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Bringing Grab N’ Go to Healthcare

November 5, 2020
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Are you leaving revenue on the table by not offering grab ‘n go food to hospital staffers? More healthcare facilities are investing in take-and-go foodservice due to high demand for portable, made-to-order meals. 

Hospital staff need food faster and faster to meet mounting demands for patient care in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Loss of revenue due to COVID-19 has caused many hospitals to cut staff and find new ways to help their bottom line

Foodservice plays a unique role during these unprecedented times. It not only satiates staff and patients, but increases employee satisfaction — all while generating revenue. 

Sixty-seven percent of consumers say the takeout capabilities of their preferred foodservice establishment is important. If your hospital staff can get a tasty, to-go meal in 15 minutes or less — what’s not to love? To be sure, send out a survey to gain insights into upleveling your hospital’s foodservice. 

Gritman Medical Center in Idaho found success by replacing a large beverage station with a grab ‘n go cooler to their dining area. Grab ‘n go offerings now generate upwards of $500 to $600 a day in revenue — with many of their sales coming from evening shift staffers. 

Foodservice operators at Gritman love the to-go cooler because it can be used to sell leftover items from lunch, including smaller portions of family-style meals. They also experiment with selling take-and-bake meals for employees who want to bring food home for dinner. 

Grab ‘n go is also advantageous for healthcare centers seeking to create efficiencies. Ready-made meals cut foodservice labor in half, while maintaining sales. For example, customers that purchase a pre-made sandwich from the cooler will keep lines down at your deli, or made-to-order sandwich station. This lessens the burden on staff, while keeping sales up. 

It also eliminates waste, as many meals can be repurposed into a take-and-go dish. For example, a roast chicken that was not eaten for sit down service can be shredded and sold as chicken salad in the to-go cooler. 

If you are interested in broadening your grab ‘n go offerings, here are some tips for success: 

 

1.Come up with a standard menu — Stick to a standard menu to see what draws interest from customers. Classic items like pizza by the slice, sushi, salads, sandwiches, fruit cups, yogurt, cheese sticks, chips and protein bars are all classic favorites. Once you get your bearings, introduce more adventurous or comforting options. Also, make sure you are labeling anything that is organic, locally grown, or homemade. Grab ‘n go items are notorious for being made with highly processed ingredients. Don’t neglect to differentiate your food quality! Also, be sure to experiment with ingredients that cater to different dietary preferences like gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Pro-tip: A small but mighty oven that can cook pizza, sandwiches, cookies and more to perfection will be your secret weapon when prepping your to-go menu. Be sure to look for one that can store multiple recipes for greater ease.

 

2. Don’t neglect your marketing — Before you cost out items, consider your marketing plan. How will you advertise your new grab ‘n go menu? If your items are homemade in your kitchen, have a plan for communicating this competitive differentiator to your staff. Newsletters, emails and signage are great ways to get the word out. Also, if your to-go cooler is in the same vicinity as sit-down service, consider making a to-go only line at registers, so people can move through the dining hall more quickly.

 

3. Uplevel your drink selection — Grab ‘n go isn’t just for food. Fun, creative drinks, like gourmet coffee, should also be sold via grab ‘n go if you can accommodate it. This will help your healthcare operation steal share of wallet from local gourmet coffee roasters — and is just another way to redefine the healthcare eating experience. As a bonus, people who buy coffee tend to impulse purchase baked goods or sweet treats. Be mindful of the snacks and bakery items you advertise near coffee stations.

 

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