Success on a Plate: Food Service Retailers “Bootcamp”

In my previous blog “Food Service Retailing: Cafes, Restaurants, Coffee Shops & Mobile vendors…” I talked about one of the 2 events I am involved in during May and June (Caffe Culture). In this blog I’ll share a little more about the 2nd event, “Success on a Plate” which is also aimed at the food service retailers…

What is Success on a Plate Food Bootcamp?

Success on a plate is a three day Bootcamp and is an exclusive opportunity for 30 hopeful food entrepreneurs to gain the indispensible skills they need to make their new business a success.

Expert speakers will share their knowledge and contacts. Attendees will come away with an array of new skills and ideas to get their food service retail business up and running.

The event is set in a unique and inspiring venue (Waterstones in Piccadilly) surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Central London. This three day Bootcamp is bursting with engaging presentations and interactive activities. Whether delegates dream of opening a concept restaurant, a New York-style pizzeria, a Chinese buffet, a deli for busy lunch-goers or a local coffeehouse, they can start their business here!

My Involvement: “Mystery Shopper” Meeting your customer service promises every step of the way…

I’m speaking after lunch on day 2 (full programme here!). At the end of day 1 delegates will be set an exercise which will be based on them putting themselves “in the shoes of their customer” – asking them to reflect on their own excellent and dreadful customer service experiences.

In my session, which will be a 90 minute interactive workshop (with lots to do, fast paced, high energy – because I’ve got the post-lunch time sleepy-session!), we will be focusing on treating each customer as if they were your “mystery shopper”.

We’ll reflect on what the attendees came up with as a result of the exercise and discuss the importance of “Meeting your customer service promises every step of the way.”

The overarching message will be that customers expectations are set by the impression and promises YOU give them, and YOU then must meet or exceed those promises… The session will cover practical hints & tips on getting your service promise, and delivery, spot on.

What do I know about food service retailing and mystery shopping?

The retail job I most loved, and the one I learnt the most about running a profitable retail business from, was being a McDonalds manager. I started with McDonalds when I was at college in Cambridge – I was only a crew member at the time. I never did gain all 5 stars before I left for London. I returned to work for McDonalds at the Edgware Road store, and quickly was promoted to floor manager, then shift manager. Pretty soon I become assistant store manager at the Oxford Circus branch – where taking £10K per hour at lunch time on an average order value of £2.18 was quite normal (with 20 tills open and 30 on serving alone…!)

Love it or hate it, McDonalds have developed some of the most robust and repeatable business processes which have enabled them to grow into one of the most successful and largest food service retailers on the planet. What I loved about McDonalds was the focus on the details – making sure there was consistency in customer experience. As a shift manager I was accountable for quality, service and meeting stringent food hygiene and health and safety regulations – it was fast paced, never ever the same, and incredibly good fun.

Most importantly of all, my bonus was heavily dependent on the outcome of my mystery shopper results – and thus I adopted the policy that on my shift every crew member would assume that every customer could be our mystery shopper – each one understood their importance in the “machine” which delivered on our service promise… And I am proud to say my shifts delivered some of the best mystery shopper results, not just for my store, but across all stores in the West End region! Happy days! 🙂

I hope to be able to share some of my personal experiences with the delegates at Success on a Plate food bootcamp, and, perhaps one of those attending just might be the entrepreneur behind the next global phenomenon to rival McDonald’s success!

About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
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