What is quality?
Theresia Hermén Johansson lives in the south of Sweden and likes making her own sauces. She's responsible for patient food at nine hospitals in Region Skåne and has spent all of her professional life working with food services.
Here's a person who thinks about quality a lot. We called her up to ask a few questions and, while in the kitchen, she kindly took the time to share some thoughts.
How would you describe your food service?
"I'm responsible for patient food in Region Skåne.
That's nine hospitals in total and we run our own warm food system in five and have external suppliers for a cold delivery service in the other four. This means healthy competition and encourages questions such as 'if they can why can't we?' "Our food should always be quality food, and that's when the guests are satisfied."
- Theresia Hermén Johansson, Region Skåne
"Our food should always be quality food, and that's when the guests are satisfied."
Quality food doesn't mean everyone gets a choice of favourite dishes all the time, but all the food we serve should taste good. For example, if it's falukorv it should be taste like good falukorv. (Editor's comment: this is a popular Swedish sausage that's a product of designated origin, from the town of Falun).
We try to serve food from fresh ingredients, without going to absurd lengths. Some things can be made just as well by external producers, like ketchup."
What was important for you when looking at suppliers?
Quality is about the supplier's treatment of us as a customer and a common understanding.
LOU drives what we ask for and how we ask for it. This legal framework sets the targets but it's still important to have a common understanding of what quality really means: for me, for the supplier, for the guest. Only when we feel that our quality demands can be met by a supplier will we look at the cost.
Quality is about continuous improvement. Sometimes improvements cost more, sometimes they don't, thanks to efficiency gains. To improve you always need a dialogue.
Quality is about details like providing food the logistics can cope with, and cope with well. For example, don't keep fried fish warm!
Quality is about how the food is presented.
"Quality is about service, about that smile and how to solve things."
Think of it like this. You get to order pizza from someone who meets you with a smile and recommending a choice you haven't tried while twirling dough in the air. Or you get given a box without any hint of a smile. Which would you prefer?
Quality is about service, about that smile and how to solve things. If one dish runs out it should be ok to ask someone to double check. You should be met with respect and feel ok about choosing something else. If you get you're second or even third choice and are still happy, that's often due to good service.
What are you most pleased with today?
Quality of the food and service.
What would you like to improve?
It's always important to improve things.
For example, we're always looking into the number of portions per canteen and how we can utilize available capacity better. We're also looking to improve follow-up with faster data transfer.
Which KPIs do you think are most important to follow up on?
Guest satisfaction in relation to budget.
What advice would you give to other buyers of food services?
Write down what you think is good and bad.
Take notes on what you think's important and learn from doing it. What did we do right last time? What did we do wrong?
Prepare well and clarify what you want for yourself, early on, before you start the process. What am I saying here? What do I want?
Finally, what do the politicians want? If you can get clear and well-anchored political direction when it comes to food and food services that can really help you to ask the right questions.
Learn more about Region Skåne.