Clarion Group Reinforces Belief in Thorough Contracts for Food Service Management

March 31, 2015


“The contract between a client and a food service contractor should be a guide and roadmap governing the relationships and the services the contractor is providing,” says Tom Mac Dermott, president of Clarion Group, a consulting firm advising companies, colleges and institutions in the management of their on-site food services and hospitality operations.  “Don’t just sign, file and forget it.”

“If your contract was well-crafted, it will spell out the responsibilities of both parties, including the quality of meals other products, service expectations and financial arrangements in clear and unambiguous language,” he says.

During the negotiating process for the food service account of a potential client, the contractor’s representative often will agree to certain conditions it has no intention of fulfilling, according to Mac Dermott.  “Typically, these involve financial reporting requirements and often, cleaning and sanitation requirements,” he says.  “If you’re not alert and aware of the contractor’s agreed obligations, you won’t be aware that they’re being ignored.”

“In our practice, we often find that contract terms are being ignored by the operator and the client is unaware that it’s happening,” Mac Dermott says.  “Most frequently, the violation are in financial reporting: promised monthly operating statements are incomplete or not submitted at all.  In other cases, terms of the operation, like hours of service and price schedules have been ignored.”

“When we identify this slippage, we advise and participate with our client in confronting the operator and requiring enforcement of the ignored contract terms,” he said.

All food service companies have their “standard contracts” that they expect you to sign.  “Don’t do it,” Mac Dermott advises.  “They’re incomplete, one sided and not in your favor.”

Typically, he says, a contractor-drafted agreement described the client’s responsibilities in detail and the contractor’s in generalities, such as “provide housekeeping in designated areas” and is silent on such important subjects as the quality of meals, food safety, care of equipment and employee selection, training and discipline.  Financial commitments are vague or omitted.

“At Clarion Group, we prepare and negotiate operating agreements with food service contractors on our clients’ behalf and with their full participation,” Mac Dermott says.  “The result is a workable agreement that’s fair to both parties and ensures our client’s interests are fully protected.”

“Once the contract’s signed, the client’s responsibility is to ensure the contractor’s commitments are kept, he added.  “We work with clients after the new service has begun to ensure the service is provided as promised within the agreed financial parameters.”    


About Clarion Group

Clarion Group is an consulting firm that advises companies, professional firms, colleges and universities, independent schools and institutions in the management, operation and improvement of  their in-house employee/student food services, catering, conference, lodging and related hospitality services throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For information, contact:

Tom Mac Dermott, FCSI, President

Clarion Group

PO Box 158, Kingston, NH 03848-0158

603/642-8011 or


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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