June 20, 2016

4 Tips for Promoting Your Restaurant to Families

Families enjoy going out to eat for the sense of bonding.

Over the last several weeks, we’ve published a series of articles explaining how restaurant owners can engage certain groups of people. Millennials, for instance like sustainable cooking and exploring eateries through social media. Baby Boomers, meanwhile, are more interested in finding great deals and seeking places with comfortable ambiance.

“Families spend as much as $225 per month on eating out.”

But it’s also important to try and engage another group, one that’s a bit more diverse: families. While the average American family still eats most meals at home (per a 2013 Gallup poll), they spend more than their single counterparts – as much as $225 per month according to The Simple Dollar.

Getting families into your restaurant’s doors can be a huge boost for business, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a bit of a challenge. Here are four tips to help snag the family demographic:

1. Make families feel wanted
With two to three children to feed, your average family unit is concerned about value as much as the Boomer crowd. That’s why the National Restaurant Association suggested establishing a family night once a week. If you run a casual-dining restaurant, promotions like “kids eat free” will be a huge draw for thrifty families. Plus, knowing that restaurants appeal to families will lure in even more groups. Just be sure you pick a night that works for families; the NRA suggested Mondays, though anything aside from the weekend will be optimal. Promotions shouldn’t be just about saving money either, and instead should make families consider your restaurant an extension of their daily lives.

2.  Focus on the children
The adults may pay the bill, but if the kids are happy and quiet during a meal, the family may be more likely to become repeat customers. Some restaurants create a kid-centric atmosphere, perhaps with play areas or tabletop games. If you don’t want that for your restaurant, something as simple as a separate menu for kids may work. In fact, according to a 2007 report from Technomic, 90 percent of full service restaurants have kids-only menus. However, as GrubHub explained, there are a few key elements to keep in mind when designing a kids’ menu, including the importance of substitutions (for those picky eaters), maintaining an appealing theme and offering healthy choices.

3. No, really, keep kids in mind
Even if you don’t want to add a playroom to your restaurant, the Family Hospitality Group suggested that all restaurants provide some form of activities for the kiddies. That could be crayons and drawing pads, placemats with little games or puzzles, or even just colorful cups. These measures are as much for adults – as a means of distraction and to keep noise levels down – as they are for kids. With children playing quietly, adults are able to focus on enjoying the meal, and this kind of reprieve can be a deciding factor on whether parents return. In their research, the FHG found that 72 percent of adults become repeat visitors to those restaurants with kid-friendly activities.

“Kid diners need a lot of attention.”

4. Prepare your staff
Serving a family of four is much different than a group of of millennials or a Baby Boomer couple. Wait staff need to find ways to cater to the unique needs of most families. Kids, especially, need a lot of attention, and many of them want to be part of the process. Little gestures like letting them order can keep these tykes happy, and that means a better dining experience overall. It’s also important that wait staff know to fulfill family-specific requests, like bigger tables for extended groups or a feeding chair for babies. All of this makes your spot a true destination for families.