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Last year, the business development team at Hampshire County Council Catering Services' (HC3S) introduced a new concept to staff through its closed Facebook group. It aimed to build on the success of its customer Facebook page, which was launched in autumn 2017, when it realised that its success in marketing to and communicating with parents could be replicated with its staff, no matter how remote they are.
The public page of HC3S employs Facebook as an integral part of its customer acquisition strategy. It provides parents with meaningful information about school meals to encourage them to buy into the service as the better option for their child's school lunch, and inspires colleagues to improve the quality of food and service for pupils. The idea is to nudge parents towards making positive choices as a family, when eating at school or at home, linking to the national healthy strategy.
The staff Facebook page provides an equally valuable tool for remote kitchen teams, who previously didn't have electronic means of communication. Staff are now both informed and entertained; they can interact and connect.
The interaction doesn't stop at colleagues either, since the school cooks have now set up a subgroup page to run after school cookery clubs. By building this community with parents and schools, HC3S is breaking down the divide between parents and professionals and integrating them into its world.
The HC3S Facebook staff group has ballooned to more than 870 staff, 80% of which are active users of Facebook, most of whom access it via its mobile app.
Meanwhile, with 3,300 followers on its public site, HC3S claims to have more Facebook fans and engagement than any other school caterer in the UK. This base has been built from scratch by the two-strong business development team, achieving phenomenal levels of growth in only five academic terms. The interaction allows HC3S to provide first-class customer service 24/7, ensuring a speedy response to 100% of its customers.
Analysis of the caterer's Facebook engagement numbers has also allowed HC3S to tailor its messages to reach different demographics: from the parent who has a squeezed budget; to the ethical shopper; to the busy family juggling a career; to those with a desire for a healthy lifestyle; or parents whose child may follow a particular diet.
As more schools embrace Facebook, this has become the caterer's preferred way of communicating with its existing and future customers to ensure they understand how good its meals are and why they should choose them over packed lunches.
Meanwhile, the staff group page has had significant growth and high levels of engagement, improving morale, offering opportunities to network and improve performance, ultimately benefiting the pupils it serves.
Gather & Gather
Hampshire County Council Catering Services (HC3S)
2018 Elior UK
2017 Derbyshire County Council
2016 ISS Food and Hospitality
2015 Andy Jones ISS Healthcare and the Hospital Caterers Association
2014 The Genuine Dining Co
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