Since, according to the National Restaurant Association, 62% of consumers say they would prefer to eat at an eco-friendly restaurant, going green really can help you build your customer base. But if no one knows about your green qualities, you will never benefit from them. By implementing some good marketing techniques, you can spread the word about your green business, and in the process you will cement your ties with the community.
You can promote your restaurant by rewarding customers for their own eco-friendly practices or by offering them environmentally friendly meals. Try the following:
Give discounts to green customers. Consider offering customers discounts for their own green lifestyles. Many restaurants have found success with such a program. For example, WaterCourse Foods, a vegetarian restaurant in Denver, offers a 10% discount to bike riders. You could offer a similar discount to customers who walk or ride their bikes or take the bus to your establishment instead of driving. Come up with new creative incentives. For example, you could also offer discounts or free items to customers who bring in recyclable materials, or if you own a coffee shop, offer discounts to customers who bring their own reusable thermos.
Offer green specials. Try to develop menu offerings that are especially environmentally friendly. Your eco-conscious customers will appreciate it. For example, you should consider serving several vegetarian, all-organic or all-local dishes or beverages. Use a special symbol to mark your organic and locally-grown items, or showcase them on a special menu insert or table tent that informs customers about the foods’ green qualities and explains why the special items are pricier.
Green Public Relations
Getting press for your restaurant is the best way to market your green qualities. Making the news is free marketing, and it creates a positive image for your restaurant. To create newsworthy stories that tout your green qualities, try some of the following tactics:
Host a green event. Many event planners are looking for an eco-friendly venue. Try hosting an environmental film screening or a tasting featuring organic and locally-grown foods. You could also hold a fundraiser or a community gathering that focuses on the environment. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you notify local newspapers, magazines and news stations to ensure proper event marketing.
Develop partnerships. Consider asking other business to join you in initiating a recycling or composting program. The Rock Fish, a restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland, has successfully implemented a joint program like this.2 Since their city did not offer them a recycling program, managers at the Rock Fish asked other businesses to bring in their recycling, and even offered a free beer to anyone who participated. Because of their initiative, the Rock Fish received press and good will from the community. You could try something similar, or come up with your own idea for a partnership. For example, you could partner with another eco-friendly business by offering your customers coupons for that business and asking them to do the same for you.
Help with community programs. Try hosting school field trips or environmental educational classes for kids. Pizza Fusion, an eco-friendly chain restaurant, holds classes to teach kids about helping the planet.3 The kids learn about the environment, and they also learn about Pizza Fusion’s pizza. This kind of community involvement not only encourages environmentally responsible behavior in the next generation, but it also gets the community interested in your business. You can establish yourself as a green leader in the community. » Learn More About Going Green in Your Commercial Kitchen