Frequently asked questions

Why a five day lead time?

This was carefully considered, in collaboration with an operational excellence review of our processes. We found that having a lead time of less than five days meant that several departments had to duplicate multiple processes. The agreed five day lead time means more efficient rota planning and better ordering processes that will help staff deliver a better service to the College. Without the five day lead time the menu costs would increase substantially. 

Can it be 3 days?

The detailed work we have undertaken over the course of the last year, and later agreed by the Provost and Chief Financial Officer, has shown that a five day lead time is the most efficient way to keep menu costs low whilst maintaining a cost neutral service. 

Why can’t tea and coffee bookings be exempt from the five day lead time?

For the same reasons as above. The specific item ordered doesn’t affect the cost of the service - on the purchasing team, the staff rotas and the planning of the events. Tea and coffee bookings account for a large proportion of our most popular bookings so actually impact the most on some of the issues highlighted above.

Why can’t we make changes to numbers unless it’s 5 days or more in advance?

Same as above. Any changes require amending orders on the system and also changing rota’s. 

We don’t have hospitality cards. How do we get one, where can we get more information?

Information to follow further to consultation with College procurement under the expenses policy.

Why is the minimum spend £35

The disentanglement of all commercial activities from Campus Services to the Office for Financial Strategy means that we are no longer subsidised by the commercial revenue.  The ‘true cost’ of providing our service will be passed on directly.   

Why have the menu prices changed?

All of our new menus have been calculated at cost price. We are not for profit. The menu prices are made up of the food cost, labour costs and our on-costs (such as space charges, FM recharges, equipment maintenance and replacement etc. etc.). Some menu prices have come down and some have gone up, but these are the true costs of delivering this service. 

Can we collect catering rather than pay the minimum spend?

Unfortunately not. We do not have enough space or equipment within Catering & Events that would allow for such a system to be in place. Further, there are important health & safety considerations that would not allow for a constant stream of College staff visiting catering areas to collect their orders. Strict hygiene and access controls must be maintained. Some costs associated with bookings remain regardless of whether you could collect in person or not e.g. we still have costs associated with getting the catering booked, ordered and prepared.

Can the new web system allow repeat or copied deliveries?

Yes it can. We have designed the system to save you time. It also allows you to have ‘favourites’. It shows you all your previous bookings allowing you to copy bookings over, and just change the dates.  

Will bookings that have already been made (under the £35 minimum spend) be honoured?

All bookings will be honoured but the ‘true cost’ will be charged from when the new system becomes fully functional (estimated 1st Nov 2017). Any bookings in Webroom made prior to the 1st Nov will be honoured until 31st December 2017. 

Can I order tea and coffee for small numbers?

Yes you can place an order for a tea and coffee delivery for less than 15 people but you will be charged the minimum £35 service charge to cover the direct labour. 

Is there any reason these changes weren’t discussed with us earlier?

The changes are a direct result of a complete review of all operational areas across Campus Services, looking at logistics, related College policies, our service offer and internal processes. This detailed work, undertaken closely with Operational Excellence colleagues, was supported by the CFO and later approved by the Provost. Only once approval was obtained at the 2017 Planning Round could we communicate these changes. 

Are these changes applicable to Charing Cross and Hammersmith campuses?

Yes, they are. However, anyone wishing to book catering at these sites should continue doing so by using the med catering email address. We are working with ICT to explore whether the new Web Catering ordering system can be rolled out to other campuses in the future and we will keep staff at Charing Cross and Hammersmith updated with any progress made. 

Do external events have to adhere to the same rules on the 5 day lead time?

Yes they do. The lead time, and minimum numbers will apply to all bookings. 

Will the college approve the use of external caterers?

The College permits the use of external caterers at sites without a delivered catering service (e.g. St Marys).