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Consumer Study: Dining Out Less in 2014

By Tricia Hoy

In a semi-annual survey, the North American Restaurant Consumer Sentiment Review by AlizPartners revealed that diners are likely to dine out less in 2014 than they did in 2013—but not for the reason you may think. The economy will always play a role, but this time, diners are concerned more about their health than their wallets.

Staying on top of your customers’ wants and needs is vital to stay profitable. This recent study highlights a new trend in dining out decisions: your guests are worried about their health, and if you are interested in more of their dining dollars, it makes sense to consider this.

Here are a few ideas to cater to health-conscious customers:

Offer healthier options. The most common New Year’s resolution heard around the globe? Eating healthier and shedding those holiday pounds. Consider a few new additions to pique the interest of the health-conscious guest. And if you’ve got it, flaunt it: take the nutritional info sheets out from under the counter and use them to back up your heart-healthy, low-fat, or low-carb alternatives. Enter the details into the POS system too.

SpeedLine user? Touching the ‘?’ and then selecting an item gives your staff instant access to nutritional notes or allergy alerts—once you enter this information into the menu—so they can easily answer customers’ questions about fat content, calorie count, and food sensitivities or allergies.

Source produce locally. According to a study done by the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, on average, the foods we eat in the US travel 1,500 miles before they hit the table. This is not sustainable at today's fuel prices, and transportation accounts for approximately one quarter of our country's greenhouse gas emissions. By buying local products, you set yourself apart– and can deliver fresher taste, arguably better nutrition for your health-conscious customers, and potential cost savings too.

Get portions under control. Portion control is a major factor in keeping food costs in check, but it’s also appealing to the health conscious consumer who is counting calories. With consistent portioning of high-cost items such as cheese and meat, restaurant operators have reported savings of hundreds to thousands of dollars each month—and smaller portions let your guests indulge without feeling the bulge. Make this a priority this year with regular audits. Use scales, and consider printing weights on your make tickets.

Focus on the kids: be fun! Healthier food options don’t have to be boring. Most parents are looking for an alternative to chicken nuggets and french fries, but don’t want to have to force-feed their little ones. There are many different ways you can create ‘fun’ dishes without sacrificing convenience and health.

  • Mashed potatoes with natural food coloring
  • Kids’ pizzas or build-your-own personal pizza bars with fun shaped vegetables
  • Grilled chicken bites with flavor dips
  • Vegetable medleys with a light cheese sauce
  • Pasta shapes with a healthy tomato marinara

Keeping up with the ever changing needs of consumers can be work, but staying ahead of the trends like these can help keep you in the black. Are you considering any menu changes for 2014?

 


Posted by Tricia Hoy

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Tags: Pizza Industry

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