Families are a key demographic and revenue source for restaurants. In fact, family meals represent nearly 23% of food service occasions. Therefore, it is imperative that restaurant operators take the necessary steps to make each family visit an enjoyable and memorable experience. Creating good memories is an investment that will pay ongoing dividends for restaurant operators by generating increased traffic with new family visits and by converting occasional patrons into loyal, repeat customers.
Hence, restaurant marketing strategies have changed significantly over the years as the behaviour and expectations of families have evolved. What worked well several years ago generally doesn’t work that well anymore.
Here are some easy tips we believe every restaurant, big or small, should follow to attract more family customers.
1 - Focus on the kids’ menu
The best way to make families realize your restaurant is friendly to children is to provide kids’ menus. Try to create healthy and balanced dishes for children with different portions and ingredients that will score points with children and parents alike. Remember that today’s parents are very attentive to the health of their children and will not be easily swayed by a promotion on carbonated soft drinks. However, to be certain the little ones will love their menu and will ask their parents to return to your restaurant, also include some delicious desserts!
2 - Transform your kids’ menu into an activity book
Another way to make families understand that your restaurant is welcoming to families is to create kids’ menus that are filled with games and activities. Create a branded kids’ booklet which includes the menu along with various games, activities, crayons and fun facts about your restaurant’s history or geographical surroundings. Ideas could include anything from an awesome alligator adventure in Florida, to a cool hiking caper in the Colorado mountains! This will provide your younger guests with the entertainment they are looking for and allow parents some quiet time to enjoy their meal.
3 - Promote your kids’ menu online
Parents of young children, particularly millennial parents, do not want to wander from one restaurant to another to find services and menus suitable for children. Instead, they prefer to check online first. Help them select your restaurant by promoting it online along with a website full of information, including all menus. Another key communication channel is social media. Build out a forward social media calendar with suitable content targeting the family segment, keeping your posts interactive, sharing updates and responding quickly to parents’ questions.
4 - Build a kid friendly interior design
A kid friendly interior design is another great way to build a welcoming atmosphere and engage with your younger customers. Wooden high chairs for babies, cutlery for older kids, paper bibs, paper cups with funny designs, and ideally creative meal containers are some of the essentials you will need to entertain these young guests. Further, if you offer a buffet option in the menu, you can create a space for children where the food is presented at their height, allowing them to independently serve themselves. It will visually show that you are a kid friendly restaurant and ready to welcome kids and families.
5 - Offer gift cards and e-coupons
Although it may seem like an outdated marketing strategy, data shows it works. I cannot count the number of times I or someone I know went to a restaurant just because we had an e-coupon and then discovered that the restaurant is perfect for dining with kids. Coupons, and particularly e-coupons are an effective strategy to increase new customer traffic.
6 - Organize themed events
Entertainment events for kids are an undeniable force in today’s restaurant industry. In fact, they have become a great incentive for families to choose your restaurant over a competitor and allow you to build deeper relationships with your family customers. Some fun ideas to include in your event could be a face make-up booth, balloons in animal shapes, print games and paper toys for the younger ones. Your creativity will be your best ally, but you can rely also on the support of creative marketing agencies to help you design and build fun and memorable events.
7 - Hire the right staff
The human element is another key factor in creating a memorable customer experience. Ensuring you have 5-star staff who are professional and passionate is vital! Seeing happy, smiling employees does wonders for your reputation as customers, and particularly families, love to be served by a joyful staff.
Exceptional employees also provide major reputation points as fans will spread the word and newcomers will be encouraged to visit when they see trusted sources celebrating your restaurant.