Negotiating a Catering Contract: Director of Educo, Robert Weiner shares his tops tips
We all know how busy head teachers and bursars are, and with the many demands on their time, choosing, recruiting and managing contractors for vital services such as catering can feel like a drain on resources.
Educo work exclusively in the UK education sector to help head teachers, governors and bursars monitor and improve the quality of school meals and to save staff precious time in the tendering process when negotiating new catering contracts.
We met with Robert, the Director of Educo to ask him for his top tips for teachers considering taking on a new catering contract:
Tip one: Know your requirements, what do you really need from your caterer?
Before you even start to think about approaching caterers it’s vital to take the time to think about your school’s bespoke catering requirements; the required meal specification, the objectives of the service and the food standards you need. When working with a school, Educo will spend time really getting to grips with each and every schools specific needs, before creating a bespoke service specification and legal agreement.
Tip two: Navigate the legal minefield
Asides from a new building contract, the school meal catering contract is likely to be the biggest contract a school awards. The provision of school meals is regulated too and dealing with this complexity, facing commercial pressures and legal contracts makes it a potential minefield. Educo have seen commercial contractors use weak or poor legal agreements that have subsequently cost schools money and left them exposed to poor performance. It’s vital that you protect your meal service and budget with an extremely detailed, bespoke catering contract that is unique to your needs and aspirations.
Educo will always ensure any catering contractor appointed to a school uses the Educo Catering Agreement which provides all the legal and commercial protections a school might need.
Tip three: Review and reflect
As the catering contract continues it’s important to review the successes of the menu, pupil and adult meal uptake and the monthly financial costs. Regular meetings ensure no surprises crop up. Educo works with both the school and the caterer to ensure that clear, open, concise reporting and communication processes are established to build relationships between all the involved parties.
Educo provide on-going service audits, share and develop best practice and hold regular meetings with client schools and catering contractors to make sure that the catering service continues to maintain standards.
How Educo could support your school
If you’d rather not go it alone, Educo are on hand to help. An independent catering & facilities management consultancy, Educo supports SEN, primary and secondary schools, multi academy trusts and further education establishments, providing bespoke services and contract specifications, handling all of the specification, tender arrangements and negotiations through to the final contract. They will protect your school’s interests, insuring improved meals for the students and often providing a financial benefit too. Click here to find out more.
Educo and Food for Life
Robert and the Educo team know that lunchtimes are a key part of the school day. Food should be freshly prepared, nutritious and well sourced and served in an environment that makes it a positive experience for the whole school. Food for Life supports schools provide healthy meals, great lunchtimes and food education that has a positive impact on both pupils and the wider community. That’s why Educo are generously supporting Food for Life by donating a percentage of their charges to the programme.
Click here to find out more about Educo and how their services could benefit your school.