In the post-COVID era, the restaurant business has become more competitive than ever. And in response, outlets are looking for more and more creative ways to make their offer stand out from the crowd, including embracing restaurant sustainability.
The need to provide a warm, welcoming, environment, top quality food, and enticing prices of course remains pre-eminent. And the creative use of marketing tools such as a generous loyalty program can also help.
But such is the pace of change in the industry that discerning customers are increasingly taking these things for granted.
With climate change, pollution, and increasing threats to the earth’s natural resources, more and more customers are paying attention to the green credentials of their favorite businesses. And this includes restaurants.
In fact, the latest industry studies suggest that more than 50% of diners now consider sustainability as one of the key elements in their choice of outlet.
This means that there’s a huge opportunity out there for those restaurants able to catch this wave. Fortunately, too, restaurant buildings and appliances are currently amongst the least green of all businesses.
Which allows plenty of room for improvement. And all that’s necessary for success is the correct implementation of some simple technological solutions
Here are three ways to get started.
Current estimates are that the food industry will waste upwards of an appalling 1.6 billion tons of food in 2022.
Quite apart from the ethical implications of this figure in a world where millions still go to bed hungry, scientists also believe that food waste may play a significant role in global warming and climate change.
Obviously no single outlet – or even global chain – can tackle a problem of this scale on its own.
But there are now Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that, if widely adopted, could make a significant difference.
The most notable application of these technologies is in the field of refrigeration. The law demands that restaurants discard food if its storage temperature has strayed above 40 degrees Fahrenreit for a period of two hours or more.
Regular manual checks by staff offer a partial solution, but they can often fail to pick up unexpected spikes in temperature – particularly during busy times when personnel are often distracted.
IoT solutions, on the other hand, will continuously monitor storage temperatures, and warn staff or management in good time to ensure that any necessary remedial measures are implemented at once.
Since the average restaurant is reckoned to waste an astonishing 4,000 lbs of food a year, this amounts to a significant monetary saving that can be passed on to customers in the form of lower prices.
Let it be known to customers through menus and social media how you are able to defeat your competition in this way, and you’ll have significant marketing tool in your hands.
As noted above, restaurants are amongst the least energy-efficient of all commercial premises. But the good news is that paying attention to refrigeration can also reduce your carbon footprint as well as significantly reducing food waste.
IoT sensors, for example, can dramatically reduce energy consumption by a 24/7 monitoring and automatic adjustment of lighting, heating, and humidity levels, as well as the output of kitchen appliances.
As a side-benefit, this automated process will also free up significant amounts of precious staff time.
Water is our planet’s most necessary and most vulnerable resource.
And as the average restaurant may use as much as a staggering 7,000 gallons a day, it’s incumbent on all in the industry to conserve as much as possible.
Fortunately, today’s IoT technologies can go a long way to help by the automatic monitoring and control of water usage and waste in kitchens, bars, and restrooms.
Adding IoT devices to existing appliances is an inexpensive way of ensuring the early detection of frozen or burst pipes, leakages, and inefficiencies in all manner of kitchen and bar equipment.
So, it’s easy to see how the right technologies can have a dramatic impact on restaurants’ cost base and profitability. And in an increasingly competitive marketplace, the correct use of these technologies can easily mean the difference between a highly profitable business and one that struggles to survive, let alone prosper.
But apart from directly cutting costs and thereby increasing profits, embracing restaurant sustainability – and being seen to do so – is also a vital way of attracting new customers.
And for the longer term, positioning your business as “Green friendly”, and making this a key element of all marketing communications, will help you attract “Generation Zers” and even younger customers who are likely to regard this as an essential consideration in their choice of favored restaurant.