The Duck Patrol

Believe it or not, the decision as to where to dine is often made by the kids. Do you think that the happy meal happened by chance? Kids often influence the choice of food venues because they like or have fun at the establishment. Though they don’t account for a large part of the total check, they are the ones who bring parents and family along. How you treat these diminutive customers spells the difference e between adding dollars to the bottom line and having an empty dining room on school nights. Do not overlook these customers and instead turn them into an asset.

             At one of our restaurants, which is near sports fields and multiple kid friendly activities, we offer that Kids eat free off the kids menu with an adult purchase. We made the offer Tuesday through Thursday nights. These are the nights where families are trying to get all of the activities in and still get the youngsters home in time for a good nights sleep. We have a fun paper kids menu for the kids to color and occupy themselves while the parents enjoy dinner and a beverage or two. But aren’t we giving away food? Sure, a cheese quesadilla, two Kiddie burgers and some chicken tenders. But we drive traffic early in the evening and a lot of times create a tradition where the family knows that on Wednesday nights after soccer practice, they are coming in to have dinner with us. If the kids yell loudly enough about us when the parents ask where they want to go, we get them in for other nights as well. Be sure to thank them for coming and remind them that the kids will love our strawberry waffles with whipped cream at our Sunday morning brunch after church. And, when we found out that a lot of the families were coming from a particular Gymnastics school, we went over and dropped off flyers for folks who did not know about us.

             But that wasn’t the question was it? This started with talking about the Duck Patrol. At one of our units, I purchased a box of assorted “rubber Ducks”. Green, purple, pink, unicorn, striped, and all sorts of looks. I put them in a basket and when little ones come in, I walk around with the Duck patrol and invite them to pick a duck. NOW, never pick the duck for them. It is half the fun for the kids to pick. They love the process and the surprise. They cost me about 20 cents each and the impact is priceless. I had an instance recently where a little one was crying and making a ton of noise, but one visit from the Duck Patrol and we had one happy camper! They are plastic and last forever. Whenever the parents see the little one playing with the duck, they are going to remember you. When the kids are asked where they want to go again, they want another duck and so we get the repeat business.

             It may not be a rubber duck. Maybe a cow. A moose, or something that speaks to your concept. But think about making sure that you are marketing to the young ones. A billion Happy meals can’t be wrong!

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