4 Tips for Enhancing Your Retail Food Service Strategy in Hospitals

Bematech Blog, Industry Insight - March 1, 2019

retail food service strategiesA critical part of hospital foodservice revenue budgets is providing nutrition services to patients. However, hospital cafeterias are high-traffic environments that also cater to medical staff and visitors. Foodservice should not just be viewed as a budget at the bedside but as a prime revenue opportunity to service the dietary needs of a diverse customer mix.

Build an Attractive Menu

Hospitals have an inherent commitment to health, which cafeterias should uphold. However, it’s also important that you meet the demand for quick, tasty options that are accessible and budget-friendly. An attractive menu is one of the best retail food service strategies to utilize, so focus on creating a menu that is rich in both flavor and nutrition.

Medical staff also needs healthy, high-energy foods to get them through long shifts. Offering these choices deter snacking at vending machines, while also providing the nutrition needed to deliver exceptional patient care. Try offering grab-and-go options that include fresh produce, as well as adequate sources of protein, like a serving of raw vegetables with peanut butter or cheese that staff can consume on-the-go.

Make Promotion a Priority

Decision makers at hospitals that operate their own cafeterias have a vested interest in its success. If you’re in search of retail food service strategies that will build the bottom line, look no further than your own stomping grounds. While patient meals make up a large percentage of your business, don’t disregard opportunities to expand your retail food service strategies to cater to more hospital staff and visitors. By advertising your promotions within high-traffic areas of your hospital system, you will be able to better communicate special items, discounts, and promotions that are available. Also consider direct communication with medical staff by placing promotions on staff, schedules, newsletters, and breakrooms.

Make Purchasing Easy

One of the best retail food service strategies to implement is simply paying attention to your customers and their needs. At a hospital cafeteria, many of your customers are likely in a hurry. Either they are employees that don’t have much time to waste, or they are guests visiting loved ones, and don’t want to leave the patient’s side for too long. Be sensitive to these needs by offering more ways for staff and guests to submit their orders quickly through kiosks and online ordering.

Another strategy is to create fast-track ways for individuals to purchase the food they want. Some options for this include:

  • POS queues specifically for employees on short breaks.
  • A separate line for the coffee bar.
  • An area for purchasing a la carte items, or pre-made snacks.
  • Options for employees to have meals delivered.
  • Online apps that allow customers to order ahead and pre-pay.

Deliver Unmatched Speed of Service

The demand for speed of service with your customers already gives you a leg up on the competition. It takes longer for customers to walk across the street to the local coffee shop or quick service restaurant than it does to visit the cafeteria. With the right tools, you can further increase your speed of service and set your kitchen up for success.

Consider implementing a kitchen display system (KDS), which is designed to streamline food preparation and order fulfillment processes. A KDS system also helps increase efficiency and reduces errors, which maximizes your ROI. Additionally, a KDS provides greater visibility which improves the inventory ordering process helping to control inventory costs.


As people are paying more attention to their overall health and well-being, hospital leaders are paying more attention to how they can create a more positive overall experience for patients, families, and staff members while maximizing opportunities to increase revenue. Hospital cafeterias are where these goals intersect. By combining a high standard for nutrition with better service, you can uphold the hospital’s commitment to health while improving operations and customer satisfaction. When you offer great food and fast, efficient service, you will be equipped to make great strides toward a better bottom line.