How to Market a Company Cafeteria to Your Employees
A company cafeteria is a major benefit for a company's employees. As in any business endeavor, the marketing of products and services is an important key to the company's success. It is no different with promoting a cafeteria to the company's employees. Good communication and creative marketing strategies keep a cafeteria in the forefront of employee’s minds, entices them to use the cafeteria’s products and services, and draws them back repeatedly. Effectively market your company cafeteria by using the following strategies:
1. Communication – Good communication determines the success or failure of a cafeteria. Start by distributing surveys to determine the needs of your diners. Are they looking for organic or vegetarian options or are they a meat and potatoes crowd? Listen to their preferences and request menus from the cafeteria management company to suit their tastes. Keep a suggestion box front and center, and encourage its use. Print flyers listing weekly or monthly menus and follow up with e-mail menu reminders to all employees. Post and distribute flyers throughout the building announcing upcoming special events, celebration meals and new menu options. Work with the cafeteria management company to design a cafeteria website containing descriptions and photos of menu options, downloadable free or discounted coupons, nutritional content of a highlighted meal, food related articles, local food news such as a listing of local farm stands, farmers markets or food festivals, upcoming cafeteria events, a seasonal recipe or positive company news. Encourage feedback and engage in ongoing dialogue with employees through your website. Not to be overlooked, is a weekly email communication announcing the coming weeks menu options, specials, or activities.
2. Coupons – A discount coupon on a new menu item will encourage employees to give it a try. A free cupcake on an employee’s birthday is a coupon that will not be wasted. A coupon for a free meal for each new employee will focus attention on the cafeteria’s services. Deliver a coupon to each desk for a free cookie available in the cafeteria on National Cookie Day. A coupon for a free cup of coffee reminds employees that the cafeteria is open for breakfast. The list of coupon ideas is endless and an effective way to bring attention to a cafeteria.
3. Contests – Challenge employees to create a slogan, poem or song about the company or one of its products with a prize of a month’s worth of cafeteria lunches. The entry box can be located in the cafeteria. Request that the cafeteria management company create food related gift baskets to raffle. A free raffle ticket can be provided with the purchase of any cafeteria meal during a given time period. Hold an annual family talent show in the cafeteria with employees and their family members as participants and serve snacks, desserts and soft drinks. Host a cook-off where employees submit their original recipes. Company officials can be judges and the winner gets bragging rights as well as their recipe creation offered as part of the cafeteria menu for the following week.
4. Cooking classes – Offer cooking classes after hours in the cafeteria. Ask the cafeteria management company to provide a chef to instruct and demonstrate cooking skills such as cake decorating, making barbecue sauces, healthy snacks for kids, French, Italian or Mexican cooking, low fat, heart healthy recipes or meals using locally grown ingredients.
5. Promote healthy eating – An added benefit for employees is a cafeteria wellness program. Denote healthy menu choices with a colorful symbol such as a heart or thumbs up sign in a bright, easily recognizable color. Each time an employee purchases a meal with the symbol a card is punched. When a specified number of punches are completed the employee receives a reward. This reward could be a T-shirt with a healthy slogan, a hat, a water bottle, a gift card, a free or discounted coupon, a reward check, a paid hour off from work, or any other appropriate item.
6. Special events – A sports event for a popular team from your area will bring a good crowd. Celebrate opening day for the area’s major league baseball team with hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks, or recognize the Olympics with gold medal meals or foods common to the host country. Acknowledge a local team using team colors to decorate and foods appropriate to the sport or host a Super Bowl party. Holiday celebrations are always popular with employees and holiday foods are easy to coordinate with decorations and possibly music. Invite a speaker to present a program on a topic of current interest to your employees and serve coffee and pastry. Schedule an annual or semi-annual event that includes employee’s families. A Valentine dinner, a beach party in January, a summer picnic or a barbecue. Any occasion can be turned into an event that brings employees together in a spirit of fun and celebration. These events build camaraderie and company loyalty.
7. Bulletin boards – A cafeteria is a great place for a message and information center. Several large bulletin boards can be displayed in the cafeteria, one for positive company news including newspaper clippings, photos of employees receiving rewards or information on new company initiatives. Another can be used to display an employee or department of the month and their accomplishments. A third could be a place for employees to post photos of themselves or family members and their accomplishments, such as winning a road race, graduation from college, winning the school spelling bee, the birth of a child or any other family event. Listings of free items, items for sale or services offered by employees can also be posted. These message boards will draw employees to the cafeteria to keep up with the latest news regarding the company and their co-workers.
All of these marketing strategies help to ensure a company cafeteria will be a popular place for employees to gather. Although its primary focus is on providing good food to company employees, a cafeteria can become the hub of a company, a place that brings employees together to celebrate, to learn and to enjoy each other and their respective families. The benefits of a company cafeteria abound, both for the employee and the cafeteria. A cafeteria services management company is experienced in working with and assisting companies in implementing the marketing strategies that work best for them and helping to insure that a company cafeteria is a successful endeavor.