keep apart to stay safe. If appropriate, you could organise a group video call to discuss ideas.
Indeed, one thing we can feel grateful for during lockdown, is technology, which allows many of us to work from home and stay connected to our colleagues, friends and family via instant messaging, email and video conferencing.
Technology and relevant software, such as TUCO Online’s eProcurement system and Advanced Stock Management, also present us with data that can be used to determine the processes used and offer many solutions to issues. These systems will be integral in helping managers get on top of processes, in planning for the future, and in the smooth delivery of services when things get back to normal.
To find out more about TUCO Online and the benefits it can bring your organisation, book your free demo today by contacting [email protected].
If the subject raised in this article is of interest to you, we also discuss it in some other parts of the website.