SOLIHULL COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY CENTRE
-Setting up a free meals allowance system in record time for Catermasters-
As a contract catering specialist, food is at the heart of everything that Catermasters does in the restaurants, delis and coffee bars it provides to its clients across the UK.
The Catermasters brand is built on to three core values. Its approach to ingredients, people and customers is really simple, and provides a clear insight into what makes the company tick.
The founding principles of Catermasters were to bring a new level of innovation, flair and passion to the workplace foodservice industry. Almost 30 years later, this successful approach remains the same.
The company works primarily across business and industry, but over recent years it has picked up work across the education and residential sectors.
In 2015, HCM (Host Catermasters Group) and CH&Co merged to form a major player in the UK foodservice scene catering in multiple sectors from business and industry to education, heritage to visitor attractions.
Solihull College & University Centre contract
Catermasters operates the catering facilities and refectories across two sites for Solihull College & University Centre – Blossomfield and Woodlands.
The College serves approximately 4,000 students aged 16 and over, and Catermasters has a team of 25 professionals working across the two sites, from kitchen porters to front of house.
Jayne Edwards, operations manager at Catermasters, said: “September 2016 saw us launching our service provision to the College, and as you would expect, we wanted to make a big impact. We work hard to ensure that we deal with the best suppliers, from machinery and equipment, to technology and food supplies.”
Free Meals allowance
As with any educational establishment, the College offers students on lower incomes free meal allowances.
The company was keen to design and build a discreet till-based system that would support the free meals allowance transactions, where students could swipe their card without others around them being aware of the allowance.
Parent company, CH&Co Group, works closely with the point of sale software house, Lolly. On that basis, Catermasters opted to bring in Lolly to support the deployment of the free meal allowance across the two refectories – starting from September 2016. The timeframes were very tight, giving Lolly only two and a half weeks before the start of the new school term.
The daily allowance offers a maximum discount of £2.41. Working together, Lolly and Catermasters have designed a system through MiFare Classic contactless cards, enabling students to claim their daily allowance. After the discount is applied, the student will either have a zero balance or an amount to pay. They can tap their card at any time, and the ID and products and prices sold are checked against the daily allowance.
Jayne Edwards added: “We briefed Lolly in, and – amazingly – the team built the free meals system in record time, and it met the brief exactly.
“They have been extremely supportive and proactive, and the attention to detail shown has been second-to-none. As specialist suppliers to the sector, they have understood at every stage what we needed.
“And, we have been so impressed by how well the system has been developed – at all times student privacy has remained paramount.
“Another major benefit is the speed of the transactions through the Lolly till. The system has been tried and tested, and we now look forward to the second stage of the build.”
Peter Moore, CEO of Lolly, added: “Our teams worked hard to get the system up and running in as fast a time as possible, ready for the start of the new academic year.
“The system is now being developed to offer additional facilities and rules, such as promoting healthy eating, adding in multiple allowances, adding in details centred around loyalty schemes etc.”