So you have worked hard and achieved a 5 on your food hygiene inspection. Working hard to ensure you have a clean and safe business you should be rightfully proud. But what next? The food hygiene rating is compulsory but how can you use this result to your advantage?
Here we cover 12 ways you can use your rating to your advantage, from innovative ideas to getting the basics right, your score is a marketing asset you should be using to its fullest.
This first one may seem obvious but display your rating sticker! By this I don’t mean just stick it in the corner of your window where no one will see it, actually display it. Give it pride of place where customers will see it. In the Food Standard Agency’s Food and You report in April 2019 they found that 87% of people surveyed recognised the scheme, up from 34% in 2012. And 60% of people surveyed said that the score affected the decision of where to eat, second only to good service (61%) so having your score in an eye catching location could be the deciding factor for passing trade.
You can go one step further like this restaurant in Plymouth and have it blown up unto a banner.
You should make sure that your rating is printed on your menus, whilst this is important for Restaurants it is even more so for take away and delivery businesses as customers are unlikely to see it displayed elsewhere. The Food Standards Agency suggest this themselves and have made the Logo and score images available to download for free from their site.
Like this restaurant.
For takeaway restaurants customers tend to have lots of choice and working your logo into the design of menus used as leaflet drops can make a big difference. Given the choice of two similar takeaways customers will usually pick one they know to have a good Hygiene Rating over one they do not know the rating of. Make this choice easier for your customers by having menus designed with this in mind and make your score prominent.
Social media is now one of the most important forms of advertising for food businesses. Facebook alone has 42 million users in the UK and food is one of the most popular categories on Instagram, so you should use this to your advantage. Whilst you should at the very least have a presence as part of your marketing strategy, a good idea is to use these platforms to build a community for your customers. If you can get them to subscribe to one of your social feeds then you have a way to talk directly to them. Using pictures and your words you can influence your customer’s perception of both your business and your competitors.
This does not mean to start putting down your competitors, its usually best not to mention them at all, however if your make a big deal of your score in Instagram pictures and Facebook posts and your competitors don’t they people will start to ask why. Remember to use appropriate hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, the FSA suggest #Protectingyourplate however #5rating #FHRS and #FHIS are perhaps more commonly used.
One tip to help with this is once you have made customers aware of your score have other pictures not specifically mentioned taken with the certificate or sticker visible in the background. This will trigger the memory of your score in customer’s minds.
You can use your score as an excuse to throw a party or promotion. Free glass of champagne for parties of five to celebrate a 5 rating or a percentage off the bill for the first 50 people who mention your new score. Promotions like this can bring in extra customers when pushed out through your social channels. Whilst there is an upfront cost to giving everyone a free drink to celebrate your score on a Saturday night, all of those customers will remember why they received it for years to come and hopefully repay it many times over in return custom.
Today we had an inspection and got a hygiene rating of 5. This is the highest anyone can get so it goes to show that we prepare our food in the safest way possible. Celebrate with us - for the next 5 days we’ll be giving 10% off ALL of our afternoon tea boxes! #cakeyloveuk #sharethecakeylove #5starrating #fhrs #foodgov #afternoonteadelivery #afternoontea #bournemouth #bournemouthdelivery #bournemouthbeach @foodgov
Local newspapers are always on the lookout for local interest stories. If you contact them and frame your score as a local success story you can get free advertising and the newspaper gets a free story. This works especially well if there has been any bad press locally about food hygiene at a competitors or if you have recently taken over ownership and increased the rank.
A good example of this would be Macau Chinese restaurant who turned a failed visit into a full page web article with his local paper including a video interview.
Every town and county has local influencers, be it a large Instagram food blogger in Glasgow or a local dignitary in Sussex. Use your score as an excuse to contact them and invite them to come have a look, perhaps meet the chef and learn a recipe. Everyone likes to be made to feel important and if they come and try it a social media post from these people can have a large impact.
A lot of the time your website is the first impression a customer will have of your business. You should make sure that your rating is visible and prominent on your website so people are instantly aware of it. It is important however to ensure that your website shows the most up to date score. You can use a “widget” to display your businesses current score and this will then auto update when the Food Standards Agency update your sites score.
If you use a takeaway delivery platform you should ensure that you mention your rating in the first couple of sentences of the business description. Whilst Just Eat will now only allow businesses with a 3 food hygiene ranking or higher to work with them they do not show your actual score. But mentioning it at the beginning of your description means that people ordering on mobile or skimming the page will see it. Knowing you have a 5 rating and not knowing what competitors have could be the difference in who gets the order.
If you email customers or suppliers regularly as part of business you should put the rating logo as part of your email signature. This will sure as a subtle reminder to people of your score and will help build a culture of comfort around your businesses brand in customer’s minds.
Leaflet drops are still a common way of promoting businesses and often include offer codes for discounts. An idea is to add a message along with your score image about receiving your high score. Something short and punchy like “We are proud to have once again received the highest food hygiene rating of 5 on our latest inspection” You could also set discount codes as “5rating” or “Hygiene5” to re-enforce the message.
Customers love confidence in their hosts and nothing says confidence like bringing your customers into the kitchen. This works especially well if you have a newly opened business where everything is gleaming. A short two minute video showing people around the kitchen (with strategically placed chefs chopping and preparing) whilst taking about hygiene and quality, fresh products can give a view most people never get to see and the openness will stick in people’s minds.
Ultimately creativity is your secret to success, think about what is unique to your brand and how you can apply that to your hygiene rating score as another piece of advertising content. Are you known for your humorous and graphic chalk board slogans, then make one about your hygiene score. Constantly posting Meme’s to delight your followers, create one around your score. Whatever makes you special to your customers should be leveraged into advertising, both subtle and overtly and your hygiene score should be part of this.
On Monday our Lakeside unit at “The Hall” got inspected by Thurrock Council and we are pleased to announce we scored 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. ⠀⠀ I must admit in these 2 years of trading this is the longest inspection we ever had ! So impressed with the environmental officer 👮♀️ who spent those extra hours checked every single document and was interested in every detail of our business. ⠀⠀ Naanstop crew works extremely hard to bring the best in everything we do and this rating is a true testimony of our practices. ⠀⠀ The pride and feeling it gave all of us is priceless !! ⠀⠀ Thank you everyone for all the love and support 💓 ⠀⠀ #movementculture #fitlife #maketime #motivation #uk #unitedkingdom #visitlondon #unlimitedlondon #london_bigcity #eeeeeats #foodiesofinstagram #instayum #buzzfeast #ipreview via @preview.app
The twelve ideas above are just the start of ways you can use your score to your advantage, and will get you well on your way to making the best of it. We would love to see how you implement these tips or see how else you use your score. Let us know here.