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Issue Date: Vol. 45, No. 4, April 2005, Posted On: 4/11/2005


Aramark's Customer-Driven Strategy Addresses Hospital Dining Experience


Tim Sanford
Editor@vendingtimes.net

- Aramark Healthcare Management Services has announced the launch of its healthcare retail foodservice strategy called "Customer Close-up." The new program is based on industry-leading research into the dining preferences of healthcare employees and visitors.

"Customer Close-up" is a strategy that incorporates menus, recipes and brands, with space design and merchandising to improve on-site dining facilities and increase use among hospital consumers. The program was developed from 700 interviews with healthcare employees across the country; focus group input from a cross-section of customers; and feedback from 40,000 customer insight surveys conducted at Aramark HMS client locations.

"The value this program brings to our hospital partners is significant," said John Babiarz, president of Aramark HMS. "We are in a position to help hospitals understand their customers in a way that has not been previously available , enabling us to develop retail dining options that incrementally improve employee satisfaction and the overall satisfaction of those visiting the hospital."

Key "Customer Close-up" research findings include the fact that more than 75% of all people dining in hospitals are hospital employees. Presently, according to Aramark, hospitals are capturing fewer than 50% of employee dining opportunities. And, if customer needs are better met, an increase of more than $10 million in retail food service revenue could be realized per week at hospitals across the U.S. Increasing on-site dining usage also was found to build job satisfaction and contribute to employee retention.

Additionally, Aramark's "Customer Close-up" research categorizes retail dining customers into five healthcare dining style segments.

"Healthies" find a healthy lifestyle important, thus healthful choices (including low-fat and low-carb) could encourage them to eat more meals on-site; "Loyals" are more satisfied and more loyal than any other group. This group agrees that on-site dining facilities should be "fun" places to meet with co-workers.

"Bringers," or "brown baggers," are driven by convenience and value. New dining options, if properly priced, could increase on-site dining among bringers "Refuelers" are a dining group that often feels rushed. They eat because they have to and are twice as likely to be male.

"Skippers" make up the smallest percent of customers. This group, which skips meals altogether, offers the least growth potential regarding on-site dining.

"Customer Close-up" was scheduled to roll out to Aramark HMS's foodservice clients throughout March. Each client has an opportunity to review the research and program details, and schedule a consultation regarding how the program can impact their respective hospitals. Additionally, Aramark HMS is conducting annual surveys at each of its retail food accounts so that customized menus can be developed to meet the specific demographics for each hospital.

"Hospitals are expected to add more and more retail options to make life easier for time-pressed staff and visitors; and to provide 'oasis' environments that encourage relaxation and renewal in light of the stresses they face," Babiarz said. "Aramark Healthcare Management Services believes that 'Customer Close-up' will help hospitals better adjust to consumerism and aid them in developing creative, on-site retail food concepts that drive satisfaction, revenue and profitability."

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