FDA nutritional disclosure laws regulating how chain restaurants must disclose the nutritional value of all menu options to restaurant patrons means more work for restaurant owners and managers — but there is a marketing upside too.

FDA Nutritional Disclosure Laws Create Opportunity Thanks to Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Use these restaurant marketing ideas to promote your restaurant and its menu to local diners using nutritional disclosure laws. 

Even if not required to do so, many restaurants choose to disclose caloric and nutritional information to restaurant patrons. Federal law requires that *restaurants with more than ±20 locations post calorie information for each food item in at least its standard serving size. Among other requirements, calories must be posted:

  • On all menus and menu boards, including boards at drive thru locations
  • Calories must be displayed clearly and prominently
  • Can be displayed in ranges for variable items (like combo meals)
  • Must be displayed on a sign next to foods on display
  • Should be listed per-serving or per item on a sign next to self-service foods (like a restaurant salad bar or buffet)

Plus, upon request, restaurants must be able to produce more information about all of the foods it serves, including total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fat, sodium, total carbs, sugars, dietary fiber and protein.

You might also like: Are Restaurant Specials – or Special Restaurants – Key to Restaurant Loyalty Programs?

More work? Maybe. But the FDA labeling requirements for restaurants, food establishments and vending machines brings restaurant marketing opportunities, too.

7 Ways Nutritional Disclosure Laws Lead to Restaurant Growth

1: Create “lite” versions of your most popular menu items by reducing portion size or ingredient substitutions.

2: Offer sampler plates featuring appetizer-sized combinations of menu items customers love but may pass over due to calories in full-size portions.

3: Take advantage of the new regulations to send out an informational email and direct mail newsletter to your customers or within local zip codes.

4: Write a press release or editorial for publication in local newspapers relative to the new regulations and what restaurant customers should be looking for – and asking for – in order to maximize nutrition while eating out.

5: Don’t just display calorie information beside foods, that’s only one piece of the pie! Many foods high in calories are also high in health benefits – the two are not mutually exclusive. Explain the nutritional benefits of foods and ingredients.

6: Tell your customers about locally-sourced ingredients in your menu items. By sourcing locally, you can reduce the time from garden to plate and use foods while they are fresh, rather than frozen or processed. If you source local foods and ingredients, let your customers know! It’s not just better for them, it’s better for the local economy, too.

7: If nutritional disclosure leads to less demand for certain items on your restaurant menu, have a “clearance” event and extend a special offer on those items to give customers once last chance to either try or enjoy a menu item before it is discontinued.

*chain movie theaters, sporting events, airplanes and businesses that are not primarily restaurants (but still serve food) are exempt

±New York City requires restaurants with more than 15 locations to comply, and other states have lobbied for the regulations to apply to restaurants with as few as 10 locations – check with your state’s regulatory agencies for information about nutritional disclosure laws in your state.

How to get your Groupon.Com on, and use daily deals for customer acquisition.

Many business owners have successfully extended offers on daily deals platforms to gain new customers and grow. Take a strategic approach to avoid potential pitfalls and get the most return from your marketing investment.

The prospect of participating in a daily deal program such as groupon.com, land other daily deal sites in order to quickly gain access to hundreds – or even thousands – of new customers has enticed thousands of US business owners into the daily deal game.

But does this marketing tactic pay off? Here are some of the statistics about daily deal programs as noted on scoredealz.com’s Daily Deal Infographic, citing data from factbrowser.com and hubspot.com:

  • Nearly 10% of all US consumers regularly purchase daily deals (and there is room to grow, because 41% of US consumers haven’t even heard of daily deals yet)
  • 80% of daily deal email subscribers have purchased at least one deal in the past six months
  • 48% of daily deal subscribers use them regularly and repeatedly over time
  • More than 1 in 10 daily deal subscribers use them even more frequently as time goes on
daily deals for customer acquisition

And the number that may interest business owners most:

  • 55% of businesses running daily deals actually make money from their promotion, in addition to gaining brand awareness and the opportunity to acquire new customers for the long term 

Of businesses that participated in daily deal programs, 58% said they did so primarily for customer acquisition. But does it work?

  • 68% of customers who bought daily deals returned without another discount being offered
  • 41% of customers who bought a daily deal said they were “certain” they would use the service again
  • 88% of customers who took advantage of a daily deal offer spent more than the deal’s value when they visited the participating business
stats on daily deals for customer acquisition

Business owners that want to use daily deals to grow need to have a daily deal marketing strategy, not just a great offer.

4 Ways to Use Daily Deals to Boost Customer Acquisition

It’s true that daily deal programs can bring an influx of new customers into a business; however, there are pitfalls that some business owners don’t foresee at the outset. Before offering a daily deal of your own, make sure that your business is prepared, so that you can avoid potentially negative outcomes, such as these.

1. Loyal customers, left out of the offer, experience dissatisfaction or even anger at having to pay regular price.

If your offer is limited to new customers only, you run the risk of offending regular customers who have to pay full price for the same products or services. Consider mitigating the impact by giving loyal customers options to:

  • Take advantage of a separate but equivalent type of offer; such as a move up or add on offer
  • Redeem special offers of their own or temporary “VIP” discounts
  • Receive additional loyalty or purchase points or rewards during the offer period

2. Loyal customers can experience dissatisfaction, or even anger, if they perceive that daily deal redeemers are taking their time slots, making it difficult to book an appointment or negatively impacting their customer experience in some way.

To avoid the bottleneck that booking dozens – or even hundreds – of daily deal offer redeemers could create:

  • Plan to book only a given number of daily deals per day / week; for instance, if you sell 100 daily deals, set aside 25 appointment times per week over 4 weeks, rather than trying to accommodate them all within days of offer purchase.
  • Pre-book regular customers or pre-sell products to them so that they feel like they are your first priority.
  • Expand staffing and hours of operation in order to accommodate the additional traffic – a merchant cash advance can be used to cover additional operating expenses such as hiring temporary staff, paying additional staff hours or overtime, keeping the lights on for more hours during the day and the other operating expenses that accompany increased demand.

3. If your daily deal sells like wild fire, you may find that your business does not have the retail inventory or products needed to fulfill them, or depleted inventories might lead to dissatisfaction for regular customers who cannot purchase from you as a result.

In order to avoid this potential pitfall, you should plan to stock up on retail and product inventory against the number of daily deals you anticipate selling. You may also be able to work with your own suppliers to create contingency and quick order options that allow you to quickly restore waning inventory or purchase the products you need to fulfill customer’s services.

  • A merchant cash advance can provide you with the working capital you need to pay vendors and suppliers for retail and product inventories you will need to honor the daily deals.

Depending on your product or service daily deal offer, you may need to plan weeks or even months ahead in order to have enough retail or product on hand to fulfill new customer orders (and continue to serve existing customers).

4. Cash flow and profit margins will be negatively impacted for a short period of time while your daily deal runs — potentially for up to 120 days.

When daily deals are being redeemed, operating costs are likely to increase while profits decrease (because you are selling products or services in the daily deal offer at about 25% of their regular selling price, when you take into account a 50% discount and 25% – or more – going to the daily deal program administrator).

  • A merchant cash advance can be used to cover the temporary cash flow shortage created while you operate for several weeks at reduced profit margins.

Remember, there will be a gap of 3 months – or even more – between the time that your daily deal is sold and the time when the daily deal program administrator forwards you the portion of proceeds due to you from sale of the daily deals on their site. It’s important for you to have sufficient cash flow while you are waiting for your share of the proceeds. If you can successfully up-sell and cross-sell additional items to new customers attracted by the daily deal, this can help to bridge the gap as well as reduce the hit to your margins in offering products or services at such a low rate.