Kantine og personalrestaurant 4 SV 03557 Foto Marius Rua

Opportunities on the menu in Central Norway

Few industries were affected more severely by the pandemic than those providing food for the nation’s canteen tables. In a year filled with ups and downs, collaboration and innovation became the key ingredients. Now, we need to train even more skilled employees who are passionate about service and good dining experiences.

Support in the storm

In 2018, 4Service made one of many good recruitment moves. Odny Aarhaug was brought in as regional manager, Central Norway, for canteens and staff restaurants under the Facility Service (FS) division.

“I’m a trained restaurant chef and have extensive experience from other FS companies,” Odny Aarhaug explains.

The regional manager comes from Melhus, just outside Trondheim, and knows both the area and the business well.

“The combination of my catering background and further education at BI (Norwegian Business School) is a key advantage in my everyday work. I know what our great people need in terms of follow-up and support to be able to deliver the very best every single day.”

A regional manager has numerous duties. She is responsible for customers, contracts and day-to-day operations, as well as discovering new opportunities at every site for which 4Service is responsible. When things are hectic, it’s important to keep a cool head and deliver as agreed.

“The number one rule is to always deliver on our promises! If we can’t respond today, we need to be clear about when we’ll get back with some answers.”

Odny Aarhaug is based at an office where ten colleagues help to run 4Service’s canteens in Central Norway. In total, she is responsible for the performance of a staff of 90.

“One of my key tasks is to create a good working environment with the right team spirit. A good sense of humour is an asset in the interaction with colleagues and customers alike,” Odny Aarhaug asserts.

2021 was an extraordinary year. This year’s major revenue peak in December did not materialise, as a consequence of the government’s lockdown measures, and many exciting plans had to be shelved.

“Overall, the year included both ups and downs. We had to support and consider each other, give each other space and be open and flexible. We’ve talked a lot during the pandemic, and without our good colleagues in the HR and HSE departments we wouldn’t have got through this so well. They were an incredible help during this difficult time,” Odny Aarhaug asserts.

Besides supporting her colleagues, Odny Aarhaug also spent a lot of time dealing with customers and contracts.

“We’ve maintained our market position and many facility owners have subsequently thanked us for standing firm in the storm. I’m proud that we’ve been able to take such good care of both each other and our customers. We’ve also worked a lot on preparing for the start-up of new contracts for 2022.”

The results of the employee satisfaction survey are proof that 4Service and Odny Aarhaug have done a lot of things right.

“In 2021, we achieved the best-ever results for canteen operations in Central Norway. The day the results came out was an extra good day,” Odny Aarhaug smiles.

Odny Aarhaug

Customer survey

Not only staff were asked about 4Service’s performance during the past year.

“We did really well in the annual customer survey in December. I particularly remember a comment from one of our customers: ‘Thank you for contributing to a better working environment in our company!’ That really touched me,” says the regional manager, before continuing:

“Getting that feedback in such a demanding year gave us all new energy and motivation. Even though we’ve invested a lot in equipment and technology, people will always be most important to us. This is confirmed by the feedback from the customer survey. Our customers appreciate the skilled people who work here. They feel taken care of and experience the service they expect and deserve.”

Culture and people have long been 4Service’s biggest competitive advantage.

“We have gathered a great bunch of people who think innovation and development are fun. For us, it’s great to come up with new ideas. Instead of analysing everything to death we try out new ideas instead. We set a high pace and make adjustments along the way. I’m convinced that this approach will never become outdated in the service industry,” says Odny Aarhaug.

The Trøndelag model

According to NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration) , Norway will lack as many as 100,000 skilled workers in the coming years. Many businesses in Trøndelag already lack skilled labour. The county and NAV therefore already offer a unique customised training programme with the opportunity for an apprenticeship and professional diploma.

“The Trøndelag Model is a project we’re incredibly proud to be part of,” says Odny Aarhaug.

4Service has a solid footing in Central Norway and so far has exceeded expectations, including in Trondheim. It is natural for the company to be involved in the development and education of the region’s youth.

“Our participation in the project is twofold. First of all, social sustainability is an important venture for the entire company. Secondly, competition in the labour market is so intense that we have to take our share of the responsibility for safeguarding the steady addition of good employees.”

To ensure that Odny Aarhaug and her colleagues can use all the new opportunities when they arise, the good working environment must be maintained and further developed.

“A lot of people moved out of the industry during the pandemic. Thankfully, we had a low staff turnover rate and are now in a much better position than many of our competitors. Combined with the efforts we put into such initiatives as the Trøndelag Model, there’s no reason why the results of the next employee and customer survey should not be just as good as last year’s,” Odny Aarhaug concludes.