In the food service management industry, you could find yourself anywhere - from feeding thousands of people at a stadium to working in a fine-dining executive staff restaurant, or even providing food for workers on a North Sea oil rig! If you want the opportunity to work in a variety of environments and have a flair for customer service, this could be the industry for you.
Food service management is classed as food provision that is outsourced to an external contractor. Some refer to this industry as 'contract catering,' but 'food and service management' is now the preferred term by many organisations. The industry currently employs around 377,200 people in the UK. Traditionally, the industry has provided food and drink, but providers are increasingly offering wider facilities management, including housekeeping services, linen and security.
Food service contracts are usually awarded through a tendering or procurement process and staff are employed by the contractor. You will be based with the client company and working in, or managing, the restaurant on their behalf.
This industry tends to have more sociable working hours than the rest of the hospitality sector - for a business or industry contract, the hours tend to be fairly traditional - 9 to 5, five days a week, plus the occasional weekend or evening for functions, while hours in the education sector can be even shorter.
Food service management providers tend to operate in the following areas:
- Health care
- Remote and offshore locations
- Corporate hospitality and executive dining
- Government and local authority provision
- Leisure venues and events (inc. concerts, regattas, sporting events as well as weddings and parties)
Food service management overlaps with other industries and there is often confusion between this and hospitality services. The key difference is ownership. If the catering is managed in-house, e.g. by a retailer or local authority, then it is 'hospitality services'. If it is outsourced to an external provider, it falls into the food service management provision category.
The industry is made up of some very large companies, such as Compass Group, Sodexo and Aramark, some medium-sized companies such as BaxterStorey and a large number of small independent caterers who provide catering for local businesses and events.
Information on careers available and new emerging jobs, transferability of skills career paths and opportunities for progression
As the food & service management industry is so wide ranging there are a wide variety of jobs covering almost all jobs you might expect from an industry rooted in hospitality and some you might not. These range from kitchen assistants and chefs through to supervisory and managerial positions.
For a lot of the 'entry-level' positions, many employers say that willingness to work hard and a good attitude are the most important things they look for. For public-facing roles, such as bar staff or waiting staff, good people skills and an appreciation of the importance of customer service are essential.
Committed workers who are willing to take on new responsibilities are most likely to progress.
Many companies find it difficult to hang on to their staff, as some employees do not stay in their job for long. Individuals who show enthusiasm and commitment to their job are often rewarded by employers with rapid progression up the ladder.
Individuals wishing to move into more senior positions are likely to require previous managerial experience and be able to display a solid understanding of the industry.
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