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Building a private label foodservice program is an excellent way to extend your personal brand, especially with loyal customers that already love your business. The program can create a personal experience for loyal shoppers and extends the trust you’ve already earned through stellar customer service and great products.

Private label programs do require extra work and preparation than a branded program more times than not. The control and support from a branded program are traded for flexibility and personability.

If you are considering adding or expanding a private label program for your grocery business, these five tips can help you get started:

1. Build a Great Staff

A foodservice program is made based on the knowledge and training of its staff. It’s essential to create a training program that helps every employee understand all of the facets of a program, from food prep and safety to ordering and customer interaction.

Building a robust training program and ensuring your team is bought into the products will ensure your customers always get excellent service and fantastic food. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to serve food that you and your staff enjoy eating.

2. Be Aware of the Relevant Foodservice Regulations

It’s on you to ensure you are following the correct regulations such as food safety and caloric menu requirements. The FDA offers multiple tools and resources that you can use to monitor recalls and regulations for your staff.

Beyond knowing what regulations you must follow, it’s important to understand what your competitors must follow. For example, at the time of this publication, adding caloric information to your menus isn’t required until your brand has 20 or more locations. You might not have to adhere to this regulation, but your competitors may need to comply. Health-minded consumers will like to see how many calories their meal will be, so you might want to consider adding calories to your menu to better compete locally.

3. Lean Into the Flexibility of a Private Label Program

This tip comes with a caveat. You need to provide food with consistent quality, variety and quantity. No foodservice program can be successful without this, yet a private label program offers you more flexibility in what you can do.

Where a branded program will have requirements for your product mix and what you cannot serve in the same program, your private label can get creative. If you want to supplement your fried chicken program with weekly specials, such as Taco Tuesday, you can do so. Lean into what your local customers want — that’s the strength of extending your brand after all — as you continue to bring the same trustworthy service they’ve come to expect!

4. Find a Partner with Consistent Quality

Ensuring your quality stays consistent month-to-month requires constant vigilance and proper training, yet finding the right partner can help tremendously. When choosing a vendor for your foodservice program, don’t settle for anyone who can’t prove they can control the quality of the food before it arrives at your store.

Focusing on size, shape, and tenderness of fried chicken, for example, ensures that you don’t end up with a batch that suddenly looks different than customers are expecting. It makes sure that, whether they come into your store weekly or every four months, they always know what to expect.

5. Build a Marketing and Promotions Plan for Your Deli Program

Building a private label program, as opposed to a branded franchise program, means that you aren’t getting the existing brand awareness that comes with a program like Champs Chicken. This means you might need to get creative with your promotions strategy. Planning this upfront helps to ensure your customers know about a new program, special promotions, or just new products.

Think outside the box. If you have a loyal customer base, you probably know what they like. That might mean sponsoring the local basketball team that goes to the state championship every year or buying signage at a busy intersection. Put creative flyers in the local mailers or consider bag stuffers. Think about adding signage and advertisements to your carts and cart corrals, too!

Experiment and don’t forget to try digital advertising, it’s a great way to use a limited budget, especially focusing on geographically targeted ads in your local area!

Conclusion

Private label programs are a fantastic way to extend what your customers already love about you. They offer a lot of flexibility and opportunity to continue to grow your business. Always focus on giving your customers more of what they love and great quality food.

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