Catering Plus is a social enterprise which is operating in a deficit, therefore, putting employment of clients at risk.
Provide as many meaningful employment opportunities as possible to caterers (i.e. clients).
By March 31, 2018, Catering Plus will be operating as a sustainable business. Financial statements and charting will be used to measure a balanced or surplus budget by reducing catering costs from 116 percent to 90 percent. Employment opportunities will be maximized in a predictable way.
EQIP Support to the Project
- QI coach: Linda Saunders
- Data Coach: Nicole Adkin
Catering Plus is an organization that creates employment for those with lived experience in the mental health system and/or barriers to employment. The funding provided by the LHIN does not cover all costs (including client wages) and the overall program has to be self-funded or revenue neutral. As a social enterprise, Catering Plus is quite distinct among the EQIP projects. With the risk of sustainability to the program, the EQIP QI support was a welcome contribution.
They started by tracking down some key data points – food cost percentage, labour cost percentage and net sales chart. When those data points were put on a run chart, the large inconsistencies, challenges and opportunities became evident.
A team comprised of caterers, the chef, the small business assistant, program manager, the improvement advisor and the data coach met and put the Root Cause Tool to use. They started with a process map that identified 19 pain points that required further analysis. They prioritized these using a “dotmocracy.”
High labour costs was a top pain point they chose to explore further. As a root cause, they identified that some of the caterers struggled to start their shifts independently, resulting in longer shifts and inefficiencies. The group completed a Fishbone diagram, the 5 Whys process and a driver diagram to understand this better.
After discovering a variety of possible reasons for this problem, the team used the Driver Diagram process to identify the following primary drivers of what the caterers needed to be able to start independently. These included:
• They have all of the information that they need
• They have confidence to start on their own
• All groceries and supplies are available for the job
• The workspace is clean and prepped
Ultimately, they identified a number of change activities that led to 13 PDSA – Plan, Do, Study, Act – cycles. The focus was on how to lower food and labour costs to operate sustainably, better support and prepare the caterers in their role, and create efficiencies in operation. Change ideas explored included:
- Price changes to menu
- First cook position put in place, to increase efficiency and provide mentorship
- Scheduling calculator for predictable staff and food costs
- Food labelling/fridge journaling
- Updating “how-to” instruction sheets
- Sourcing different grocery stores, bulk buying and time of grocery shopping
[sidenote]”I now recognize the importance of taking the time to use the data.”[/sidenote] For Sandy Woodhouse, the project lead, this process was incredibly insightful. As she says, “I now recognize the importance of taking the time to use the data. What we discovered was that there’s no magic bullet to solve the challenges, but there are things we can do – and the visual diagrams are helpful in identifying challenges and opportunities. Most importantly, we can never forget about the people side of change – this takes time and patience.”
At Catering Plus, the opportunity to participate in and learn from the EQIP initiative may truly be the difference between being employed or unemployed for people in their region living with mental health challenges or barriers to employment. This is a powerful example of the life-changing impact that a focus on Quality Improvement can have on people’s lives.