Despite the struggle restaurateurs have faced in recent years, fast casual restaurants are a growing segment of the market, and families are a large part of their business. Even though restaurant traffic is down overall by four per cent, fast-casual traffic has seen an increase of 9 per cent in the last three years.
In this highly competitive space, how can your restaurant stand out and attract more visits from families? Appealing to parents means engaging everyone at the table, including the littlest members of the family.
Market with your menu
Make your menu top of mind! Often, even though there may be one available, restaurants don’t highlight their kids’ menu, tucking it away at the back of the menu, or offering it as a completely separate menu, upon request. Encourage your team to talk up the menu, making sure that parents know about it and its features.
Kids know what they want, so being accommodating will score you points with the whole family. Offer a variety of menu options, with possible substitutions, for the pickier eaters in the crowd. Including choices to accommodate common dietary restrictions or allergies will also help families feel more comfortable when they visit.
Studies show that parties with children aged 12 and under bring in cheques that double those without kids of that age, so if you’re not focused on kid-friendly marketing, you could be missing the mark. Don’t underestimate kids as a target market; if they love your menu, they will ask their parents to come back.
Make your menu fun and interesting for kids, so they want to return! This is a win-win for parents, who can appreciate a break while their children are otherwise engaged.
Stand out from your competition with creative ways to keep kids busy. Offering a toy or prize can keep children occupied while they wait for their order, but they will also be reminded of your restaurant when they play with that toy at home. Some restaurants even hire entertainment for busier hours when wait times might be longer.
From your team to your tables, keep families and their needs top of mind. Stocking up on family essentials will make you their go-to restaurant. Here are a few simple tips for
- Have booster seats and highchairs on hand for easy seating.
- Use cups with lids, small utensils, and plastic plates to avoid accidents and spills.
- Offer changing stations and stock washrooms with supplies like diapers and wipes to make it more convenient for parents.
Appealing to more families means prioritizing their needs and making them feel like part of your family, building loyalty and long-lasting relationships for your restaurant at the same time.