“Soccer Nutritionists:” Busy schedules pave way for Kids LiveWell program

The phrase “soccer mom” is often used in reference to moms who spend the majority of their time chauffeuring their children to their respective extracurricular activities. Over the past few decades, research shows children’s schedules have become increasingly busy, making their “chauffeurs” busier as well.
Dining out: No longer a treat

With at least one after school activity each day of the week, children are resorting to doing their homework and eating dinner on the go. According to the Food Marketing Institute, just 40% of American families eat dinner together regularly – proving family dinners may be a ritual of the past.

Prior to this recent boom, dining out was a treat. As Harvard Magazine states, “this [trend] is a drastic change from the 1950’s when people ate far more of their meals at home.” When families were sitting down to dinner nearly every night, they could afford to indulge in the calories of the occasional burger and fries. However, now nearly 1/4th of Americans eat at quick service restaurants (like McDonald’s or Burger King) twice a week and 34% of Americans visit casual restaurants (like Chipotle or Panera Bread) once a week. Additionally, 30% of children eat fast food on any given day, making healthier options necessary.

Kids LiveWell program stepping up to the plate

The typical family is becoming increasingly busy, causing them to dine out more often. Not only are parents faced with the daily struggle of getting their child from point A to point B, but now they also must find a way to feed them a healthy meal along the way. To help with this challenge, the National Restaurant Association has partnered with Healthy Dining to create, the Kids LiveWell program. Started in 2011, the program is dedicated to making healthier options available to families.

Kids LiveWell is the first program of it’s kind, and it reaches over 42,000 restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, participating restaurants “agree to healthful menu items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy.” To qualify for the Kids LiveWell program, restaurants must have at least at least one entree that meets the following criteria:

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat (artificial trans fat only)
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 770 mg of sodium

Kids LiveWell

Kids LiveWell goes mobile

Kids LiveWell has also developed a smartphone app for both iPhone and Android users. This app helps parents find participating restaurants and gives users menu options, helping to promote healthy eating when dinning out. With the help of this app, “soccer moms” can now become “soccer nutritionists,” feeding their children grilled chicken and broccoli instead of a burger and fries – even when they’re on the run. Parents can also find participating restaurants at HealthyDiningFinder.com. In an interview, Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association said, “It’s inspiring to see restaurants in every state and of all sizes making the effort to serve nutritious options for the industry’s youngest patrons.”

Still time to grow

Recently The Kids LiveWell program celebrated four years of promoting healthier dining options for children. As the program celebrates great success and improvement over the past few years, they’re still unable to forget their critics. Some people believe it’s not the restaurants’ responsibility to put healthy items on their menus; it’s parents’ responsibility to feed their children healthy foods. Others question what the incentive is to stick to healthier meals once they’re too old to order off of the kids’ menu. Scott Irestone, executive chef for Wolfgang Pizza Bar in Las Vegas says a challenge they face is not enough of their guests choose the Kids LiveWell meals, however, he says “ knowing we’re doing something positive to encourage more healthful choices is exciting.”

Participating restaurants

Ultimately with the American obesity rate up to 27.7% in 2014 the Kids LiveWell program may be the first step in laying the groundwork for a healthier generation. Chick fil A, Burger King, Applebee’s, Outback, Red Robin, Firebirds, and Cosi are just a few of the 155 restaurants with over 42,000 locations that jumped on board with the Kids LiveWell program.

Kids LiveWell showcases each restaurants’ dedication to providing healthy options for children, and they feature the restaurant on HealthyDining.com and the Kids LiveWell app. Finally, Kids LiveWell promotes restaurants in the program and allows them to place the Kids LiveWell logo on their respective menus.

Making Your Restaurant Appeal to “Soccer Nutritionists” Every where:

Restaurants who want to join the Kids LiveWell program must meet the criteria previously mentioned and go through a brief nomination process.

Even if your restaurant is not part of program, think about placing nutrition facts on your menu (children’s menu included) or having the information available online for families. If you find your menu lacking these features, contact us here.

Quality Work and Customer Service: Why Consumers Prefer Local Businesses

Considering 77% of consumers think national chains offer more competitive pricing, it is essential to set your small business apart by delivering quality and customer service. Providing customers with a personalized experience enables your business to be chosen over name brand stores.
Beat out national chains and get chosen by customers with these local business strategies:

  • Emphasize Quality

When it comes to national chains and local businesses, 72% of consumers are willing to pay your small business more for a higher quality product, even though 77% of consumers say national chains offer more competitive prices. When it comes to purchasing a product or service, price isn’t necessarily a factor – but quality is. Ensuring that your business offers a high-quality product that satisfies customers’ needs in both the short and long-term will ensure they choose you over national chains.

  • Cultivate your Customer Service

Creating a positive experience by providing stellar customer service not only engages your customers with your brand, but also creates loyal customers; 88% of consumers say local businesses offer better, more personalized service, in comparison with national chains. While national chains may offer lower prices, customers will opt to purchase from you if they know they’ll have a positive customer service experience.

  • Promote your brand through online reviews

If asked by a business owner to post a review online, 89% of customers say they would if their experience was positive. By promoting your business online and encouraging customers to post about their positive experiences with your business, you not only create brand ambassadors (and loyal customers), but also provide testimonials to potential customers that your business consistently delivers personalized service and satisfaction.

Understanding the customer advantages of using a local business, and capitalizing on them, ensures your business will be chosen (consistently) over your biggest competitors: national chains.

Check out our full infographic here:

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Mobile Payments: Taking the Restaurant Industry By Storm

In today’s day and age, completing tasks through a mobile device has become mainstream. The need to print your boarding pass, give someone cash, or pay with a credit card is quickly diminishing as mobile apps continue to compensate for these tasks. Why print your boarding pass when you can download it to your phone? Why give someone cash when you can wire money through the Venmo app? The restaurant industry is following the same path, as it is becoming more and more popular for restaurants to accept mobile forms of payment.
Most restaurants that accept mobile forms of payment do so through the use of third-party apps. In addition to restaurant-focused mobile payment apps like Dash, Cover, and Tab, restaurant industry leader OpenTable has recently launched a mobile payment platform that allows users to pay through their OpenTable app.

What’s in it for me?

Allowing diners to pay through their mobile phones is a win-win situation for both customers and restaurateurs. Gone are the days where diners have their heads on swivels, searching for their server in hopes of getting the check; mobile payment allows diners to pay when they please. For restaurateurs, mobile payments expedite the process of cashing out customers. As customers are enabled to pay quickly and efficiently via their mobile devices, there is less time between customers waiting for a table and being seated, allowing more customers to dine while simultaneously increasing sales for your restaurant.

Benefitting diners and servers alike

Believe it or not, mobile payment is benefitting servers as well. Studies also show that servers will likely see an increase in their tips when a consumer pays through a mobile phone. The theory behind the upswing in tips is customers are no longer confined by the cash in their wallets, making them more likely to tip more. Also, the ability to “click” a suggested tip amount (15%, 18%, 20% etc.), provides an exact number percentage for the diner to tip, instead of rounding them up or down to the nearest dollar as most people do.

As a win-win for all parties involved, mobile payments will most likely become more and more common as time goes on. Pretty soon, paying through a phone will be as common as paying with a credit card is today.