Case Study - Success on a plate for cafe owner

Enterprising cafe worker Janice Vernon was faced with an uncertain future when it looked as if she might lose her dream job, but a year on she is serving up her own success.


Details

Janice had worked for eight years at the Deans and Inveralmond High School community cafes when her boss decided he no longer wanted to be involved in the business. Determined not to lose a role she loved, Janice decided to set up her own business and take on the running of the cafes.

The move coincided with West Lothian Council’s tender for the provision of cafe services to the High School, which meant Janice had to move quickly, and, take on the challenge of submitting a proposal which would secure her future plans.

Janice explains: “Although I had been involved in catering for a number of years, and had experience of the cafes at the High School, I didn’t know a lot about setting up a business, or how I should go about tendering for the Council contract.

“I approached Business Gateway in Livingston and got lots of advice on setting up my business, JV Catering.  I then pulled together the information I needed to put my tender forward to the Council as advertised on the Public Contract Scotland procurement portal – not being very IT literate, I roped in family to help me with the online process, but I have to say it was very straight forward.

“Fortunately, my tender got through to a shortlist and I was able to pitch my ideas – which included new menu ideas and healthy-eating options – directly to the Council. I was delighted when I found out I had won the contract, and since then the business has gone from strength-to-strength.

“I’ve had great feedback from pupils, staff and members of the public about the cafes. I make sure we are constantly reviewing our menu choices by talking to customers and getting young people involved in the cafes.

“I now employ four people, and have so much more confidence in my own business abilities – and when the Council contract comes up for renewal, I’ll be a lot more experienced in submitting my tender online!”

Tom Henderson, Interim Procurement Manager for West Lothian Council, said: “The cafes at the High School offer a vital service to pupils and staff, and therefore we wanted to award the contract to the supplier who would meet our requirements and offer best value for money to West Lothian Council.

“Advertising on Public Contract Scotland means any supplier has the opportunity to view the contract and decide if their business can meet our requirements. This gives West Lothian Council the opportunity to receive tenders from interested suppliers, and allows us to award the contract to the one which offers best value for money.”