Sustainable restaurants can attract customers for all the right reasons.
Long ago, putting an ad in a local paper or magazine was enough to spread the word about your brand.
Times have evolved. Spending $10 here or there on a targeted Facebook ads became a quick way to push a BOGO deal to local customers. With each passing year, restaurants are asked and expected to do more and more to reach customers.
Customers have more influence over restaurants than ever before. As a result, your story must resonate with your customers emotionally, digitally, and physically in order to be successful.
Sustainability And Green Practices
One area of change that customers are looking to see is the support of sustainable and green practices.
Serving the needs to the “sustainable” demographic helps restaurants attract young adults and a more affluent demographic. These consumers also tend to be more tech-savvy and digitally connected than your typical customer.
This means customers that appreciate sustainable restaurants will be able to connect through marketing channels like email and social media. If this initiative proves to be successful, your restaurant might end up changing your customers for the better.
So, where should you begin?
Food Is Fuel
This is where your restaurant can begin to shine.
Start pickling, fermenting, and canning some of your foods to add a sustainable touch to your menu items. Not only will this extend the life of seasonal goods – it adds flavor!
When it comes to marketing your sustainable menu, use words like “fresh”, “real”, and “natural” to any applicable components. The food industry now sells almost $41 billion worth of food each year labeled with the word “natural,” according to data from Nielsen. These words immediately draw the eyes and interest of desirable customers.
If you’re adding new menu items based on what’s in season, communicate this to your customers. “Seasonal Vegetables” or “Seasonal Fruit” as a menu items can pique a customer’s interest. Consider changing your menu with the season four times a year.
Change The Environment
Take a look at your restaurant’s current operational strategy and see if there are any sustainable improvements you could make.
Do you have an oven that takes twice as long to cook items? Do you have an old refrigerator? Consider putting aside money to invest in you to make production a little easier for the team.
Also, try to find ways where your restaurant could encourage reuse. For delivery orders, provide recycled paper napkins and compostable containers, or invest in containers that customers can use again for meal planning.
To save money, swap out your old bulbs with some LED lights. This could help trim down your electric bill. Also, if you’re looking to style your restaurant differently, consider using reclaimed wood, tabletops, or old doors to give a restored vibe to your space.
Keep It Local
You should also begin (if you aren’t already) locally sourcing your food from local farmers and producers.
If it’s difficult to get a product locally, try supporting family-owned or minority-owned producers.
Outside of keeping all of your ingredients as local as possible, work with local non-profits who could support your effort to reduce food waste, such as local food banks, shelters, and soup kitchens.
Furthermore, sustainable restaurants and companies that lead the way on sustainability issues will likely reap dividends in the form of the patronage of an approving mainstream public. The survey data reveal that women and higher-income consumers are particularly receptive to menus that promote sustainability. Likewise, young adults age 25-34 and families are more apt to be influenced by sustainability.
Elizabeth Stewart, the marketing director of Subway who oversees corporate social responsibility efforts for the chain stated: “Sustainability is about preserving natural resources and reducing our environmental footprint by conducting business with greater efficiencies”. “For us, sustainability is not a fad but a framework to help us put the right business solutions in place. We believe that sustainability and profitability go hand in hand. Using good, environmentally sound business practices helps increase our franchisees’ profitability, improve our customers’ dining experience, as well as helps protect the planet”.
It may seem difficult to tackle all of these components at once.
Instead of trying to do it all, think about your goals and consider what’s realistic to achieve. If it’s as simple as using recycled paper for your menus, start there. Get creative with how you make your restaurant more sustainable for you, your customers, and your community.