Today I’d like to share the 5 most frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) that we get. Chances are you’ve wondered about these questions too at some point, so please read on to discover the answers:
Question 1: How do we make sure our kids’ menu stands out from the crowd?
Provide a wide range of menu options for kids, including the basic items you’d expect to see on a kid’s menu, including hamburgers, grilled cheese, and hot dogs, but also featuring some unique items kids aren’t likely to be offered in other family restaurants.
For example, if you run a steakhouse, serve mini portions of your most popular cuts along with French fries and sauteed vegetables. If you specialize in seafood, offer them popcorn shrimp or half orders of your esteemed steamed clams. If you run an Italian restaurant, offer kid-sized portions of your lasagna or fettuccine Alfredo with a mini green salad and garlic bread.
Also make sure to include healthy options on your kids’ menu as this is all-important with many parents these days. Include soup, salads, and vegetable side-dishes. This will appeal in particular to moms who are increasingly saying they want healthier options on menus for their kids to choose from.
Question 2: How can we create a more kid-friendly ambiance?
There’s no denying it — kids love going to visit places that are visually interesting, such as theme restaurants like the Rainforest Cafe or the Hard Rock Cafe.
But you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in order to create an atmosphere kids will love. You can easily pick up some fabulous decorative items at flea markets or garage sales that will fascinate children and make your restaurant stick out in young minds.
Possible items to look for include:
- Cheap fish tanks — Kids are fascinated by fish and will watch them contentedly for many minutes. If you pick up a few tanks and display them in strategic locations around the restaurant, the kids will love them and their parents will appreciate the chance to relax and enjoy their meals as their children are entertained by the fish.
- Movie posters — One very popular neighborhood restaurant we visit has papered its walls entirely with movie posters, old and new. Kids love going there because there are so many interesting pictures to look at.
- Cool collectibles — Kids of all ages love to look at cool collectible knick knacks, such as old toys and action figures. By displaying them around the room, you give kids something to look at and identify with.
- Super hero paraphernalia — Super heroes such as Batman, Superman, and Spiderman are more popular with kids than ever. Choose a super hero universe and use its characters to decorate some areas of your business. Obviously don’t go overboard!
- Monster paraphernalia — Same as above, but with a monster theme instead a super hero theme for your decor. Always a hit.
- Old TVs you can use to play DVDs of popular kids shows — If you aren’t already using TVs in your restaurant, here’s your chance. Hunt for a couple of cheap TVs and DVD players and then set them up around the restaurant and play popular kids shows on them. One restaurant we know of has a “kids night” where they set up a long table with a video playing at the end. Community dining and a movie, what could be more fun for kids!
- A toy train running around the perimeter of the restaurant. Granted, this idea isn’t an easy one to pull off. But it is definitely an effective way to captivate children and make your business stand out in their minds. My own daughters still talk about sushi that came with various boat and train delivery methods and that was quite a while ago!
A good thing about this strategy is that it’s something you can build on over time¦ and when your customers come back for future meals they will be excited to see what new dÃ©cor touches you have added to your scenery. Kind of like seasonal decor but why wait for a holiday to change it up?
Question 3: What’s the Best Way to Deal with Complaints?
No matter how hard you try, you are not going to please all of your customers all of the time. There will be customers who are disappointed with their experience at your restaurant.
There are two ways these customers might let you know how they’re feeling:
- They will either tell you or your staff to your face that they didn’t have a great dining experience, or
- They will post a negative review about your restaurant on a popular review site, such as Yelp.com or Citysearch.com.
If they tell you or your staff that they didn’t enjoy their meal, refund part of their bill, apologizing for their sub-standard experience, and offer them two-for-one coupons they can use on a future trip to the restaurant. This is a great way to win back their patronage and avoid losing a customer for life, which is more expensive comparatively.
If you come across a negative review on a site such as Yelp.com or Citysearch.com, respond to them immediately. Add a comment to the complaint, addressing it from your own name and include your position within your company. Politely apologize for your customer’s less than great experience and tell them that you’re taking their criticism to heart and working to improve things in that regard. This goes a long way with readers.
By addressing complaints publicly and with genuine humility, you will impress people with your desire to improve and do what you can to please your customers.
You might even consider sending personal messages to the people who posted the complaints, offering them a special 2-for-1 discount meal so you can get them back in your store and show them how you’ve improved since their last visit. If you can manage to impress the heck out of them and win them back as a regular customer, the word-of-mouth advertising they will help spread for you will be HUGE.
And if you’re lucky, they’ll go back to that review site and post a new, positive review. Not only will this cancel out the previous negative review, it will also help win over a bunch of new customers who read the two reviews and are impressed by lengths you’re willing to go in order to make sure your customers have a great dining experience.
Question 4: What’s more effective, Facebook or email?
The fact is, both Facebook and email can be effective marketing channels for your business if used properly. See which works best for you. At first it may seem like slow going when you only have 50 or 70 members, but with steady effort and the right encouragement you can get your list up to 1,000 or 2,000 and THEN you’ll be feeling the impact for sure.
We recommend you start your online marketing efforts with Facebook, just because it’s so easy to set up a page and use it to communicate with your customers right away. It’s also a great place for you to develop your online voice and also talk to your customers and find out what’s important to them.
Then, once you feel you’ve figured out how to use Facebook effectively, we recommend you dive into email and see how the two communication channels measure up against each other.
- Is it easier for you to build up your Facebook contacts list, or your email contact list?
- When you send a promotion out via Facebook and email, which channel yields the highest conversion rate?
The answers to these questions will help you figure out which is the most effective communication channel for your business.
Question 5: What are the best freebies to give to kids?
There are so many different small items you can give out to your child diners in order to keep them busy having fun while they wait for their meal. The best are small gifts the kids can bring home with them as well, so that every time they see it they remember the great time they had at your restaurant.
Here are some ideas¦
- Wax play string that can be bent into shapes and stuck to paper like these.
- Small cars
- Plastic cups or glasses with your logo (here are some great examples)
- Trendy collectibles, such as Silly Bandz
- Take-home activity booklets (check out the great activity booklets at ClassyKidsProducts.com – shameless plug)
- Lollipops for apre-dessert (just make sure you ask mom and dad first, to make sure they’re okay with their kids having a sugary treat)
- Crayon packs (If you want to really stand out, consider offering unforgettable premium crayons, like the triangular crayons you’ll find at shop.familyhospitality.com. We offer the best crayons on the market, bar none.)
So those are the five questions we get asked most often by our subscribers.
Do you have any other restaurant marketing questions you’d like to ask us? Are there any challenges you’re currently experiencing with your business that you need help with?
If so, please leave your questions in the comments section — we’d be happy to help in any way we can.
Meanwhile, keep reading our newsletters for the latest ideas and discover even more valuable information that will help you promote your business more effectively. Let your friends know about us too!