Café Services Increases Corporate Dining Participation 200% at Element Fleet in Sparks, MD
Table of Contents:
- Increasing Corporate Food Service Value
- One-Stop Corporate Dining Management Choice
- Keep It Local for Best Food Quality
- A Lot of Variety with Food Service Management
- Cafeteria Management Staff Encouraged to be Creative
- Benefits of Partnering with Café Services for Food Management Services
- Looking Forward with Corporate Food Service Management Company
When a leading global fleet management service and commercial vehicle financing company wanted to increase corporate food service value at their Sparks, Maryland headquarters, it turned to food service management company, Café Services.
Since June 2015, Café Services, a company specializing in food management service, has enabled Element Fleet to significantly improve their business dining participation by offering quality food for 1,000+ employees at exceptional prices. At the same time, Café Services has helped Element lower their food subsidy costs by 25%.
In addition, Element increased cafeteria sales more than 30% and corporate catering sales improved by 12% by switching to Café Services, compared to sales with their previous vendor.
By offering quality corporate food service and great food options at more than competitive prices, Café Services has helped Element keep employees in the building for breakfast and lunch. Element employees now consider Element Café the go-to business dining venue of choice.
As a Café Services partner, Element enables employees to purchase delicious food and meals for a fraction of the price they’d pay at a restaurant. As an example, Element Café’s chef manager John Litchfield said, “If you come into my café and get a handmade burger, fries, and a drink it’ll cost $6; whereas anywhere else, it would cost $15.”
Element employees find value in being able to have easy access to food that lines up with their tastes and dietary preferences. They also benefit from not having to spend their lunch and break time driving to find food; they can eat food they really enjoy, relax, and network with each other while dining on site.
Café Services enables their chefs to be creative and offer personalized customer service for each location. Element Fleet is in Sparks, Maryland, so Café Services employs chefs from that area who know the food, people, vendors, and so on to work at Element Café.
Foods are locally sourced through a food service company (Sysco) from the eastern shore of Maryland. Local farms have a lot to offer and the produce company (Hearn Kirkwood) lets John know on a weekly basis where produce is from. An example includes knowing that the just-received collard greens had been picked the day before from Papa John’s Farm in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Other companies, such as bakeries and bread makers are selected separately and John collaborates with the corporate office on those decisions.
Element Café’s business dining food options include a salad bar, an entrée station, a grab-and-go station (premade hot entrees), a grill station, and a deli station.
The salad bar is one of the biggest lunch sellers as it is stocked with fruits, greens, and proteins.
The grab-and-go station includes three popular pasta dishes: one with beef meatballs, one with grilled chicken, and one vegetable only. Beef stew and chicken pot pies are also popular items that employees select.
Element Café also offers a “FitPicks” menu, where all entrees available are 600 calories or under. A big seller at this Maryland location is grilled chicken Caesar salad. John said, “Rather than have the customer get it off the salad bar, which offers the same ingredients, we put it together for them. They can grab it, go to the cashier, and be out the door in a couple of minutes. It’s one of the only things we have recipes for and nothing on that menu is above 600 calories.”
The variety of food meets the employees’ needs – many people may say they want to eat healthy, but not everyone does, so there are always choices available. As examples, the morning fare includes low-fat, sugar-free, and regular muffins along with donuts, scones, and buttery croissants. In the afternoon, at the grill, there is the standard choices of burgers, cheese steaks, and chicken tenders, but also “grill and greens,” such as a piece of fresh tuna on mixed greens with salad toppings.
Another way Café Services shines is by enabling their chef managers and staff to retain their creativity. The corporate office offers monthly food special and on-site promotions but allows every chef manager to come up with their own creative ways in how to offer the specials and promotions to their particular site.
John and his staff can expand on a theme given by corporate as they feel is appropriate. The chefs have the freedom to do what is local for them and what they know customers are going to recognize and enjoy.
“They let me run my own business,” John said of corporate, “And as a chef and as a manager, it’s a great feeling to know that when we’re giving good customer service and we have a good product, they let us run with our ideas. It makes customers happy when you’re passionate about what you are doing.”
Clients work directly with the on-site chef manager regarding new products or concepts they’d like to try; and implementation can be quick since communication is streamlined with the corporate Café Services office.
John and his staff create new weekly menus for Element. John collaborates with the corporate office on what to serve, what items to purchase, and so on for various promotions.
The special promotions, including ‘Opening Day’ and ‘Monday Night Football,’ enable chef managers to really get creative for their locale. A ‘clam shack’ promotion, for example, can result in crab cakes, coleslaw, and hush puppies at Element Café in Maryland; and totally different options for a corporate dining room in New Hampshire.
John said, “The best thing about these promos is that they include a line that says: Have fun with it prepare what your customers want, and feel free to make additions to the menu.”
Element Café chefs enjoy receiving special requests for such things as birthdays, retirements, and other celebrations and events. In August, there is a team meeting, called Campfire Chat. The café has been asked to do s’mores for the event. S’mores aren’t on the catering menu, but Café Services chefs accommodate any kind of request they receive. Favorite house-made dessert requests include chocolate-dipped strawberries and chocolate-dipped cookies.
Corporate catering is handled by Café Services, too. Element Café manages on-site catering for business meetings and special occasions, as well as off-site company-related events such as the annual employee barbeque and team building events held at executives’ homes. As with the responsibility for café management, the Element Café staff handles all off-site catering needs, including food, place settings, tents, tables, chairs, setup, cleanup, and so on.
Café Services helps Element increase food sales and keep the food service budget in line. By offering the amenity of good food at very reasonable prices, Element encourages employees to stay onsite and eat in the café.
Food waste is kept to a minimum through tracking of food use, entrée counts, and the old-fashioned method of walking around and keeping an eye on what is selling and what is not.
Always looking to improve, Element Fleet is in the early planning stages of a café redesign. Although the cafeteria is working well now, there are ways to improve the space to make it more efficient to reduce customer wait times. Element and Café Services will work together on those changes and continue to encourage growth through corporate catering at the site.
Along with monthly trainings for his Element Café staff, John also subscribes to different foodie magazines that are delivered to the unit so everyone can stay up on current trends in the food industry and keep their creative edge and continue to improve their food service management that makes Element Café the employees’ go-to dining option.