According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the hospitality industry was one of the worst affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As countrywide lockdowns prohibited events and forced many public locations to close their doors, catering businesses had to await further announcements and place staff on furlough, creating a sense of uncertainty.
Now we’ve entered the ‘new normal’, it’s the perfect time to grow your company. One way to obtain more clients is to win a public sector catering tender. The public sector — for example, schools, care homes, hospitals, airports and offices — regularly outsource catering services, so plenty are available.
In this article, we’ll walk you through each step of tendering for a catering contract. We’ll also share how job management software can help you easily manage your growing business.
7 Simple Steps to Winning Catering Jobs
1. Do Your Research
Firstly, you’ll need to find a tender that’s relevant to your business. In the UK, all public tender opportunities are listed on Contracts Finder or Find a Tender, and you can search using keywords related to your services.
2. Complete the Pre-Qualification Process (PQQ)
Once you’ve selected a tender you want to apply for, you’ll need to complete the PQQ process, which involves filling out a questionnaire. The questionnaire should cover topics such as experience level, past and current clients, geographical reach, financial information and insurance details.
The answers you provide will enable the client to shortlist the suppliers that fit their requirements. All shortlisted suppliers can then officially tender for the contract, so take some time to fill out the questionnaire in detail and research the client to improve your chances of making the cut.
3. Invitation to Tender (ITT)
If you’re invited to tender for a contract catering job, the client will invite you to tender and should supply the following information:
- The scope of works
- An explanation of the tender process and instructions
- The criteria
- How they will assess applicants
However, the above list isn’t exhaustive, and some clients may require you to include more information. The client might also have a preference over the format of your response; for example, you may have to upload your answers via an online portal with a maximum word count.
4. Visit the Client’s Site
The client will likely invite all bidders to their site to outline their catering objectives and provide a tour of their facilities. You’ll have the chance to see the working environment and equipment and learn more about the services and standards required. Plus, you can gain more insight into the company’s culture and ethos, which could help you decide whether the client is a good fit for your business.
5. Write the Tender Document
Now you’re ready to begin writing your tender. Often, you’ll need to submit the tender in both hard copy and digital formats, and you will need to include the following:
- Sample menus
- Staff information
- Method statements
- Specific company policies
- Description of support resources
- Mobilisation plan
- Service innovation
- Supply chain information
- What differentiates your company from the competition
Therefore, it’s worth taking some time to review all your vital company data and highlight anything that should take priority in your answers. Remember, your responses will be more authoritative if you have accurate statistics to back them up.
With a state-of-the-art field service management platform, gathering accurate, real-time data needn’t be a headache. In fact, you’ll be able to find everything you need — from finances to staff details — in one place.
6. Prepare for a Client Visit
After the client has evaluated all tender documents, they will arrange a visit to your site. The purpose of the visit is to see your catering abilities in person. As such, you must focus on delivering excellent service. You should pay particular attention to your menu, food presentation, customer service and marketing materials.
The person visiting your site will typically be your main point of contact if you are successful. Consequently, you should aim to make them feel like you could have a good working relationship in the future.
The presentation is the final stage of the tendering process and is an opportunity to showcase your proposal in reality. It may seem as though you’re simply repeating what you already included in the written tender, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. You could lose the opportunity if you don’t go into the presentation fully armed with the correct information.
Although it’s impossible to know what the client will ask, you should know your proposal inside out, including facts and figures. Subsequently, you’ll be able to answer all questions confidently and prove to the client that you’re the best supplier for their requirements.
Field Service Management Technology Simplifies the Tendering Process
It’s no secret that catering companies have faced many difficulties in recent years. As a result, it may be tempting to forgo tendering for larger opportunities in favour of completing ‘quick win’ jobs. After all, gathering vital data to support your proposal can be time-consuming and complex.
But, in a post-COVID world, job security is essential. The best way to ensure you have a steady pipeline of work is to bid on contract catering jobs.
Fortunately, you can streamline the tendering process by equipping yourself with the crucial data you need to impress potential clients. With a job management platform such as BigChange, you can view details such as:
- Who is working for you, where, and what qualifications they hold
- Your clients and their feedback
- Your assets, equipment and stock
- Payments and outstanding invoices
- Your health and safety procedures
You’ll eliminate the need to search through spreadsheets, paper documents and various systems for crucial information. Instead, you’ll have everything you need to write a persuasive bid, plus time left over to focus on other business-critical activities.
Win More Catering Jobs with BigChange
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