Why the New CEO Didn’t Get His Breakfast

The new CEO came to the office early on his first day on the job, expecting the breakfast he had ordered would be waiting. It wasn’t. He was not pleased.

After an angry phone call, the breakfast was produced. This gaffe was not the first, but the most spectacular, in a series of catering foul-ups. Clarion was asked to investigate, find the source of the problem and provide solutions.

We spent two days on-site, observing the catering service and interviewing the food service contractor’s managers and the company’s event coordinators (who handle space reservations and order catering and other services).

What We Found: The catering department was not well organized to handle the volume of business. The daily small services were in the hands of the wait staff without supervision. The food service office was unstaffed and the food service was not connected to the company’s internal e-mail system.

The event coordinator received an order by phone or e-mail, wrote it on a form and delivered it by hand to the catering office, a 20-minute round trip. If e-mail wasn’t available, why not fax the orders? The food service’s fax machine didn’t work.

Catering orders were received in the catering department, which had a kitchen, but the orders were sent to the staff café on another floor to be filled, then returned to the catering department to be delivered.

It wasn’t surprising that orders were missed, late or incorrect.


  • The company should install conference management software, readily available from numerous vendors. Until then, replace the broken fax machine.
  • The contractor must add a full-time person to its office to handle catering orders.
  • All catering orders must be prepared in the catering kitchen.
  • The small-services supervisor cannot be assigned to other duties, especially in the busy midday period.

Our recommendations were adopted, and most complaints ceased.

Clarion’s Contribution: We saw what was wrong and discussed the solutions candidly with both the contractor’s regional vice president and company management. Our solutions were simple and easy to implement.

We tailor our efforts to fit your situation.

Talk to us about your vision for your food service operation — Contact Clarion Group

Food Service Consultants
P.O. Box 158,
Kingston, NH 03848-0158

Phone: (603) 642-8011   
Fax: (603) 642-7744

Offering food service management consulting, hospitality services consulting, sustainable dining facility design. Nationwide food service consultants.

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