The FDA issued a recall for one of your best-selling products, and news of it is all over social media and television. What should you do, how do you answer questions from guests? Is it time to give up and compromise? Do they even care about you?
The FDA actually recalls food products every three days on average. Did you not realize that? Most food related recalls are so small reporters don’t care because it is not “big enough” news. Since 2010, there have been 675 distinct recalls involving anywhere from a few hundred pounds to millions of pounds of food. When a recall occurs and whether it involves your particular brand’s products or your entire product line are the real issues, not IF a recall occurs.
Even those who weren’t specifically promoting Sabretts were affected by the summer 2017 Sabretts recall. What ought a peddler to do?
1. Establish connections with your suppliers, regional social media influencers, and local radio and television news outlets RIGHT NOW, BEFORE a recall. These people are already in your pocket in the event of a recall.
2. Check your stock and, if necessary, make arrangements for a supply of a secure product. If the product is contaminated, get in touch with your supplier for pickup and credit instructions.
3. If you sold the recalled brand, be prepared for inquiries and complaints. Make contact with your insurance provider and request information on how to file a complaint regarding a recalled product. Pay close attention to the directions.
4. Sales will likely be slower than usual. Expect very slow sales if you previously promoted the brand. Use social media posts to explain the recall and the steps you’re taking to make sure your guests are eating safe food in order to offset the decline in sales.
5. Increase your social media posting frequency and give discounts in exchange for likes and shares of your food-related content. In the comment sections, be prepared to respond to any inquiries about the recall in a polite manner.
6. Bring a lunch of your delectable cuisine to a nearby radio or television station. If the recall is “big” news you could ask to be interviewed showing the human-interest side of corporate recalls and the impact on a small local business.
7. To draw attention to your safe product, create signage that is easy to see. Enjoy the recall and demonstrate that you are on top of the situation.
8. Be alert and active when around your truck, trailer, or cart. Get attention and offer samples of “safe” products.
9. If you can, let the recalled (safe) product remain hidden for a while. If you have a sizable menu, highlight various products. Temporarily, think about switching brands. Really concentrate on number 4 if your truck or cart displays the brand logo.
10. Use your guest loyalty program to reward repeat business by giving out extra punches on cards, bonus points on electronic loyalty programs, or other rewards. Offer a substantial discount or come with a free drink, bag of chips, or dessert. Sacrifice short term profits (read as “reduce profit margins” NOT “take a loss”) to keep your cash flowing. To weather the storm, simply control the numbers.
The worst thing to do is nothing at all. It won’t get better tomorrow to mope about how hard things are getting and how slow things were today or yesterday. Talk to everyone within hearing distance about food safety and how serious your cart or trailer operation is about it. If you were aware of the recall PRIOR to it being reported, brag about it. Display the container or packaging with accurate manufacturing dates. Print out the email from FSIS that lists your product’s safe date as well as the contaminated manufacture dates. Simply prepare yourself; you’ll make it!