One of the most difficult conflicts contract caterers face is with keeping lunch offerings fresh and exciting, in fact, “four-fifths of British office workers are bored with their lunch choices”1. Maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction can be done through a number of ways, so when you’re looking to appease your customers, be sure to think about what they want and then pair this with what you can offer.
The most important factors which influence lunchtime decisions for Britons are convenience (38%), taste (37%), and price (35%)2, so here is some advice on what you can do to tap-into these areas more:
Having options that are not only convenient but also fit your customer needs is a must for all outlets, since 57% of all visits to contract catering outlets is because it is convenient to work3. If you don’t have the food options that your customers want, most of the time they can easily find it elsewhere on the high-street or they will bring it in themselves. This emphasises the importance of keeping up with the latest trends in the market.
Grab and go options are a necessity to have in your outlets, with 68% of the workforce skipping lunch due to the fact that they have too much to do. Consequently, more and more people are buying their meals on-the-go, resulting in the sector being estimated to rise to £23.5 billion by 2022, from £17.4 billion in 20175.The biggest seller in the UK remains to be sandwiches because of how convenient and easy they are, meaning they have consumed 63% of the grab and go market, that’s almost two thirds of sales to-go! 5
Quote: “I was just walking past and I fancied it” 3
Displaying your food in an eye catching way will help to attract people in, particularly for those who are spontaneous with purchasing grab and go options like sandwiches or salads, and wanting to take their lunch back to their desk. Whilst for those wanting to take a proper lunch break, make sure that the space you have available encourages a good social environment for those looking for a welcomed break. Have you considered putting grab and go options early in the customer journey through your outlet for those who want to make a quick decision?
Taste is one of the best ways to provide customer satisfaction and it therefore promotes loyalty. If you have the capabilities to cook on site, make the most of it by promoting that you freshly cook meals on site as this adds perceived quality to your menu.
With consumers looking to try more and more different varieties of flavoured foods from around the world, it’s important that you try to incorporate these into new tastes into your menus. These varying flavours are cropping up due to the fact that 9 in 10 Britons eat world cuisines at home5, meaning there is plenty of scope for you to include these in your menus.
Providing personalisation is key to tailoring taste to your customers as it allows you to provide exactly what your customer wants in your offering. Personalisation is a great way of stopping people bringing in their own packed lunches, where 87% of those who do so, do it to have control of the ingredients used5. Sandwich stations are a good way of contesting this since they provide the tools for customers to make sandwiches/wraps exactly how they want.
Changing your offering through seasonality is another way to improve taste and therefore customer satisfaction. You should consider lighter options such as salads and BBQ flavours during the summer period and then warmer comfort food for when it is the colder months. To encourage a more fresh feel to your menu, why not include in-season foods to your menu?
Finally, there is price which is vitally important for gaining customer satisfaction. Customers are constantly looking for good quality food at a good price, with 26% of customers in the market choosing value as their top reason for visiting a contract catering outlet5.
Contract catering average spend is generally low, with an average spend of £5.51, going as low as £2.97 in the workplace3. The biggest issue is competing with the high street offer which customers are willing to spend more on. However, this does suggest that there is scope for higher customer spend if you provide higher quality options. The other battle is stopping people bringing in their own packed lunch. To combat this you need set your prices low enough and for it maintain enough quality so that the effort of making it and bringing it in may not be worth it for your customers.
To provide more value to your menu and consequently provide more customer satisfaction, the best thing to do is make use of things such as meal deals and loyalty schemes as it not only provides satisfaction to customers, but it also encourages repeat visits. Using a loyalty scheme allows the user to track how close they are to gaining a reward whilst they can also use it to see the latest promotions that are on offer. These schemes make a big impact since 59% of lunch purchasers are swayed to choose a restaurant based on the use of loyalty cards5.
For more information and advice, get in touch with your account manager today.
 New Covent Garden Soup, 2017
 Canvas8, 2017
 MCA Contract Catering Report, 2017
 Total Jobs, 2017
 Mintel, Attitudes Towards Lunch Out-of-Home – UK – October 2016