Dealing with a customer complaint is part and parcel of the industry. However, how you deal with it can determine whether this leads to return custom or a negative online review. TripAdvisor […]
Local, Sustainable, Independent… and You!
Shopping locally: helping your community to prosper
Imagine if you could improve your venue’s reputation, serve fresher, tastier food, and invest in the local economy – paving the way for regeneration, more footfall and the chance to boost your bottom line.
Jake Lines helped set up Shop Local UK Org, a campaigning group proud and passionate about the benefits of shopping within your local community.
“Cauliflowers picked in Cornwall on Monday are sent to London to be packed and sent back on Thursdays for supermarket chains to sell on Friday. It just doesn’t make any sense.” Jake says. “Food is fresher, tastier and often cheaper the closer to the source you buy it.”
It makes good business sense, too: “By shopping locally, you are pumping money back into your community. Keeping people employed creates a better and more prosperous community.” It also goes some way to preventing your high street becoming a ‘ghost town’ of boarded-up shops: not the best in hospitality.
“For every £10 spent locally, £3.85 is recirculated within the local community.”
Think creatively and save waste, save money
We hear a lot about why being sustainable matters. But what does sustainability actually mean for your business?
As Juliane Caillouette-Noble from the Sustainable Restaurant Association says, being more sustainable starts with what we leave behind. “The scale of waste is immense,” Juliane says, “but the potential prize on offer to operators, through serious reduction, is equally huge. When you consider that 75% of waste is avoidable, it presents restaurateurs with an enormous opportunity, especially with food inflation running at its highest level in decades. Food waste costs the average restaurant at least £20,000 a year.
“Apps like Too Good To Waste help restaurants with a simple means of demonstrating to customers that they’re taking action. And 93% of UK consumers say that knowing more about the ethical credentials of a business’s food would or could influence where they choose to eat.”
Think independently: provenance and traceability matter
“There’s a growing trend towards customers seeking independent businesses,” says Andrew Goodacre from BIRA (British Independent Retailers Association).
“Provenance is so important,” Andrew adds, “Local provenance is hard if you want to serve fish and you’re in the middle of the country. But as long as you tell your customers where the fish was landed, and the which fisherman, you’re good to go!”
As Andrew says, it’s all in the communication. “Tell them where their gin is made, and who distilled it. I’m in the Cotswolds, and they make a great whisky here, which you really wouldn’t expect. That’s a great story.”
In these days of restaurant, pub and cafe chains plus online megastores, Andrew believes that customers are looking for something a little bit different: “… and they will pay a little more for it,” he says – a fact backed by research carried out by YouGov, which showed 58% of customers are willing to bear the additional expense.
“People are looking for specialisms. Really dedicated coffee roasters, sourdough bakers or local beers,” he says.
Ultimately, thinking about introducing some independent offerings is a great way to make that extra point of difference. “With everything becoming centralised, a Yorkshire pudding tastes the same in Leeds as it does in Reading. But it shouldn’t have to be that way.”
How to find your local independants
Do a hashtag search on instagram (#coffeeroasters for example), ask your customers, or visit craft and food fairs. Think about customer experience first Andrew suggests, rather than your profit margins, and you might be surprised at how closely one affects the other.
“Unique experiences are what customers crave,” he says. “Give them that, and the rest will follow.”