SPCB (2004)Paper 165 14 December 2004
VARIOUS CATERING ISSUES Issue 1. To provide information on the results of the Members’ catering questionnaire and to ask the SPCB to consider if any changes are required to the existing policy on service provision, access, food offer and tariffs and to agree a name for this facility; and to agree whether or not to provide a coffee area in the Chamber Conference Room. In addition, the SPCB is invited to consider whether it wishes to establish a Catering User Advisory Group. Contact: Allan Clark, Facilities Management, Ext 85108. Discussion 2. At the last meeting, the SPCB asked us to conduct a quick survey of Members to establish why they are not using the 1st Level Restaurant in large numbers and what improvements in the service would encourage them to use it more. This paper reports on the results and reproduces the other issues which the SPCB put on hold pending the survey. Resource Implications 3. Difficult to quantify, as increased custom may mean increasing staff and attendant costs. Next Steps 4. To implement any changes agreed by the SPCB as soon as possible.
Decisions 5. The SPCB is invited to: • • • • • Agree to introduce snacks etc in the bar. Agree to separate the bar and to consider whether to create a third private area. Consider whether any changes should be made to the access policy. Agree that it is too early to review the prices in the 1st Level Restaurant. Agree a name for the Restaurant and Bar.
Consider whether the Chamber Conference Room should be used as a coffee lounge. Consider whether a Catering User Advisory Group should be established.
Technology & Facilities Management Directorate December 2004
ANNEX A BACKGROUND 1. At its last meeting, in considering paper SPCB (2004) 159, the SPCB asked us to send out a questionnaire to seek to establish why they were not using the 1st Level Restaurant in large numbers and on what we could change or improve on to encourage them to use it more. This paper reports on the outcome of the survey and offers suggested ways forward. It also, for completeness, reproduces the other issues in Paper 159, namely the possible use of the Chamber Conference Room for coffee and the Catering User Advisory Group. TIMING 2. While there are no time constraints, an early decision would allow any changes to policy to have an early effect. DISCUSSION First Level Restaurant/Bar 3. Since submission of Paper 159, we have received the figures for November, shown in a revised Annex B attached. These show an improvement which put us on budget for the month, as shown in the table below:
Projected Income 11,007 11,203 12,821 Actual Income 9,099 6,822 13,159 Projected Subsidy (Loss) 4,250 3,042 4,376 Actual Subsidy (Loss) 6,158 7,423 4,038 Difference 1,908 4,381 -329
September October November
Despite this, they still fall short of the tendered bid of 240 lunches and 90 dinners per week, and the restaurant is still being underused. In order to understand why, a catering questionnaire was sent to all Members. Their views were sought on how the service could be tailored to meet their needs. Some Members had widely differing views and it would not be possible to address everyone’s concerns. This paper focuses on the issues where there is majority consensus. 4. Although the questionnaire was sent out at very short notice, giving only 2 days to complete, 58 Members responded and Annex C (link attached)
http://intranet/selectsurvey/ResultsOverview.asp?DisplayHeader=Yes&SurveyID=13 8 provides an overview of the results. Where percentages are quoted, these
are based on the number of respondents who answered the question and not the number of Members who completed the survey, as not all questions were completed.
Lunch Time 5. The questionnaire confirms that at lunch time the Garden Level Restaurant is more popular than the 1st Level restaurant. The main reason is the “slow service”, with 71% of respondents citing this as the reason they seldom or never use the 1st Level restaurant, with the next reason being “not enough choice” and the “type of food on offer” (combined 32% of respondents). There were other reasons including not being accessible to all (15%) and the ambience (12%), however none thought the tariff too expensive. 95% of respondents indicated that they would be more likely to use the 1st Level restaurant if their concerns were addressed. 6. The speed of service can be improved, by taking orders more promptly and ensuring the existing offer can be turned around more quickly through some pre-preparation. Sodexho have been instructed and improvement will be monitored. 7. The speed of service can further be improved by introducing a range of pre-prepared snacks, such as sandwiches, salads and quiche (soup is already on offer) and this would also address the second concern of the range of choice and type of food on offer. We suggest that this be restricted, at least initially, to the bar and that the restaurant itself should remain more formal. The SPCB is invited to agree to introduce snacks etc in the bar. 8. The other suggestions offered by the Members (eg souvenir menus etc) will be considered and taken forward with Sodexho where appropriate. We will also press Sodexho to come up with ideas on how to improve the food and encourage people to wish to come to their restaurant. Evening 9. The 1st Level Restaurant is used less in the evening, and the biggest reason given (36%) was that Members are not around. The other concerns were wide ranging, but there was no large single issue and concerns in general were comparatively low compared to the lunch time service. Their concerns included accessibility, ambience and food offer and 85% of the respondents indicated that they would be more likely to use the 1st Level restaurant if their concerns were addressed. Most of the concerns (access, ambience) are covered in this paper and those that are not will be discussed with Sodexho to action where appropriate. Access 10. The 1st Level Restaurant can be divided into 3 separate areas, and can potentially form a Bar and snack area, a formal dining area and a Members only (no guests) area or some other combination or usage. However 90% of the respondents indicated that they did not want a Members only (no guests) area. Members commented on the formality of the Restaurant and lack of an informal bar area. Sub-division and softer furnishings in the bar could allow it to be more relaxed while retaining the formality in the restaurant. Draught
beer was also suggested and this is being investigated, with early indications that one or 2 beer taps may be possible. 11. We therefore recommend that the area should be semi permanently divided into the restaurant and bar (the partition can always be removed for large functions) and that we explore softer furnishings for the bar area. We will also explore with Sodexho (whose in-house team includes expertise from the hotel industry) and others how to make the whole area more “cosy” (eg flowers, plants, lighting etc). In the light of the survey results, there appears to be no need to create a Members only area at the far end (although this could be part of the solution to the Chamber Coffee Bar issue). Having the end partition up permanently does spoil the view for those in the middle section. The SPCB is invited to agree to separate the bar, and to consider whether to create a third private area. 12. Depending on the decision above, the SPCB may wish to consider whether the access arrangement should remain the same. 13. There were strong views on both sides but more Members indicated in the comments box that they preferred to continue with the current access arrangements. Options for consideration are to allow wider access to the bar area, or in the evenings. But it might be better to wait and see how the changes affect usage before making any changes. The SPCB is invited to decide whether any changes should be made to the access policy. Subsidy Effect 14. If the main concerns of the Members are addressed, then the indication from the catering questionnaire is that the 1st Level Restaurant usage should increase. It is, however, extremely difficult to estimate what this increase could be. 15. The table below demonstrates the effect on subsidy of a 10% and 20% increase on the actual sales for November, both with and without an increase in labour costs. Projected Income 12821 n/a n/a n/a Actual Income 13159 14475 15791 15791 Approximate Costs 17197 17855 18511 19475 Subsidy (Loss) 4038 3380 2720 3684
November +10% no extra staff +20% no extra staff +20% + one extra staff
16. This shows that an increase in demand would not be matched by a corresponding reduction in subsidy, since there would be increased food costs and possibly increased labour costs. Additionally, if an increase in sales in
the 1st Level Restaurant was at the expense of sales in the Garden Level Restaurant, it is possible that costs would merely be moved from one area to another. Tariffs 17. Another way of reducing subsidy would be to increase prices. The tariffs were, however, only recently agreed by the SPCB and it is probably too early to re-visit them, given limited financial data and price was not an issue in questionnaire responses. Tariffs are normally reviewed at the beginning of each calendar year and any agreed changes implemented by 1 April. We therefore recommend that they are not changed at this time. Does the SPCB agree? Marketing 18. To further increase usage of the 1st Level Restaurant, we propose to work closely with Sodexho’s Marketing Manager. Initial proposals they have suggested include: • • • • Fliers to all Members Advertising on menus (sponsored corporate guests) Souvenirs for guests Promotions
This work is at a very early stage and needs further consideration, and will have a bearing on the events policy. Restaurant Name 19. Since the SPCB decided to keep access under review, the temporary name which has been adopted in and around the restaurant is “1st Level Restaurant” although in the directional signage it is called “Members (sic) Restaurant”. We agree with comments from users that this gives an indistinct feeling to the area. The SPCB is invited to consider, in the light of its decision on access, what it should be called. The catering Questionnaire has come up with a number of suggestions, but by far the most popular name is the “Members’ Restaurant” and even if access is opened up to all, this name could still be used, as this makes it special for visitors. On the other hand, this could be seen to be exclusive. The SPCB is invited to consider and to agree a name. Coffee Lounge 20. A few Members have suggested that the Chamber Conference Room adjacent to the Chamber should be used as a coffee lounge on Chamber sitting days, to replicate the lounge at the back of the Assembly Hall. It is felt that this would enable more interaction among Members, and enable them to be nearer the Chamber. It was agreed that there would be no coffee lounge in the Conference Room initially, but that the situation would be monitored.
There has been no significant pressure for one. Having said that, Members have not been asked, and there have been no long stage 3s. One option would be to book the room and provide coffee on stage 3 days. 21. The Chamber Conference Room has been fitted out specifically as a press conference room with a good deal of electronic equipment. There is a small area behind the screen, but it is too small to be practical as a lounge. If tea and coffee were provided free in the Conference Room, this would have an effect, albeit minor, on the income in other coffee bars. 22. The Members’ Restaurant, which also serves coffee, is only a short walk away at the end of the link bridge. There is an area of lounge seating just outside the restaurant in the upper foyer. The small area at the far end of the restaurant could also be partitioned off to create a Members’ only lounge. 23. The SPCB is invited to consider whether the Chamber Conference Room should be used as a coffee lounge. Catering User Advisory Group 24. The SPCB asked us to consider creating a Catering User Advisory Group. While such a Group would be one way of gathering opinions and communicating with users, it would be important to ensure that it did not become a vehicle for specific complaints. It would also be important to emphasise that any Group would be advisory only and that any recommendations that involved policy change or significant additional expenditure would have to be referred to the SPCB. There is therefore scope for conflict with the SPCB. A suggested membership and remit of the User Group is attached at Annex D. The SPCB is invited to consider whether a Catering User Advisory Group should be established. Resource Implications 25. There will be no resource implications regarding the setting up of a Catering User Advisory Group or the naming of the bar, with the exception of some minor costs for possible signage alterations. Opening the Restaurant to all users, and addressing the Members concerns may lead to modest savings. Sub-division of the restaurant will only have costs, if alternative furniture is provided to the bar area. Providing a coffee lounge will have costs, but these would not be substantial. Next Steps 26. If the SPCB agree any policy changes to the 1st Level Restaurant and decide on the formation of a Catering User Advisory Group, then these decisions will be implemented as soon as possible.
DECISION 27. The SPCB is invited to: • • • • • • • Agree to introduce snacks etc in the bar. Agree to separate the bar and to consider whether to create a third private area. Consider whether any changes should be made to the access policy. Agree that it is too early to review the prices in the 1st Level Restaurant. Agree a name for the Restaurant and Bar. Consider whether the Chamber Conference Room should be used as a coffee lounge. Consider whether a Catering User Advisory Group should be established.
Technology & Facilities Management Directorate December 2004
ANNEX B - Use of 1st Level Restaurant W/C - 06/09/2004 Lunch Mon 35 Tue 82 Wed 76 Thu 45 Fri 48 Total 286 W/C - 04/10/2004 Lunch Mon 20 Tue 14 Wed 28 Thu 52 Fri Closed Total 114 W/C - 01/11/2004 Lunch Dinner Mon 32 13 Tue 28 19 Wed 41 14 Thu 52 0 Fri 58 34 Total 211 80
Dinner 7 22 16 22 36 103
Dinner 9 11 19 Closed Closed 39
W/C - 13/09/2004 Lunch Mon 35 Tue 38 Wed 54 Thu 45 Fri 30 Total 202
Dinner 9 25 50 11 12 107
W/C - 11/10/2004 Lunch Mon 24 Tue 35 Wed 40 Thu 10 Fri 30 Total 139
Dinner Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed 0
W/C - 08/11/2004 Lunch Dinner Mon 38 4 Tue 17 12 Wed 45 33 Thu 60 0 Fri Function 20 Total 160 69
W/C - 20/09/2004 Lunch Mon 18 Tue 13 Wed 50 Thu 82 Fri 24 Total 187
Dinner 8 6 12 9 6 41
W/C - 18/10/2004 Lunch Mon 17 Tue 14 Wed 34 Thu 30 Fri 50 Total 145
Dinner Closed Closed Closed Closed Closed 0
W/C - 15/11/2004 Lunch Dinner Mon 47 23 Tue 43 19 Wed 32 24 Thu 63 18 Fri 37 53 Total 222 137
W/C - 27/09/2004 Lunch Mon 16 Tue 13 Wed 22 Thu 59 Fri 38 Total 148
Dinner 21 17 26 13 31 108
W/C - 25/10/2004 Lunch Mon 15 Tue 36 Wed 23 Thu 54 Fri 54 Total 182
Dinner 2 32 26 7 35 102
W/C - 22/11/2004 Lunch Dinner Mon 51 0 Tue 33 5 Wed 31 8 Thu 72 35 Fri Function 22 Total 187 70
Original tendered budgets were based on 240 lunch covers/week and 90 dinner covers/week.
ANNEX D 1. If the SPCB wish to proceed to establish a Catering User Advisory Group, membership would need to be clearly defined to ensure that Members, their staff, Parliament staff and catering personnel were all represented, as well as those covering the interests of visitors. Each of the main parties and each Directorate would be invited to nominate someone, meaning a membership of around 10, and we propose that the Group could be chaired by the Director of Technology and Facilities Management. Should a member of the SPCB (possibly the portfolio member) sit on the Group? 2. The Media does not need to be represented, as there are already good channels of communication between the SPJA and our Media Office. 3. The main functions of the Group, which would meet on a monthly basis, would be to: Provide a communication channel to promote catering matters for the personnel represented by Group members. Review the results of monitoring undertaken by FM as part of Contractor Performance Management. Consider suggestions to enhance the catering service and where practical to have these implemented via Facilities Management.