Taking Care of Employees is Goal No. 1 for Restaurants

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A restaurant employee talks to another workers while looking over a tablet.
Take care to take care

The concept of “corporate responsibility” isn’t a new one. In fact, with the advent of social media, restaurants are focusing on sustainability and eco-consciousness more than ever before—because it’s what consumers expect. Taking care of the environment is an important business practice, but in today’s market, taking care of people is even more important. 

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Social Responsibility 101
People want to know that restaurants not only take care of the environment, but that they take care of their employees. There have been countless PR nightmares centered around how brands fail to adequately support their employees, and consumers pay close attention to those. Those same consumers also want to know that restaurants are a part of the community where they are located. But the larger the business, the tougher it can be to make a connection to local communities. Every day, at every restaurant location you manage, there are opportunities to give back to your employees and the communities you serve.
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Start In-House
Happy employees make for happy customers. It’s that simple. Taking care of your employees will lead to less turnover, better service, and ultimately more loyal customers. Things like continuing education programs, scholarships, and other employee benefits are surprisingly important to consumers. Encourage your restaurant employees to get involved in socially responsible programs and support them when they do. A corporate-sponsored community staffed by your employees can bring amazing return from customers.
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Invest in the Community. The Community Invests in YOU

Don’t think of supporting the community around your restaurants as a cost: think of it as an investment. The money that you put into programs designed to help the people around comes back to you in the form of new and more loyal customers. Research has shown that consumers are willing to spend more when higher prices can be attributed to socially responsible motives. Every dollar spent on community-focused programs is another dollar that makes its way back to your restaurant. 

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pexels/Erik Scheel
Supporting the Local Economy
Full-service restaurants have a unique opportunity when it comes to community involvement in the fact that they can take advantage of local food sourcing. Customers like knowing that their food is fresh and local. Quick-service restaurants don’t always have the same opportunity, and as a full-service operator, the benefit of sourcing locally not only shines through in quality and freshness, but also in customer appeal. Closed loop programs, like donating food waste to a farm that you purchase from to be used as compost are also consumer favorites.
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Two Birds, One Stone

Food waste is an epidemic in the U.S., and consumers are extremely aware of it. Food waste recycling programs are becoming more and more popular as a means to show social responsibility among restaurants. Taking steps to reduce food waste is the first and most impactful practice a restaurant can adopt to become more socially responsible. 

Food donation programs are an amazing way for restaurants to be directly impactful to their local communities, and consumers see that. Many large restaurant operations are afraid of the liability issues associated with food donation, but existing laws protect donors from any liability associated with food donation programs. Doing the right thing shouldn’t open you to the potential for a lawsuit, and as long as food is handled properly, you’ll always be protected.

Food donation programs aren’t only a great way to get involved in your local community, they have tax relief benefits that can save your restaurant money. By collecting all the data about the food you donate, you’ll be able to accurately calculate the tax rebates associated with food donation programs.

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The Key: Visibility

All of the social consciousness in the world doesn’t matter if no one knows about it. Starbucks is the benchmark when it comes to showcasing social initiatives. The chain is very up-front and transparent about all of the programs it has in place for its customers, and consumers don’t ignore things like that. Don’t be shy about your programs for your employees and the community. 

Consumers have shown time and time again that restaurants that take care of their employees make more money. Consumers like knowing that their money is going to a business that not only takes care of the environment, but also takes care of the people around them. 

Ray Hatch is the chief executive officer of Quest Resource Holding Corporation (NASDAQ: QRHC). He has in-depth experience building profitable business and orchestrating transformational growth. Hatch brings over 25 years of experience in both the waste management and food services industries with companies that generated over a billion dollars in revenue. Previously, Hatch served as president of Merchants Market Group, an international food service distribution company. Hatch also served in various executive roles with Oakleaf Waste Management, a provider of waste outsourcing that was acquired by Waste Management.