Caterer's Best for Business 2009 campaign has come at a tough time economically, when consumers will be watching every penny, but Elaine Higginson, managing director of First Choice Coffee, is confident that by offering a consistent quality product, independent operators can have every chance of growth.
Having looked at the properties, marketing is a key subject that virtually all the operators want to focus on over the next year, reveals Higginson.
"This is really sensible," she says, adding: "Companies that focus and invest in effective marketing are likely to come out of the recession stronger than their competitors. From our initial meetings with the operators, working with them on how to present a coffee offering is definitely high on the agenda. This will mean utilising the whole range of services we have at our disposal - from barista training and point of sale material to finding the right equipment to suit their needs."
Stephen Brecher, key account manager at First Choice Coffee, notes that because the operators involved are a diverse mix, this will mean developing tailor-made solutions. "That's a perfect fit for the way we work at First Choice Coffee," he adds.
A big concern among the operators, he's discovered, is the challenge of delivering consistency in a coffee offering, which is crucial to ensuring repeat custom.
"This will come down to giving them the tools they need to be able to produce consistently great coffee and then looking at how best to market this to their customers. The operators are all passionate about delivering a really high-quality coffee offering and we are going to work with them to make sure that this comes through in the final product."
One of Caterer's 2008 Best Places to Work in Hospitality, First Choice Coffee is ideally placed to help operators with staffing and retention issues. Laura Turrell, First Choice's HR director and former pub manager for chain JD Wetherspoon, knows only too well the challenges that operators face and is primed to help them with legislation and other HR issues.
Higginson concludes: "By focusing on added value and providing propositions that meet customers' evolving needs, hospitality businesses have an opportunity to prosper and we look forward to helping Best for Business operators grow."
|Dominic Wood with First Choice's Aimee Hughes|