Millions of UK employees are returning to their workplaces and they still want to eat or grab a bite as easily as possible.
But after such a long period of lockdown and with social distancing in force, habits have changed. Many employers are operating bubble systems in which only half the workforce is on-site at any time. Workplace cafeterias and food-providers will need to be smart if they are to tempt customers back and optimise reduced footfall.
Here are seven tips about how a workplace food-provider should approach these challenges:
- Be smart about promotions. Omnico research found 70 per cent of staff would visit their cafeteria more often with a loyalty programme. We also found a loyalty scheme redeemable against purchases would encourage another two visits per week from a customer.
- Reward customers’ behaviour (including support they give you on social media) not just their spending. Make them feel valued when they change their habits to give you their custom.
- Create deals that are about more than just one meal. The research by Omnico found 45 per cent of employees like the idea of receiving discounts for packages that run across multiple days. Meal deals like this can increase weekly visits by 1.77 times per person in a week.
- Eliminate queues by enabling customers to order ahead with an app. Omnico research found staff will make extra visits to a workplace restaurant if they can order before they get there. Apps give customers an accurate view of what they have bought over time and they give an operator data and an open channel for promotions, news and updates. If you employ analytics, you can tweak offers to match individual preferences or patterns of behaviour.
- Make sure customers can pay via apps when they are in the canteen and integrate your app and point-of-sale technology with the kitchen management system so no time is wasted.
- Some customers are still very concerned about maintenance of social-distancing, so allow for pick-up of orders at designated collection points.
- Ensure customers can use scan-and-pay so they don’t have to wait. Customers using this technology scan barcodes with their phones as they select what they want in the cafeteria. They pay using the card saved in the app, so it is a totally contactless process that cuts out queues and gives reassurance to those nervous about virus transmission.
As we await the return to greater normality, these techniques will enable workplace caterers to tempt employees back and help maximise revenue. But they will also future-proof food services businesses as we emerge from the pandemic.