CRL – The First Month

The first month of CRL has thrown up many challenges and opportunities. In some areas the changes have led to very positive feedback whereas other areas have not been quite so well received.

In this article we hope to deal with the key issues that have been raised by our customers during the first month of CRL and offer answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we have received.

With regards to retail and leisure, CRL has actually reduced the prices in bars as well as offering a number of multi-buy deals.

The Heroes Bar has seen a widespread reduction in bar prices and enquiries are being made as to the possibility of putting Sky Television into the establishment.

However, there have been some questions about the impact of CRL in the bars on base; some of our customers have commented on the fact that CRL has reduced the size of spirits from 35ml to 25ml, however this is in conjunction with industry standards and is the measure for spirits that you will find in the vast majority of pubs, clubs and bars. There has also been some negative feedback relating to the temporary menu in the Heroes Bar. We are aware that this menu is far from ideal, however the food options at roll-out were constrained and the menu was introduced in order to maintain an option for food until the refurbishment takes place in August. The refurbishment will be accompanied by a new, significantly improved menu offering freshly made food of a much higher standard than has previously been provided in this area.

In addition to the changes seen in the bars, there has been an increase in deals offered in the Spar shop which are proving to be very popular with our customers. There have been numerous reductions in the prices of individual items and there is now price parity across the CRL contract within the Spar shops. The prices for items are now set by Spar itself and not by the CRL contractor which results in a less aggressive pricing strategy for the customer.

With regards to the catering element of CRL, responsibility of catering delivery is still with the RAF until Saturday 1st October when PAYD comes into action. Up to now, almost all of the CRL queries we have received have been about PAYD. Other versions of PAYD have led to negative opinions of the concept, however ISS won the contract due to their approach being completely different to that of their rivals, because of what they promise they can deliver, and because of the numerous benefits these promises can bring to the customer, the Station and the RAF as a whole.

Most of the negative comments we have received have been based on examples of old examples of PAYD, but we have noticed that once the alternative offered by ISS has been explained, those who are sceptical about the concept soon begin to realise that this is a method that can work. However, it is never easy to convince everyone and the only way we will convince those that still doubt the project will be to offer them quality food at an affordable price.

To do this we have capped prices: some of our competitors charge in excess of £5.00 for certain dishes, however our lunch prices will be capped at £2.50 and evening meals will be available for a capped price of £3.50 (Prices are correct as of June 2011). On occasions there will be cheaper options, so equally there will occasionally be more expensive options up to the capped price as discussed. In addition tossed salads, squashes and condiments will be available at no extra cost. The menus have been specially developed by ISS Executive chefs working side by side with RAF chefs. There has also been RAF involvement in selecting some of the ingredients used in these recipes. Once these menus have been implemented, there will be opportunities for RAF chefs on site to help develop our menus to make them unique to Coningsby. To maintain and further build skill sets there will not be a dependence on pre-made products. The ‘Freshly Made at Coningsby’ range will be just as its name suggests, and at the point of sale a 5p donation from every sale will be donated to the RAF Benevolent Fund from ISS.

So what changes can be expected in the near future? The Spar Shop will be doubling in size with a £140k refurbishment including a section of the shop dedicated to selling products that can be bought and cooked in SLAM accommodation. These developments will be complete by the end of August. Full refurbishments will also take place in Heroes and the Typhoon bar, with an extensive menu being introduced. A new ‘Bean to Cup’ coffee shop will be opened and a new loyalty card will be introduced to be used in these venues offering exclusive discounts for its users. In addition to this, the ‘Bapmobile’ will be launched on 1st August, delivering ISS products to sites around the base. If you are currently missed off of the designated route, then please email us and we will look to include your location on the ‘Bapmobile’s’ journey plan.

The Bapmobile will also provide a useful tool for interactive feedback with customers across the base.

Your feedback will be vital to us to ensure that we only sell what the customer wants and you will be given a daily opportunity to feed back to the CRL team, ensuring you can voice what you enjoyed and what you think might need to be changed. Once the wheels are in motion, you – the  customers – will ultimately determine how CRL will look at RAF Coningsby.