There are nearly 700 stand-alone kids’ specials offered in South Carolina. And by stand alone, I mean this: no coupon to clip, no Groupon to buy, no hoops to jump through. Just a daily special offered to families that have children.
This concept of offering a discount for kids is not new. However, increased use of technology, the onset of social media, and our desire to save money, has put the consumer in the driver’s seat when it comes to deals. We are inundated with offers for all types of products and sort through multiple resources to get the most bang for our buck. For restaurants, getting a customer isn’t as easy as it used to be. Retaining a customer is even harder. What can restaurants owners do to gain the edge on their competitors?
Enter the stand-alone kids’ special. The concept is simple. Get mom and/or dad (or babysitter, grandparent) in the door, let their child eat for free, and hope that a large percentage get a more expensive entrée, a cold beer, or perhaps even an appetizer. Better yet, they come back the week after, invite their neighbors to tag along, and share this feel good experience with their friends on Facebook.
Given good food, excellent customer service, and kid friendly atmosphere, the most successful stand-alone kids’ specials have one common thread: consistency.
The best example of this in my hometown of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., is Moe’s Southwest Grill. My son is 9, and I can’t remember a time when Moe’s didn’t have a Tuesday night deal for the kiddos. And talk about risky: Moe’s said we’re giving you 2 free kid’s meals per one adult purchase. I’m thinking they are about 8 years into this offer and have given away about 50,000 kids’ meals. But it works. How many times have you eaten at Moe’s outside of that Tuesday special? Moe’s knows that kids grow up to be teenagers that eat from the adult menu. Moe's knows babies are born everyday to parents that want to save money. (reminder, specials vary by location)
Consumer Tip — If a server tells you they aren't aware of a kid special, ask to speak to a manager or ask that they check with their manager. Often times, they will honor the special if it recently expired, particularly if you are kind and explain that is why you chose their establishment. If they choose not to, let them know you’ll be telling your friends (all 1500 of them on Facebook).
Jennifer Bilbro is the Founder of OutToEatWithKids.com, an online resource and mobile application designed to help families search for economical & healthy children’s meals. Visit OutToEatWithKids.com for more information.