Social Responsibility: Important to your Customers

By Tricia Hoy

In a recent Technomic study, 63% of consumers surveyed said they were more likely to visit a food service operation they viewed as being socially conscious. So what does that mean, really? And what can you do to be socially responsible in your community?

As a restaurant operator, you have more on your plate than preparing good food for your guests. In the restaurant and food industry, social responsibility—once viewed as edgy marketing speak or a granola approach to business, is quickly becoming mainstream as restaurant owners find ways to help their communities and reduce their environmental impact while reducing costs, improving customer service, and boosting customer loyalty at the same time.

What can you do to practice social responsibility—and let your customers know about your actions and values in a way that comes across as genuine?

Here are three ways:

Build goodwill.  Giving where you live is not only personally satisfying, but it can go a long way in driving business to your restaurant. By partnering with a local charity, you can support a worthy cause close to home and not only show customers your heart for the community, but also give them the opportunity to get involved with you. Consider monthly events where your guests can enjoy a meal and support a great cause.

Source locally. Tapping into the “eat local” trend is another way to demonstrate your social responsibility -- both by supporting local growers and providers and “buying green” by reducing the environmental impact of shipping food and supplies over long distances.

Locally sourced food is a draw for a growing number of guests. In a recent study by by the United States Department of Agriculture, shoppers perceive that restaurant sourcing their food locally gives them the opportunity to:

  • Eat food with superior quality characteristics – freshness, flavor, ripeness.
  • Learn about their local farming – often directly from growers – which garners trust in the integrity and quality of the food, and subsequently in the restaurant providing it.
  • Support agriculture and small business development in their local community.

Go green.  According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), environmentally safe restaurant practices are growing in popularity as more operators are recognizing that recycling and reducing waste and energy efficiency are good for business.

There are plenty of small things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, and show your guests your responsibility to the environment:

  • Serve tap water by request
  • Use only recyclable take-out containers
  • Compost food scraps
  • Switch to LED lighting
  • Recycle fryer oil
  • Clean with eco-friendly supplies.

Making changes to support your community and a greener world? Email your guests and tell them about it. The customer database in your POS provides you with the opportunity to collect email addresses to market to your guests. For more on this, read :Understanding Customer Database Marketing.

Social responsibility may be part of your DNA—but you may be reluctant to talk about what your business is doing to make a difference. Don’t be! Your actions and commitment to social responsibility just might inspire someone else to take action. And your competitors aren’t showing the same restraint. Social responsibility is something your guests care about—so make sure they know what you’re doing to make your community a better place.

Posted on Tue, Jun 10, 2014 @ 13:06 PM.
Updated on April 15, 2019 @ 10:52 PM PST.

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Tags: Restaurant Marketing

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