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As an independent, what can you offer the B&I market that the larger companies can’t?

In today’s hugely competitive environment, original ideas, free thinking and entrepreneurial behaviour drive success. Being innovative requires freedom, which only companies like ours have because we are independent caterers. Our flat and uncomplicated structure gives us a unique advantage. We are managed via founders Wendy, Ian and David – not a remote board with little knowledge of our clients’ needs ā€“ and easy access to Directors means decisions are made quickly.

The word independent is used to describe our company status but the advantages are much more than this. It’s about our people; as an independent contract caterer we attract a different kind of talent. People choose to work for bartlett mitchell because they value independence, empowerment and entrepreneurship. They are happy to be accountable and love working for a company where their contribution is visible and recognised, and where the Directors know everyone’s name.

Ideas are welcomed and if it adds value, it can be in the business within days. Our compact size gives us greater agility to do this so, for example, we are far faster at being able to respond to food trends and take advantage of advancements in technology. Therefore, there is a direct line between peoples’ efforts and the business’ success and growth.

Financially, we are not driven by quarterly results. We can do whatā€™s best for our clients and team members because we are the shareholders with no need for approval from external investors. We can take calculated risks and have greater pricing flexibility. We work with clients who share our values and choose the right partners who we know will deliver and be best fit. This also means that we have the freedom to reinvest our profits into the development of our team to improve our capability rather than being delivered back to a parent company or shareholders.

We live or die by our delivery; we are acutely aware that the loss of any client would be a severe blow to our business compared to a larger company where it would be a drop in the ocean. This keeps us focused on doing a great job all the time and is one of the reasons we have such a high client retention rate of 97%.

Ultimately, being independent gives us agility and the freedom to be an entrepreneurial company, able to move swiftly to respond to clients’ needs, and our team members tell us it’s because of this that we deliver a better service.

The above appeared in B&I Catering, October 2015. You can download the full article here

Francois Gautreaux
Managing Director