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System Catering
System catering

"The system fails if there is a black sheep"

Our food culture is changing. Even restaurateurs are sitting up and taking notice. System catering is gaining ground. Brigitte Jung, Service Manager at "Jülich Research Centre" talks in an interview about the difference between system catering and individual restaurateurs and points out related advantages and disadvantages. She also points out international differences and problems faced by restaurateurs.

Brigitte Jung
Brigitte Jung

What advantages does system catering have over individual restaurateurs?

The advantages of system catering are numerous. The establishments need fewer skilled employees because all work steps are well documented. Due to this fact, the familiarisation process is a lot quicker and staff expenditure is reduced. As a result of clear work steps, service operations can be taken over by student employees.

Does system catering offer other economic benefits?

Absolutely. A central office undertakes and coordinates, for instance, joint marketing of individual system catering establishments. Nowadays, it can be very time consuming and expensive if you want to present a professional image. Just think of a big fast food chain that reinvented itself through affiliated cafés a few years ago. This is almost impossible for individually owned and managed establishments. Resources can be easily saved also in the areas of administration, accounting, and controlling.

Are there any disadvantages that result from being in such an alliance with other companies?

Of course. There is a flip side to the coin. The biggest disadvantage is that as system catering you are always dependent on how well the concept is implemented by all establishments within the system. Even if an individual establishment fulfils all the requirements excellently and adheres to the standards, it will fail if there are "black sheep" in the system. This happened to another big fast food chain two years ago. Several establishments had to be closed after the scandal and the company has not recovered from this so far.

Despite careful planning, are there any recognisable differences on international level in the implementation of concepts for system catering?

You will hardly find any recognisable differences within a concept for system catering on an international level. However, the concepts in different countries are adapted generally to suit local tastes. For instance, you find a much higher percentage of steak houses and fast food chains in the USA, while in Germany it is more common to gain a foothold in the industry with full-service concepts.

What kind of problems do individual restaurateurs struggle with today?

Individual restaurateurs are facing increasing costs. Declaring additives and allergens alone requires a great deal of effort today. This information has to be very accurate as there is a risk that a guest suffering from food allergy or food intolerance could get sick. One mistake and financial ruin for the individual restaurateur is inevitable.

Header photo: © Kzenon - Fotolia.com

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