Deciding on a contract food service management company doesn’t happen overnight. When a branch of operations within your facility is placed in their hands, so is your reputation.
Comparisons are critical; the right company isn’t always the one with the most competitive bid. In the best of circumstances, contract workers and facility employees work seamlessly side-by-side. This benefits everyone, including the residents.
Certain qualities make a company stand out as a top competitor, and these are five worth considering:
1. Health and Safety Training and Practices
The health and safety of elder care residents and food service workers is the highest concern, and lax practices can lead to serious problems. The necessary state and local health requirements, which might include food safety classes and health screenings for communicable diseases, should be up to date for everyone working in your facility.
Request their health and safety policies, and ask questions if something seems out of order. A trustworthy company knows its reputation is as important as yours and will happily share this information.
2. Up-to-Date Technology
Technology not only makes food storage and preparation easier, it helps keep the facility’s dining program up to date with industry trends. Putting the experts in charge of spotting where the industry is headed is one of the perks that lets you focus on other critical issues.
The needs and expectations of the senior population are ever evolving. Your business benefits from a company that has the tools to keep the facility on par or above the competition.
3. Menu Innovation and Attention to Dietary Needs
The management company should offer a wide range of menu options and have a proven record of innovation in the kitchen. Daily variety and fresh choices keep diners happy, and so does providing meals cooked to order.
Special dietary needs aren’t occasional issues in an eldercare facility. Low-sodium, reduced-sugar, gluten-free and allergy-sensitive options are only a few considerations that the company should handle with ease. A good candidate has at least one dietitian on staff.
4. Clean Track Record of Quality Service
Everything seems in order once a contract is agreed upon, but you need to know how well the company keeps its promises. Ask for references and testimonials, and don’t skip the follow-up.
A testimonial in writing is one thing, but speaking with another facility that has used the company’s services gives more insight. Ask open-ended instead of “yes or no” questions to leave room for more revealing answers.
5. Open Lines of Communication
A contract food service management company takes some of the workload off the facility. This includes procurement, hiring, some bookkeeping and payroll, as well as menu and food preparation.
Open communication with the workers and their company is vital to the success of both parties. Understand going in who your contacts are and who is responsible for which aspects of their business.
Contracting with experts can keep your facility on track and take it up to the next level, but that depends on finding one that suits your needs. Explain your goals and expectations and be open to new ideas. Working together keeps business operating smoothy and residents comfortable and cared for.
Rich Valway is CEO of Culinary Services Group, a contract food-service management company serving the Mid-Atlantic.