Following the lifting of the Working from Home Guidance in January 2022, millions of UK employees have been heading back to the office, triggering an immediate increase in the purchase of food to go, with the market forecast to grow by 31.8% this year (£21.3 billion value).
However, whilst dining out and food to go are back to the forefront of everyone’s minds, the cost-of-living crisis (resulting from post-pandemic return to work labour shortages, post-Brexit trading rules affecting UK imports from the EU and the war in Ukraine driving up food and fuel prices) means everyone is looking for ways to make their money go further.
With this in mind, TAF’s latest Benchmark Report “Planet Lunch” (June 2022) set out to establish:
(1) WHAT options UK consumers have today when considering dining out and food to go for lunch, (2) WHICH of the UK’s market leading companies/brands offer the biggest potential savings and (3) HOW consumers rank them when it comes to food quality and taste.
The Report addresses 2 Key Insights:
Consumer Research | Insights based on the latest market intelligence from Global Data, addressing the eight most relevant 2022 consumer megatrends and the five factors influencing food purchasing decisions.
Lunch Benchmark | Insights based on TAF’s unique field research, conducted in February and March 2022 addressing how UK consumers are looking for ways to make their money go further.
SME News Managing Director of the Year Awards focus on those at the forefront of UK businesses.
SME News highlight those showing excellence in leadership/commitment/determination in the past 12 months.
SME News say those at the forefront of UK businesses have changed/adapted to prove strength and versatility.
SME News advocate they accommodated remote working to keep teams/clients safe with ever-changing rules.
SME News celebrate momentous contributions leaders made to UK social/environmental/economic business.
SME News recognise now a crucial time to showcase MDs who’ve kept businesses afloat, improving dynamics.
SME News awards are based on merit (not votes) rewarding on industry excellence/client commitment/service.
3 THINGS OUR MD HAS TO SAY…
“After such a tumultuous few years, it’s an incredible honour to have been nominated” says Founder and Managing Director, Tracey Fairclough, “let alone, win such an illustrious award, when so many leaders have had to dig deep to keep their businesses afloat. I can’t even begin to thank the SME NEWS awards team for the amazingly accolade.”
“With this said, you’re never alone. So whilst it would appear TAF’s foodservice consultancy has changed and adapted to prove strength and versatility to accommodate the shift to working remotely, keeping our consultants, clients and caterers and those in our network safe and engaged, we were all paddling in the same proverbial boat.
Firstly, that boat cautiously navigated the pandemic ocean, then, this year, changed course through wartime Europe and the super sensitive economic ripples affecting hospitality labour and food prices. The challenges are not over.”
SME NEWS | For taking the time to recognise foodservice innovation this year, drawing from your extensive UK wide network of industry insiders who provide you with the latest news, cutting edge features and latest deals from across the UK SME landscape. I am humbled by SME NEWS, the awarding organisation… THANK YOU.
CONSULTANT PARTNERS | I wouldn’t be where I am today today if it weren’t for Alex Mingoni, for her genius that drives us forward, for her resilience and being a close and valued confidante, colleague and friend. We’ve talked throughout and she’s always been “there” unquestioning, supportive and engaged. A most invaluable relationship. THANK YOU. To the other consultants we’ve worked with too; we’ve been lucky enough to recruit nineteen other specialists (brand technicians, chefs, food safety experts, hr specialist, photographer, production companies – esp. my husband’s company Buzz Production), since January 2021, to support those in facilities around essential services, City of London firms and Nationwide corporate company workplace catering… THANK YOU.
CORPORATE CLIENTS | TAF wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for our wonderful clients, all 25 of them, for believing in us to invest in our work for them. And, goodness, the challenges those in Facilities have faced since March 2020, the mind boggles; to go from housing and feeding 2000 employees in a single building to accommodating and nourishing 2000 people in 2000 home working environments… I’m amazed they’re all still standing, smiling and spirited. To those who’ve employed us, they’re the true heroes and have played such a significant part of our business, employing us to be extensions to theirs (law firms, insurance firms, nationwide banks, accountants, tech firms, property companies and other consultancy businesses, whom we’ve supported) … THANK YOU.
CORPORATE CATERERS | To all the 44+ caterers in our network, you know who you are; you are the reason we’re still in this business. For if it weren’t for your proud and inspiring stories of foodservice innovations and overcoming pandemic and wartime challenges, we would not have been able to keep as engaged with our clients and other consultants. So, to those of you who have battled onwards, through people and food shortages, and driven upwards, keeping strong, focused and determined, I salute you and … THANK YOU.
AND FINALLY | And so to, last, but by no means least, James Fairclough, my gorgeous husband, for being my rock on TAF’s journey and vision to improve people at work’s lives through innovative, inspiring and evolving foodservices and hospitality. For believing in me, and supporting me, from our humble beginnings to what is turning into a defining and heavyweight year… THANK YOU.
I feel amazing today which is why I wanted to share my stupendous news and THANK everyone who’s been there with me, on my journey. TAF is busier than we’ve ever been. In fact, here we are, May 2022, the landscape of contract hospitality changed forever but having worked hard throughout 2021, travelling over 10,000 miles, completing our biggest projects to date, investing time and money in our people and the latest consumer reports, engaging over 40 caterers, presenting to thought-leaders and writing our pioneering TAFTALKS insights reports for our clients… we’ve come out the other side, with an amazing accolade to reward us. May this be inspiration to you dear reader, all is not lost, when you stay focused and remember …
“None of us is as smart as all of us”
(Ken Blanchard, management expert and author of the famous book “The One Minute Manager”).
I delivered my first post pandemic talk a couple of weeks ago to an audience of pioneering facilities and foodservice professionals. My audience represented some of the most illustrious, cutting-edge financial services, legal, regal and educational UK establishments. Their brief: present the latest post-pandemic foodservice insights.
Whilst my audience’s expectations would have presented a rather daunting prospect, I then found, on the day, I was also scheduled to follow Kate Nicholls to present at the “by invitation only” event. Kate Nicholls, the CEO of UK Hospitality, “the” shining light of 2020/2021, hospitality powerhouse of the last two incredibly challenging pandemic years (to pub, restaurant and contract catering sectors) and deserved recipient of an OBE in this years’ New Year Honours.
So sitting across from these well-heeled executives, in the heart of the City of London, I started my “foodservice insights and the post pandemic customer” presentation.
Now whilst this presentation was the first of its kind, it was in fact the result of over twenty years of rehearsals, thus my desire to share with anyone contemplating a high profile presentation with a “how to”.
1) USE FEWER SLIDES |
In this post-pandemic era, communication is key to building relationships and trust. If you present using fewer slides, it simply allows you to look into the eyes and faces of the audience you’re trying to dazzle. For me, less is so much more which lead to presenting using only 6 slides in my deck.
Example: Winston Churchill, confronted with invasion from Nazi-occupied France, delivered a soaring 36 minute rally to countrymen, now known as his “Finest Hour” speech.
2) AVOID BULLET POINTS |
Bullets are the least effective way to get your points across. Pictures/images are much more memorable, which scientists call “pictorial superiority”; hear information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it; add a picture and you’ll remember 65%. This is why we tend to create unique icons/infographics.
Example: Steve Jobs, considered one of the most extraordinary presenters of our time, rarely showed slides with text/bullets, instead preferring photos and text.
3) APPLY VOCAL POWER |
Speakers who raise and lower the volume of voice, and alternate between high and low pitch, emphasising key messages, tend to be more influential, persuasive, and commanding. Research shows effective
persuaders modulate their voice, and appear more confident.
Example: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” 1963 speech stirred an anti racism movement with passion, cadence (modulation/inflection in voice) & call to his audience.
4) CREATE WOW MOMENTS |
Great presenters create “wow” moments or experiences. People never recall every slide or word of a presentation, so add a wow moment, shake things up a little, grab attention; and for a moment make your audience forget about everything else but that wow. See it as adding value to your audience.
Example, Bill Gates, in a famous 2009 TEDTalk on reducing the spread of malaria, walked on stage, opened a jar of non-infected mosquitoes and said “We’ll let those roam the auditorium a bit”. A surprise, immersive, unexpected experience grabs the audience (as the brain gets bored).
5) MAKE REHEARSALS COUNT|
Most speakers don’t practice nearly as much as they should. Whilst they review their slides in advance, they neglect the practice hours to shine.Chess grandmasters don’t happen in an instant, with less than a decade studying the game; the world’s greatest speakers put in the time, going from good to great.
Example: Malcolm Gladwell in 2013 made the “10,000-hour rule” famous as a benchmark for excellence — stating, in so many words, that 20 hours of practice a week for a decade can make anyone a master.
Never underestimate the power of great communication, especially in today’s post pandemic world; a world starved (for two years) of face to face engagement or experience.
Effective communications can help land the client or clients of your dreams, attracting many in backing your ideas and elevate your stature in the industry.
With plenty of good speakers around, sharpen your skills as a first step to setting yourself apart from the crowd; stand out by delivering something great, wow and unforgettable!
So here I am, last day of March 2022; reflecting on everything I’ve absorbed and learned in the last three months, being a post-pandemic judge for an awards event designed to spotlight our glorious contract catering industry (despite being battered and beaten by COVID-19).
Whilst the actual reading and judging of submissions took place weeks ago, the glittering and glamorous awards dinner in Central London, took place earlier this week; an evening 100% focused on celebrating, toasting and rewarding the “crème de la crème” of British foodservice.
I was so overwhelmed with the calibre of candidates and phenomenal innovation that I wanted to share my experiences here to incentivise more candidates; given there are so many contract catering professionals, equally as deserving, who may think about giving it a go and submitting.
Why? Entering for an Award
From my perspective, an award-winner myself, industry awards are reassuring validation and recognition that you, your department and/or your business is delivering a “best practice” approach, as a pioneer, an inventor and a leader.
From writing a submission to winning an award, awards: boost staff morale, improve motivation, recognise contribution, reward hard work, deliver standout results, improve perception/reputation and be great for business; as a finalist but more if you WIN.
Stage 1 | Reading the Submissions
Firstly, having read every submission at my leisure, of the categories I was a judge, I found myself astonished with achievements, efforts and level of detail around words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, photos, presentations, references and videos.
Secondly, I was acutely aware some submissions appeared written by the caterer, despite the caterer’s significantly depleted resources (time/resource); whilst others appeared written by well-oiled award-writing agencies creating perfect PR stories.
Thirdly, what was crystal clear is that ALL candidates, without exception, were worthy of a stand-up and shout out at the awards and a clap and a cheer from everyone, given the HUGELY challenging times and need for pioneering innovation to “carry on catering”.
Stage 2 | Judging the Candidates
So, this is where you, as a judge, listen, collaborate and deliver verdicts based on the shared experiences and collective industry knowledge of the other panel judges and this is what I have to share to educate, inform and inspire others to give it a go:
Best foot forward | Make your best points first, backing claims with evidence.
Storytelling | Write a clear narrative story, outline intentions, facts and figures.
Make it real | Use real examples to bring to life; evidence-based improvements.
Answer questions | Read the criteria to answer questions; sticking to word counts.
Support material | Choose the best, most evocative statistics, images, testimonials.
Think like a judge | Put yourself in judge shoes prior submission, for an easy read.
Benefits/results | List benefit/result outcomes; winners show a true work value.
Shared learning | Show how results can be replicated across the business.
Formatting | Ensure supplemental information looks good when converted to a PDF.
Do yourself/your entry justice | Include all key facts, benefits and positives.
Accuracy | Poor grammar/spelling does not sit well with judges (attention to detail).
Teamwork | Don’t avoid a team effort; colleagues have (healthy) different views.
Shout achievements | Put across passion and pride in your entry.
Avoid jargon | Judges are not all from a health service finance.
Persistence | There’s always scope to refine previous entries.
If the nominations are focused on winning submissions, then you’re almost certainly, in my experience, reading about winning people and/companies focused on 7 traits:
Relatable| They’re honest and make emotional connections via their stories.
People-focused| They actually care, are objective, realistic, and inclusive.
Inspirational| They use industry knowledge/insights to deliver something special.
Innovative| They’re working smarter/faster, doing something new & unique.
Reflective| They reflect on actions to measure, understand, tweak, adapt.
Energetic| They use their own energy/enthusiasm to carry you on a journey.
Altruistic | They naturally care about someone/something; with no egos in sight.
Stage 3 | Attending the Ceremony
There’s so much amazing work that has evolved out of the pandemic and to be able to play a part in awarding those who stand out, as a judge, is wonderful.
It was a very tough awards to judge, with super strong competition making the decision-making process all the more challenging.
However, as we’d engaged over 44 contract caterers, throughout lockdown; we were already familiar with how the caterers had actually innovated their way through the pandemic, having journeyed c.10,000 miles to see how they do it for themselves.
For me, it takes great courage and character to think differently, carve a path on uneven terrain and head out into unknown territory, thus the need to celebrate those who lead by example, set the bar higher and deliver over and above good and better, but “best practice”.
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the feedback of others –
consultants, caterers, colleagues and bosses – thus I wanted to share my thoughts with you…
in the hope you submit in future!
Best of Luck
Tracey Fairclough | Managing Director (pictured with another judge, Jeni Edwards)
On Tuesday TAF Catering Consultancy attended the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show at Excel, co-located this year with the International, Food & Drink Event (IFE), IFE Manufacturing & the London Produce Show – creating one of the biggest foodservice innovation spaces to date.
Here are TAF’s TOP 10 show take-aways, according to Consultant Alex Mingoni:
1 | Front of House Delivery Robots | Developed by Hutech Robotics and launched in the UK around 12 months ago. The welcome has been cautious, given hospitality is a traditionally “people-centric” industry, but robotics could potentially enhance catering operations, giving staff the opportunity to focus on customer service. Product features: AI voice interaction (in several languages), multiple delivery modes (multi-table, cruise, birthday), laser & visual navigation, customisable branding and built-in advertising screens.
2 | International Salon Culinaire | One of the world’s top chef competitions for over a century and a fantastic platform for chefs at all levels – from culinary students to well established professionals – it is always very inspiring to watch, as it showcases the fantastic and exciting gastronomic skills the UK hospitality industry has to offer. In addition to the live competitions this year, a fantastic sugarcraft section including showpieces, floral arrangements, wedding cakes, novelty cakes.
3 | Telling Brand Stories Panel | Hosted by brand strategist Dan Nash, Dishoom’s Creative Director Sara Stark & Mission Mars’s Marketing Manager Jack Edge shared their company approach to storytelling as a way to increase brand awareness and effectively engage customers. Different experiences, one clear takeaway: customers choose certain foodservice brands over others not only because of the food quality they showcase, but because of an emotional connection with the brand’s journey: at the end of the day, it’s all about “humans trying to attract humans”.
The Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) today hosted a lunch at the Princess of Shoreditch in London, for the 50 inspiring women in the foodservice industry, to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).
Tracey Fairclough, TAF’s Managing Director, said: “Today was a wonderful way to celebrate International Women’s Day, catering provided by the super talented chef Ruth Hansom and her amazingly talented culinary team.
The Association of Catering Excellence brought together some of the amazingly talented women in hospitality who’ve inspired over the last ten years and will, no doubt, play a significant role in shaping a whole new world of post-pandemic hospitality. I was humbled and proud to have been included on the list of “one of the most inspiring females in foodservices 2022”.
Happy International Women’s Day! Today we celebrate the social, economic and cultural achievements of women across all sectors.
As an all-female catering consultancy operating in a highly competitive, male-dominated industry, TAF recognises the importance of taking meaningful action to break the bias and promote equality, diversity and inclusion, especially in light of recent data highlighting that in 2020/2021, the gender pay gap in hospitality grew for the first time in three years (Source: WiHTL & PwC, January 2022).
However, it is very positive to see how the hospitality sector is actively responding to these ongoing challenges with targeted action by focusing on employee development, more inclusive recruitment & retention practices, updated policies and procedures and improved education and awareness.
On this special day, we’d like to give a big shout-out to all the outstanding women that make hospitality the fantastic, dynamic industry it is today!
The TAF Catering Consultancy is delighted to announce Tracey Fairclough has been nominated for the SME News Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022.
SME News report the award focuses on those at the forefront of businesses and seeks to shine a light on those who have shown true excellence in leadership, commitment & determination more than ever over the past 12 months across the UK.
After an uneasy couple of years, those at the forefront of UK businesses have changed and adapted to prove strength and versatility to accommodate the shift to working remotely to keep teams/clients safe with ever-changing rules & regulations.
SME News say they seek to celebrate and reward the momentous contributions leaders make to the social, environmental, and economic prosperity in their business across the nation, recognising now to be the most crucial time for the Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022; the perfect way to showcase managing directors who have kept businesses afloat, changed company dynamics for the better and have even bigger goals for 2022.
The awards are based on merit alone, rather than the number of votes received for each individual and the process works to reward managing directors based on their excellence in the industry, the commitment to their clients and their dedication to services.
A NEW HOPE (FOR THE FOODSERVICE & HOSPITALITY SECTOR)
Despite the pandemic, Tracey Fairclough reported, earlier this month, TAF is busier, than it’s ever been. In the last two years, more notably, supporting corporate client return-to-work workplace catering strategies with “options” reports to provide a best practice approach by LISTENING, COLLABORATING and DELIVERING bespoke solutions.
Fairclough says “Here we are, February 2022, the landscape of contract hospitality changed forever but the UK reporting the fastest growing economy in the G7 (inc. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA). This means that, with corporates now contemplating sustainable return-to-work strategies around flexible working patterns, we’re best placed, more than ever, to support them.
Why? We worked hard throughout 2021. We came off Furlough and travelled over 10,000 miles, completing our biggest projects to date, whilst investing time and money in the the latest consumer reports, visiting over 25 caterers and writing the pioneering TAFTALKS 2021 insights report for our clients.
More than ever, TAF is about supporting corporate clients with relevant, reliable, timely best practice workplace foodservice solutions; reducing financial outlays, as we’ve already gleaned the industry insight to share with them.”
In October 2021, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company rebrand to Meta, reflecting a shift in their core business from a social media company to a “metaverse company”. The development had been a long time in the making, since Facebook entered the virtual reality tech market in 2014 by acquiring Oculus, a head-mounted display technology production company.
The announcement received mixed press reviews, with commentators highlighting how this was probably an attempt to distract consumers from the criticism the company had faced following the publication of the “Facebook Papers”, as the rebrand didn’t entail any substantial changes to the company structure.
An unprecedented social hype developed as a consequence: Google searches of the word “metaverse” skyrocketed in the following weeks, countless articles were (and still are) written and even an online journal called Journal of Metaverse was founded.
For those not familiar with virtual reality technology (I wasn’t either until I started university last year), the concept of metaverse is not at all new in tech and has been considered common place for several years within the gaming community, where multiple metaverses exist, allowing users to create and preserve their digital identity across different platforms.
The word was coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson for the sci-fi novel Snow Crash. Set in the early 21st century, it imagines a future where power is in the hands of a few global corporations. The metaverse is a 65,000 km long road where humans enter as avatars – wearing goggles and earphones – to escape the real world. Since the novel was published, developments in technology have allowed to translate Stephenson’s cyber-punk vision of a virtual future into an achievable reality, often referred to as “Web 3.0”.
How does this connect to foodservices, you may ask? Well, whilst it is not (yet) a mainstream, widely utilised technology and market entry still carries considerable costs, food retailers are already leveraging this very powerful digital resource and actually ARE in the metaverse. Here is how.
In December 2021, new figures revealed the cost of living rose by 5.1% in 12 months to November, its highest rate in 10 years; the jump, driven largely by rising fuel and energy costs, puts further pressure on both households and businesses (trying to feed their people at work and home).
Given that we’ve been asked about the impact of inflation on foodservices, TAF’s catering consultants now explain the basics of inflation and what it might mean to anyone in facilities around foodservices.
Click the link below to access TAF’s Infographics: