This post has been guest authored by Arleen Atienza.
About the Author:
Arleen Atienza has been writing for several organizations and individuals in the past six years. Her educational background in Psychology and professional experience in corporate enable her to approach a wide range of topics including finance, business, beauty, health and wellness, and law, to name a few.
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Positioning your restaurant as a spot for the whole family is a great way for you to increase revenue. In fact, proactively advertising your restaurant as a family-friendly establishment will not only bring in larger groups (more orders!), but can help place your restaurant as the kids' go-to place when asked by their parents where they want to eat. You can become the perfect backdrop for a family’s milestones, from birthdays to graduations.
So who exactly should you be talking to when marketing your family-friendly restaurant? The answer: both parents and kids! In some families, kids can become the decision-makers on where to eat, so you would need to appeal to them. And parents are technically the ones paying, so convincing them to become patrons of your restaurant is crucial as well. It’s important to position yourself as a place all members of the family can enjoy, bond, and eat good food.
Have a Kid-Friendly Set-up
A kid-friendly setup is also a parent-pleasing setup. Parents will feel more at ease dining at a restaurant that takes the whole family’s needs into consideration. In your table setup, booster seats and high chairs are a must. You can also try investing in meal kits for babies or utensils for smaller hands. This allows the kids to feel more involved in the dining experience while keeping them safe from spills and “grown up” utensils. And as much as you may want to pack more tables to increase your dining capacity, you may want to opt for wider clearance between tables since high chairs and strollers may take up more floor space than regular chairs. A lot of kids may be confused or overstimulated by loud sounds so try reducing the noise in your restaurants like sound-proofing your chairs, noise-absorbing walls, and more.
You should also consider the even littler ones (i.e., babies) in your restaurant setup. You can allocate a separate area to safely stow away strollers in case the babies can handle being in a high chair. Ensure that your washrooms are equipped with diaper changing stations and baby seats. Having these in place means parents don’t have to worry about where to change their baby’s nappy or where to seat their child when they themselves need to go to the toilet.
Entertain the Kiddos
There’s a big chance that a lot of kids might grow bored or fussy while waiting for their meals or during mealtime, so you should find ways to entertain them. If your restaurant’s space is not big enough to accommodate a play area, then let the fun come to the family’s table. Make sure every kid at a table can do something that can keep themselves busy while waiting for their food (for example, a choice between puzzles and coloring sheets). You can also create a kid-sized menu so they can choose their own food from the "kids only" section. On special occasions like Halloween or the start of summer, you can craft simple but well thought-of busy boxes as treats for kids who dine at your restaurant.
Treat the Parents
For some parents, taking the kids out can be quite fun but can also be challenging. So you should reward parents as well. Instead of the usual "Kids Eat Free" promotion, you can have a "Parents Drink Free" option to give it a playful spin — non-alcoholic drinks only, of course! You can also give free appetizers or side dishes to parents dining with kids as a special treat. Depending on your budget, you can run this type of promotion a few times a week to drive traffic to your restaurant on leaner days or hours.
Train Your Employees Well
Restaurant employees are already trained on the ins and outs of food service and hospitality. But you can try and give more emphasis to their demeanor and tone of voice, especially when kids are around. Your employees can help make or break the family’s overall experience at your restaurant. Simple things like knowing where to seat large families or families with babies that might need a quieter spot can help improve the customer experience. Waitstaff must also be trained in how to address children, such as when taking their order and asking them if they need condiments. When addressed respectfully and in a friendly manner, kids feel like they’re really a part of the dining experience and a true customer. Make sure staff know how to interpret both verbal and non-verbal cues from parents to ensure a fun and comfortable atmosphere.
Have Consistent Storytelling Across All Marketing Platforms
Now that you have the first four tips in place, it’s time to solidify your restaurant’s brand as a family-friendly establishment. Marketing is all about storytelling, and it’s important that you tell your restaurant’s story consistently across all platforms, from in-store marketing collateral to your website and social media pages. Establish a tone of voice that’s welcoming to all and use imagery that’s consistent with a family and kid-friendly establishment. Make sure to highlight your thematic promotions ahead of time, so parents know what’s in store for them or can plan their family night out in advance.
Dining out together as a family is a great way for family members to bond. For some kids, these moments can be a beloved part of their childhood that they can take with them into adulthood. Your family-friendly restaurant can be part of these families’ wonderful memories. Who knows? Your restaurant may even be a part of their family tradition for years to come.