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Keep It Simple

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Wendy writes a quarterly article for The Caterer, in this article she talks about keeping things simple.

When I started out as a caterer, I really thought catering is literally all that I would be doing. Frying an egg, baking a cake, rolling some pastry then selling it to somebody who would buy it and eat it. Simple.        

But oh, how so wrong can one be. Some things have become so complicated.

I’m all for giving people choice but sometimes it feels like we’re making things far too difficult just for the sake of it.

In bartlett mitchell business, our fundamentals are pretty much the same as when we started, as are our values. It’s all about keeping it simple. If it works, why change anything?

As my team know, I’m not (so bm isn’t) into overcomplicated food – I want to know that my food tastes as stated on menu and not have 12 hours of manhandling. We often see so much fuss being made of food. If you have great ingredients and have it cooked by a well-trained chef – you will be making something delicious. It’s really as simple as that.

Outside of the cooking, operations have changed so much too. Being a catering manager, it used to be all about the food. Now the poor souls have to risk assess, allergen police and generally act like a CEO of a large corporate with all the checking and compliance they must do. It takes away from the core role so this needs to be looked at.

This is the same with people and service. I always believe in keeping it real. It’s better to focus on the simple elements in life – i.e. go and say hello to someone and to smile rather than focus on some flashy whizz bang introduction or marketing gimmick. Get the basics right first.

Everyone needs solid direction and when I worked for larger caterers everything was always being reinvented and a new manual issued regularly. If what you’re doing works, why keeping changing it?

Of course, you need to drive trends but not for the sake of it. Change should only happen if it makes things better.


When I am Prime Minister I will…

I have a saying that, ‘when I am Prime Minister I will…’ (why wouldn’t you vote for me I’d do as bad a job as anyone!) which I use when it comes to some simple day to day things that I’d like to see changed (the use of demi tasse cups at events being my first banned item).

It can be anything like simplifying WIFI codes – why offer me the ability to use it then make it so obscure and complicated on the code that it takes an engineer’s brain and ability to input and connect?

I also find the bathroom dance in restaurants amusing – it’s hilarious when you see people waving their hands at taps and walls just to work out how they turn on and off, and to do something simple liking getting a paper towel. A paper towel is all I wanted, not an adventure of discovery. Don’t get me started on hotel room lights!

Technology is brilliant, if it works and helps. When we go into new contracts, we never issue any systems until we have understood what’s going on with the old ones. We are an amazing at embedding technology at bartlett mitchell with apps and systems, but we will only do it if it improves the service and delivers what we state on the tin.

In our world, there is a lot of reporting required. It would be amazing if we can simplify this process. As an ‘Area Supervisor’ back in the day, I used to have do my client accounts. This consisted of 1 A4 P&L and a A4 back up sheet with a suitable amount of Tipp-Ex, and that was it. Now it’s war and peace in comparison.


Keep It Simple

So, if I were Prime Minister, vote for my manifesto of keeping it simple. There is nothing wrong with basics. Always think twice about why you’re doing something and you’ll always do well.

This article first appeared in The Caterer and the full article can be read here