Third and last day in London.
Too bad, I must confess that I was really enjoying it, and JD was a very special host. We got on really well and share the same “passion” for great foodservice.
I was really happy when JD asked me to act as a photographer (my other passion) during our first morning meeting: ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Harrods huge distribution center in Thatcham, which hosts a staff canteen, that according to the management, has to be improved.
Food is all around: the need for a foodservice consultant is not limited only to the restaurant business, and this site was a great example.
Harrods staff canteen in Thatcham showed a very large seating area, while the area dedicated to the self-service counter, to the food, is pretty oppressive. I found the green hospital-style colored walls and other details not that appropriate for the case. While I was absorbed with my photography task, JD asked my advice about how to create a more welcoming and functional environment. Based both on my first impression and on my experience, I immediately suggested three changes.
The first one: change the color of the walls! Color is very important, leads to a better experience, especially in an environment where you eat and you are supposed to spend relaxing time each day.
The second change: switch the location of the dirty trays trolley from the entrance of the food area to the vending machines area or to a more secluded area. It is not really nice to be welcomed by dirty trays in an area where you are going to eat food.
Third change: the creation of a dedicated area for those people who wanted to eat home-made food. I noticed that there were several people eating meals from Tupperware, stored in the refrigerator and then heated in microwave ovens. That was a great example of culture and freedom of choice, but I found more appropriate not to mix the two different kind of meal consumption – homemade and purchased at the canteen – therefore I recommended to create a separate area for the homemade meals consumption.
JD agreed, sharing my insights with the canteen’s manager. It was very rewarding to have given the opportunity to give my contribution.
This experience once again confirmed my opinion about the need to create better canteens in Italian companies too, where often pasta is offered too much and the interior design is not studied or considered at all. It looks like eating in an appropriate and comfortable environment is not that important to the employers as it is for the employees productivity.
After the meeting at Harrods, it was time to thank JD for his hospitality. I made the most of what I saw, now being able to offer to my clients around the world, new and exciting ideas. We both got a lot out of our “exchange”.
I spent the last hours of the day at Westfield London, a huge shopping center where I enjoyed acting as a mystery shopper, checking the organization, service, value, hygiene and courtesy of the shopping center various eateries. I must admit I found some very interesting concepts, as the following photos.
My London experience was positive: I learned a lot and this renewed my desire to bring back to Italy such professionalism and attention to details, skills that only an professional consultant has, moved our love for food, in all its forms and its implications.
Contrary to what you might think, Italy is a very difficult market, where professional foodservice consultants have to prove each and every day to entrepreneurs that there is a great difference between the service – and the consequence and outcome in terms of profit, provided by a professional and the service provided by an “extempore” professional. The two are very different.
I am really interested to know whether this kind of challenge does exist in other countries too, and how you deal with it as foodservice professional consultant. Please leave your comments. Thanks!