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In many industries, there is a significant uptick in business in the summer. People travel, wander and are eager to spend that hard earned cash from the rest of the year. Moreover, summer break means schools are out as well, so families seek out those long-extended family vacations. How does this affect you as a cafe or bar owner? Think about the summer as an excellent opportunity for your business; with whole families looking for entertainment, lunch, and somewhere to sit in the sun. During the day, your particular establishment could be the perfect stop. 

Here’s how to make the most of this season and attract these new, potential customers.

1. Offer child-friendly food

Parents need to feed their kids, and they need to feed them frequently. Offering a variety of food for all members of a family, but also including affordable food the kids will enjoy is what parents look for. Along with the offer of child-friendly food, you want to ensure you guarantee fast and simple service, high chairs, if possible, and some kind of really basic entertainment (like paper kiddie menus to draw on or crayons and paper on the table). 

You should know that if you make life easy for the parents, they will be back. The data backs this up. In the US, six out of ten consumers say they take into account a restaurant’s family or child friendliness when choosing where to dine, according to Association research. That means they are returning to your place or a competitor’s based simply on their children’s treatment and needs. Just make sure to keep it healthy. In 2019,  healthy kids’ menu options ranked in the top three overall trends in full-service restaurants. 

2. Make your outdoor space appeal

Sitting outside is lovely in the summer. But for families, it has an added appeal. Kids can roam around in an enclosed area, be a little less disruptive outside, and allow parents a chance to relax a bit more. So, if you are wondering what to do with your beer gardens or patio area during the day, this might be a good option. While these areas might be noisy, smoking dens at night, this added purpose means you can boost sales by keeping them running and open during this time of day. So put away the ashtrays, sweep the floor and spruce up that outdoor space for families. 

3. Invite the pooches

Dog-owners love their dogs. And often non-dog owners do too. As long as the dog is well behaved and not a threat to other customers, it might be in your best interest to allow them in your establishment. If there are incidences with a particular dog, be sure to address it early with the owner. A friendly ‘Dogs Welcome’ sign and a few water bowls placed in obvious spots is all it takes. Inviting this particular segment of your customers will ensure they stick around, perhaps even longer than a usual table, since they know their dog is happy and they don’t have to rush home to let them out. You might even have some doggie treats on hand for purchase. Just consider all the pros and cons  of these newest furry clients fully. 

4. Host a family-friendly day or family night

Doing things as a family in the summer is a welcome change from the rest of the year. And one possible way to attract families, might be to host a family day or family night. Games, a BBQ, a bouncy castle, will be welcomed by parents. You might just want to add the family friendly piece into an existing day event you already have planned. Just don’t forget to look for special activities for the kids. It will mean the parents stay longer and spend more too. 

You could similarly designate a family night. Though your hours might be slightly earlier, to attract the parents, you could offer a “kids eat free” promotion or even tie it in with a coupon strategy. The idea is to offer entertainment, cheap prices and whatever else to get parents in the door. Know that if you make a good impression, parents will come back without the kids. Moreover, you can bank on the fact that the kids will remember the event and time spent at your establishment and will be bothering mom and dad to come back. Those little kiddos might be the best marketing and promotion  strategy yet!

5. Open Earlier

Depending on what your existing hours are, know that families eat earlier. Opening at 5.30/6pm instead of 8pm can thus be a huge draw for families. They will be likely to be your first costumers and out to put the kids in bed by the time your singles and couples arrive. That’s a good turnover for a cafe or bar and should not be overlooked. Think about opening earlier for this reason. 

Bearing all this in mind, start to look at all the potential summer offers, as it applies to all possible customers. Sure, drinkers are valuable customers, but don't underestimate the larger tables with plenty of time on their hands (i.e. families) that you can attract with a little effort. They are going to be more likely to order food with their drink as kids get hungry all the time. They also might be the best way to maximize keeping your doors open for more hours of the day since as mentioned, families do eat earlier than other customers.  So think about putting these tips to work and get the added boost to your bottom line this summer. 

Jessica Brown
Jessica is a globally renowned writer specializing in International Relations, Economics and Political Affairs. A graduate from Brown and Cambridge Universities she now focuses on helping small to medium businesses grow their bottom line.
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