In addition to the passion that you feel for your restaurant, are you passionate about making a positive impact on your community? Are social issues important to you?
Locally owned restaurants like yours are an integral part of your local community, and are unique in that they have full control over their operations in a way that big chains do not. Restaurants like yours have the flexibility to talk about social issues that are important to you, and incorporate the support of those issues into your business plan.
If giving back to your community is important to you, incorporate that into the operations of your restaurant. Here are some ideas that can help you make a difference.
Connect with a local organization.
Connect with a local community organization doing work that you believe in. Host a fundraising event or donate a portion of your proceeds to this organization. This offers an opportunity to share this organization to your audience, and putting your customers in touch with an organization you’d like to shine a light on.
Highlight your support.
Where we spend our money goes far in showing what we believe in. Show your customers what you’re supporting with your own money. If the strength of your local farming community is important to you, tell your customers about the menu items using their products and tell their story.
Educate your customers.
There are many ways to educate your customers about the issues that you care about, especially if that passion in a driving force in your restaurant. If you’re making decisions about your menu, let your customers know. For example, if your seafood choices are based on what Seafood Watch is promoting, put their information out so that your customers know.
(Link for Seafood Watch: http://www.seafoodwatch.org/)
Utilize your rewards program.
If you already run a successful loyalty program (and if you’re not, you should!) incorporate your favorite organizations into the program. For example, instead of giving your customer a $25 gift card for 500 points, offer to make a $25 donation in their name to your local community food bank.
Offer an employee match program.
Encourage your employees to make charitable giving a part of their life by offering a match. This is tax deductible for both of you, and encourages them to think about their own giving, developing life long habits. If you have a system in place that works with your existing payroll system, it makes it easy to participate. You can even offer a match. Something as low a 1% can make a big difference over time, and helps groom the next generation of charitable giving.
What causes are near and dear to you?