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As fitness culture continues to grow in the United States, restaurants have seen a spike in “health nut” and “gym rat” customers. Not to mention, the Huffington Post recently reported that scandals in the food industry and celebrity influences have caused a growing interest in vegetarian and vegan diets. In fact, according to Google Trends, public interest in a vegan diet is higher than ever before.

Even those who do not follow a strict diet or lifestyle choice are attempting to eat healthier in general. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 70 percent of consumers say they are attempting to eat healthier at restaurants and 75 percent of consumers state that healthy menu options have become more important when selecting a restaurant.

 What this means for your restaurant:

This means that a large segment of your customer base seeks meal options that are low fat, low carb, low calorie, high in protein or devoid of any animal products. And they don’t just prefer these options – they expect them. Eighty-six percent of consumers believe that restaurants are offering more nutritious options than they were two years ago, according to the same NRA study.

If your restaurant cannot provide these options, they are likely to find another restaurant that can. Healthy eaters shouldn’t have a hard time finding meal options while dining out. Serving a wide range of meal options – from gluttonous “cheat day” meals to low fat lunch salads – ensures that you are every customer’s favorite choice, regardless of their diet.

How to go about making these changes:

1. Adjust your menu screen

You can easily adjust your existing menu in an organized manner using your restaurant POS system. Start by creating a variety of healthy recipes for a variety of diets – vegan and vegetarian options, low fat choices or low-carb/high-protein meals.

You can organize and customize the menu screen on your restaurant POS system to include these new options. Create a menu button or path for each new recipe so that your employees will have easy access to all-inclusive menu options without entering several modifiers. Both employees and customers will have an easier time placing orders.

2. Provide information

It’s important to include as much nutrition information as possible on your menu so that customers will not only be aware of your new options, but they can also avoid asking several questions or making modifications while ordering.

Rather than redesigning your menus all together, a great (and cost-effective!) way to do this is to create a section or insert that includes all of your new healthy options. Hiding it in the back of your existing menu could cause customers to skim right over it, where a colorful insert could catch their eye.

And outside of your menu, you aren’t limited to a pamphlet – many modern restaurants use digital menu boards or “digital signage” to display nutrition information.

3. Market your new menu

Your restaurant POS system isn’t just a machine used to check out customers, it’s a powerful marketing tool. POS reporting features and sales history information can be used to promote your healthy options to new and existing customers as well as track the success of your updated menu.

  • Promotion – Your healthy options can be promoted through targeted email campaigns and customer loyalty discounts, for example. Using your POS customer database, emails can be sent to specific genders, age groups or areas to notify customers of your new options. You can encourage your customers to choose healthy options by awarding them a discount or allowing them to work toward a free one.
  • Tracking – Managers can track the success of their healthy option sales through their POS reporting features. They can see if their marketing ventures have been successful in inspiring more customers to order healthy meals – or see how their healthy menu fares in different time periods or seasons. For example, the New Year usually inspires new diet goals.

 

Including healthier options on your menu is only half the battle. The NRA study shows that although 70 percent of restaurants have added more healthy options to their menu, only half of them mark the healthy items as such on the menu. Without effective communication and marketing, customers won’t be able to appreciate your contribution to their healthy lifestyle.