Ensuring Food Safety and Building Customer Loyalty in Dog-friendly Restaurants
For dog-lovers, a meal at their favorite restaurant in the company of a four-legged friend might be the perfect treat. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 44 percent of American households own a dog. Although not all patrons are inclined to bring their pets along when eating out, there’s still a significant market opportunity.
In 2017 alone, consumer spending on pets in the US amounted to $69.5 billion, according to the annual report released by the APPA. Forrestaurant operatorswilling to take up the challenge, it could mean more patronage from a dog-owning clientele, bringing with it pet-owner loyalty and extra income. However, restaurants must follow specific rules to ensurefood safetyin dog-friendly settings.
While the FDA has no specific laws regarding pets in restaurants, local laws ban pets from food preparation areas. The only exception to the rule is service and guide dogs, which are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. When opening or transitioning into a dog-friendly restaurant, some general rules apply:
A permit may be required. Local laws usually stipulate what is acceptable in dog-friendly establishments. Restaurants may need to obtain a permit before they can advertise as dog-friendly. For example, the Doggie Dining Ordinance for Sarasota County in Florida stipulates, among other things, that dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and cannot use chairs, tables or other furniture.
Open spaces are compulsory. Dog-friendly restaurants are required to have outdoor spaces with clear signage indicating the entrance for dogs.
Dealing with dissenting customers The most significant challenge when adopting a pet-friendly concept is that not all customers will welcome the idea. In a 2016 online poll, Journal.ie asked readers if dogs should be allowed in pubs and restaurants. Out of over 21,000 votes, the majority (54 percent) voted against it while 42 percent voted in support. The remaining three percent were undecided. To avoid losing existing or new customers, restaurants should have dedicated pet days/hours, as well as a ‘no-pets’ area for customers who might be allergic to fur or who prefer not to dine near pets.
Building customer and pet loyalty In an effort to build an engaged, connected community, we’ve seen pet-friendly restaurants adopt a number of strategies:
Invest in dog-friendly facilities, such as outdoor play areas, toys, and dog runs.
Provide complimentary services and develop a special pet menu. This can help patrons and their dogs feel welcome and also bring in extra income.
Take and post pictures of your guests and their pets on social media. This builds customer loyalty and is an effective way to attract more customers.
Irrespective of the marketing strategies restaurants chose to adopt, food safety remains the key to long-term customer loyalty. Preventing cross-contamination from pet to humans is one thing, ensuring that safe food is served to both patrons and pets is another.
FoodLogiQ understands the importance of food safety in building customer trust, especially in pet-friendly settings. Our innovative software allows you to monitor your supply chain for critical safety issues. To learn more about how FoodLogiQ can help you achieve supply chain transparency, request a demo.