A Strategic Guide with FAQs

10 Common Questions Answered on Outsourcing Senior Living Dining

Outsourcing is a strategic partnership and collaboration with an external third party to perform and manage tasks that would traditionally be handled internally. It is a strategy that typically includes contracting of specialized service providers that have highly focused expertise. The collaboration with this expertise offers significant business value to your organization.

Why Outsource?

• Mitigate the impacts of inflation
• Utilize a specialized support infrastructure
• Improve the quality of service to your customers
• Enhance employee engagement and improve retention rates
• Expand your organization’s offerings in a cost-effective way
• Access unmatched resources and scalability to meet your needs
• Create a seamless consumer experience and drive demand for occupancy

How do you ensure a successful outsourcing partnership?

The key to successful outsourcing partnership is collaboration. Too often, outsourcing initiatives fail because they are the result of bids and “RFPs,” neither of which fully convey the culture, needs, expectations, nuances, and key drivers that originally drove interest in outsourcing. Food service and hospitality, in particular, is a very personal business and requires a thorough understanding of the important role it plays in the broader organization.

How do you determine the right fit for your organization?

• Explain your business goals and objectives, and your expectations for how your dining program works in tandem with those goals.
• Share your strategic vision for dining, nutrition, health and wellness at your organization.
• Be sure to select a vendor that demonstrates more than just how to cook and serve food. Be sure they have an understanding of your culture and the capabilities that are required to bring your vision to life.
• Maintain open communication between your vendor partner and all stakeholders.
• Create a channel of communication between senior leadership.
• Justify financial expectations by asking how they will be achieved with mitigated risk.

Tips for managing your outsourcing partnership:

• Communicate the partnership across all organizational departments.
• Be informative, specific and clear with your vendor partner.
• Maintain current communication on your business needs, especially as they change or evolve.
• Structure your vendor agreement so there is a mutually clear understanding of
obligations, commitments, and service level expectations.

1. How does Compass Community Living recruit and retain talent?

There are multiple layers to our approach to talent recruitment and retention. CCL always looks internally first to determine which managerial candidates are best suited to the role. The candidate pool is then expanded to include external candidates through outbound marketing efforts and strategic talent acquisition geotargeting.

Every candidate, both internal and external, is vetted through our competency validation process to determine how well they align with the expectations and requirements of the respective client. The client also participates in the selection process to define the management role and type of manager they believe will be the best fit for their organization and culture. This collaborative process narrows down the candidates to a final selection.

Competitive salaries and benefits play a key part in retaining top talent. However, one of the most important aspects that enables us to develop and retain this top talent is our emphasis on culture. Across Compass Community Living, our client partnerships are successful because we are guided by our values to treat others with respect, helping team members grow, responding to customer needs with as sense of urgency, and empowering our team members.

2. Is outsourcing my dining program more costly than ready-to-serve food products that only require re-thermalization and plating?

No. Cost is driven by client menu preferences and overall scope of food service rather than by the cost of goods and labor. Most client facilities are already staffed to transform a ‘can-to-pan’ program to one that requires fresh ingredients and daily fresh cooking. Our staff is trained to cook with fresh ingredients while following standardized recipes.

Additionally, there is a labor cost already baked into the cost of pre-prepared, pre-cooked convenience foods. Collaborating with the right outsourcing partner means you no longer need to pay those costs and the efficiency can be redirected at improving other aspects of your dining program for increased resident satisfaction that drives demand for occupancy. For example, with Unidine, fresh whole chickens are purchased, and the culinary teams utilize different parts of the chicken for daily menu items while bones and trimmings are used to flavor sauces, stocks, and gravies to increase cost effectiveness.

A partnership with Compass Community Living means you have access to the largest food and support services procurement company in the United States. This means your community is enabled with our relationships with thousands of suppliers and distributors across the country.

3. How does Compass Community Living manage costs within a partnership?

It starts with identification. We request a list of all food service budget categories prior to the formal assessment process. The list will be revisited several times prior to the development and delivery of a proposal. All relevant cost categories will be budgeted against historical data from across our facilities and industry standards. Tracking is the next key step. CCL will ensure that budgeted expenses align with client expectations and an established scope of service. Financial performance is routinely monitored so that variances and adjustments are data driven.

Consistently seeking future cost reductions is also an ongoing part of the process throughout the partnership. We conduct formalized quarterly business reviews that include forward-thinking initiatives and recommendations to positively impact operational and financial performance.

Use of the latest hospitality industry technology is also key to how we manage costs. Depending on the needs of the client, our own proprietary information management system is available which includes menu management, production, inventory, suppliers and staffing.

4. Can we use local suppliers?

Many partner organizations have suppliers that are local favorites, and our culinary teams work to source food locally whenever possible for the freshest dining experience available. If a local supplier is requested, the resources available to you with Compass Community Living means our supply chain experts will initiate a vetting and approval process to ensure that the supplier complies with quality standards, safe food handling practices, competitive pricing and delivery requirements. This allows your in-house team to focus on other areas of the organization.

5. Can we keep our foodservice staff on our payroll?

Our partner communities always have the option to select the labor model that works best for them to meet their unique business needs.

These options include:

• Keep staff on their own payroll with CCL providing management
• Transition to the CCL payroll
• Utilize a hybrid model where staff and select leadership positions remain on client payroll while CCL provides key management positions.

6. How do you train and coach our staff?

With Compass Community Living, training is customized for your organization and ongoing. It starts with a skills assessment, so trainers can develop a plan that is personalized for each team member to ensure success.

Additionally, a wide variety of employee resources and career progression opportunities become available to your team when you partner with CCL. The onsite Dining Services Director and Executive Chef also provide continuous support and training throughout the term of the engagement and includes testing for those roles that require annual certifications.

On the job training is further supplemented by online training modules that are available to all team members. These online training opportunities include culinary, hospitality, health and hygiene, sanitation and safety. While this takes time, the shorter-term incremental impact these trainings provide to food quality, hospitality, and employee engagement are noticeable to your residents and staff.

7. What is the typical term of a service agreement?

The standard minimum contract term is 3 years.

8. Does Compass Community Living support clinical needs and patient education?

Yes. Our certified nutrition and wellness teams provides and budgets for your needed level of onsite dietitian support based on your unique needs. This can include menu sign-off, inpatient consults, assessments, with ongoing diet and nutrition support for your community.

Compass Community Living provides educational materials and experiences to your residents that promote healthy choices and lifestyles. Healthy cooking classes, teaching events, and other food-related life skills events are led by our executive chefs and registered dietitians. We collaborate with your organization to develop a wellness program that has positive impacts across the organization for residents, staff, and employees.

We also ensure healthy menu options at every meal with hundreds of specific recipes that have been developed through collaboration with our culinary leadership and registered dietitians. and prepared with healthy cooking processes.

9. How soon after the partnership begins will there be notable improvements to my dining program?

Ramp-up time will vary depending on the needs of the client partnership. Often, shorter term improvements may include cosmetic changes such as moving from printed paper signs to digital menu boards. Menus will undergo changes that align with resident preferences and nutritional needs.

A complete transformation can range from 4 to 6 months, with the latter often including kitchen and dinnerware upgrades. With a “One Size Fits One” philosophy, the changes that we support implementing for the client come with customized recommendations to target areas of need, client requests, and address any challenges within the dining program and are incorporated into the framework of a responsible budget.

10. How do you manage the transition for a new partnership?

You only get one opportunity to make a first impression. The transition and opening of your facility is the pivotal moment where we make first and lasting impressions that stay with your guests and build community one meal at a time.

Because we understand this, it has been and will always be our goal to ensure we have resources on the ground from day one. To ensure your transition runs very smoothly, we have a unique methodology for transitioning new partner communities.

Successful transitions include:

• Managing the transition of employees with respect and dignity, ensuring adequate training before and during opening
• Implementing the programs and standards that are core to mutual success
• Creating a communication process by which expectations are clearly defined
• Feedback is full-circle and proactive measures are taken to address questions and concerns
• Ensuring rigor around following proven, standardized processes.

Throughout each phase of the transition, our team will ensure the right people, tools, and systems are in place for a smooth and effective transition of your dining program without service interruption. At each phase, our team will communicate detailed progress reports and incorporate any feedback. Successful partnerships are based on collaboration, and we take great pride in long partnerships and top-notch dining programs. The opportunity to make a lasting impression starts with the first one.

*Bonus Question*

11. How would you describe the difference between Compass Community Living and other providers?

Our approach is customer-first. Developed with the vision to deliver best-in-class culinary and support services to the rapidly growing and evolving senior living sector, Compass Community Living provides an experience known for innovation and passion for service.

Our proven management team and strong operational infrastructure further empowers our ability to customize every onsite dining facility that we operate. The result is a growing number of senior communities and businesses that have become enthusiastic advocates of our exceptional hospitality.


About Compass Community Living
Compass Community Living (CCL) is a division of Compass Group, a global culinary and support services leader. With over 15,000 associates nationwide, CCL offers the expertise of three powerhouse brands – Morrison Living, Coreworks and Unidine. CCL provides collaborative partnerships, emphasizing hospitality and service excellence, for over 850 retirement communities and behavioral health facilities across the country. Together, our family of companies deliver an experience known for innovation and passion for service with proven management and strong operational infrastructure.

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