Even before the sound of champagne corks, most of us have already planned our list of New Year’s resolutions. Popular UK lifestyle magazine, Psychologies, conducted a survey about resolutions and found that 52% of people will be focusing on weight loss in 2014, with 43% saying they’ll be making changes to their diet. Fifteen percent of respondents quoted wanting to curb the stress and anxiety in their daily lives.
As you may have already heard from reading the grim dining predictions for next year, less people plan to dine out in 2014 and the number one reason for that is your customers’ desire to stay healthy. It has long been the common consensus that dining out causes patrons to sacrifice their diets, and lose control over their nutritional requirements. Now, with various gadgets helping customers track every step they take and every single calorie that goes into their mouth, you will have to make a few necessary changes to win back your guests and shoppers. The brands that can adapt to customers’ changing expectations and help their customers achieve their goals as stated on social media will gain and keep market share.
1. Offer a healthier menu options
This one’s a no-brainer – if people want to eat fewer calories without going hungry, make it easy for them to do so at your restaurant or grocery store. Add a veggie bun-less burger if your concept specializes in typical American fair, add an alternative to your fried dishes by offering low-calorie, heart-friendly steamed or grilled alternatives. Maybe a fruit plate could be the perfect ending to a delicious meal vs. a decadent cake. The way to make your menu healthier and diet-friendly is dependent on your concept’s unique identity and style. However, offering a number of healthy and delicious alternatives to your signature dishes is sure to be met with overwhelming support. For example, in a recent breakdown of the social buzz gathered about the pizza crusts offered at pizza parlors nationwide, “gluten free” and “whole wheat” received very positive sentiment from customers.
Don’t forget to use social media to advertise your new menu changes. Look around on Twitter for health-centered hashtags. Use hashtags like #healthyfood and #veggies in your tweets mentioning your new, healthy menu options.
Finally, make it easy for your patrons to spot the healthier items by posting calorie counts next to the featured healthy items and visually highlight the healthier choices. Another important tip: don’t forget about the beverages. Make sure you’re stocked up on light beer, and Skinny Margaritas, to accommodate for your guests’ calorie counting and Weight Watcher points system.
2. (Re)Train your staff
A dedication to calorie-control and a healthier lifestyle, not to mention allergy awareness, requires modern dieters and health aficionados to know the ingredients that go into a certain dish. Make sure your staff is well versed in the ins-an-outs of your menu, so when confronted with the question “How is this prepared?” or “Can you use olive oil on that instead?” they know how to answer. It is also important to educate your servers in what the healthiest choices are, e.g. what the best options are for a lactose-intolerant vegetarians, or those watching their cholesterol or sodium intake. These may seem like small things, but your guests will appreciate your restaurant’s commitment to going above and beyond with your service. Furthermore, post pictures on Facebook showing your cooks using their new, more calorie-conscious, preparation tactics. This way, not only does staff know how to answer questions regarding health but also all of your followers know you’re making the extra effort before they even walk through the door.
3. Promote your healthier attitude
Develop marketing campaigns centered on your dedication to helping customers have a healthier experience. Whether it’s a new Facebook “Healthy Week” campaign that features tips daily, like “try tackling the stairs” or “use applesauce instead of oil in cookies,” or a sponsored tweet announcing changes to your menu, it is important to get the word out. For more tips on how to create compelling campaigns that highlight your dedication to health, on any budget, visit our blog on how to Emulate Chipotle’s Success. Remember that even if you don’t develop dedicated campaigns to promote changes to your menu, a simple weekly “health tip” update across your social media platforms will go a long way to convince your guests that your business is dedicated to helping them keep their resolutions.
4. Listen to your guests
Finally, after you successfully revamp your menu and food shopping aisles to appeal to selective eaters, it’s time to see how effective your efforts were. In order to quickly and precisely gauge the success of your initiatives, you need to employ a social CRM tool to decipher the volumes of sentiment your customers are sharing about your business online. After you’ve changed the dressing, do patrons think the salad is now too bland? The answers to these types of questions (as well as some insights that you may never have expected) are found in social media intelligence, and you have to really listen to get the answers. After investing time and money into making your restaurant a healthier one, it is essential to measure and determine the real-time ROI from your activities.
How have you made your restaurant healthier? Was it something as simple as adding a new item to the menu, or as grand as co-sponsoring a local marathon? Share your thoughts and best practices in the comments section below.