A new program running in the cafeteria at Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., is increasing sales by 10% on the days it runs.
The “fan favorite” promotion was created by Holly Parkinson, retail and catering manager with contractor Cura Hospitality, part of the Elior North America family of companies.
The program features a regular customer’s favorite dish one day a month, bringing attention both to that meal and the hospital employee who loves it.
West Penn introduced the program in October, and it’s since expanded to other hospitals in AHN.
During its first month, the promo featured street tacos, the favorite of an OB doctor on staff. And in January, the dining department served nachos, selected by doctor Eirwen Miller. The date coincided with Miller’s birthday, so the team took an extra step and dished up her favorite dessert, vanilla cupcakes, and a birthday cake.
Next month, the promo will feature a blackened chicken Caesar wrap, which was selected by Brian Johnson, the hospital’s president. Buffalo chicken salad and coconut chicken have also been highlighted, and Parkinson says has fan favorites are lined up for the next six months.
Foodservice staff works closely with the person choosing the dish to select the day to highlight it. Otherwise, the promotion isn’t extra work for the team because the meals are already part of the menu cycle and don’t require special ingredients.
Sales rise on the promo days, Parkinson says, because hospital employees usually invite their entire department to the cafeteria on the day their favorite item is featured.
“As the director of retail, I’m looking for anything to increase sales,” says Michaelle Buskey, director of retail and catering. “This gets a buzz going. The whole department comes down to support the person, and it has a nice PR benefit. It also shows the synergy between the foodservice department and the hospital.”
Cura promotes fan favorites on a monthly calendar that’s displayed in the cafeteria and also announces them as “coming soon” to generate more excitement.
Parkinson doesn’t plan to run the promotion more frequently, however, because she wants it to retain some novelty.
“I don’t want people to get sick of it,” she says. “It gives them something to look forward to.”