School’s out so get the kids in
With the long summer holidays approaching, there is an enormous opportunity for caterers to tap in to the lucrative family market and offer food and activities that appeal to both parents and children.
Play happy families this summer holiday without deterring other customers
Many establishments resist being labelled ‘child friendly’ as the term can sometimes put off potential customers. Rather than being pigeon-holed we look at how you can respond to the needs of all customers and resist the temptation of focusing on just one demographic. The trick is to look at your potential market and target your offering accordingly.
Here are Take Stock’s fantastic five tips for family catering success
1 Base your menu on feedback
Instead of guessing what children want to eat and what their mums will let them – ask them! This enables you to formulate dishes and a menu that you know will sell. Ensure you offer healthy options and take a tip from the continent where family eating is the norm. Restaurants overseas often offer their full menu in half portion sizes. The Cross Keys in Holbeck, Leeds encourages youngsters to eat properly prepared fresh food which is often just a small version from the adult menu. The most popular children’s meal is Little Cottage Pie which sells for £4.95 against the adult version which costs £9.
2 Inject some fun
Children love interesting menus – so include colour, characters and make the dish descriptions sound fun. They often respond well to photographs as descriptions of dishes can be hard to understand, but a photo shows exactly what the dish is. First Choice Food Service makes it easy to cater for kids with its children’s favourites including own brand Fairway burgers and other staples such as McCain chips.
3 Look at ‘zoning’
To avoid putting off customers without children, why not create an area just for families? This way noise is contained in one area. Some pubs now have indoor play areas to keep children entertained – which means happy parents who will stay and spend more! To make the most of the summer months, why not invest in an outdoor play area with bespoke equipment. Make ‘pester power’ work for you, as children will beg their parents to return to eat at places they enjoy.
4 Chase profit opportunities
Families and children can be an excellent source of revenue. In addition to meals, drinks, snacks and sweets are an area where you can make good profit. Post mix syrups make ten times their original price for example and the profit potential on confectionary and other snacks is good. Look at your market and tailor your products accordingly. For more upmarket establishments, look at offering more niche products that demand a premium price, such as organic and sugar free products. For drinks, most Fairway members offer Belvoir Presses and Fentiman’s traditional bottled drinks such as Ginger Beer and Victorian Lemonade. For more mainstream outfits, look to the major brands for product ideas. Cadbury, Nestle and Mars have mass market appeal and are ideal for impulse purchases. They frequently give help with point of sale material too.
5 Provide activitiesfor children
Keep children busy and entertained. Offer activities like colouring to keep them occupied at the table and think outside of the box when it comes to entertainment. Magicians, activities such as pottery painting, treasure hunts and face painting are all popular with families. You could consider launching a Saturday kids club in a spare function room, where families can eat and drink and children are entertained with DVDs and videos. The Cross Keys in Holbeck, Leeds did just that, as manager Paul explains, “It’s free and means we are utilising space which is never used on a Saturday.”
The Saddle Inn in Preston installed play equipment, a skittle alley, mini soccer pitch, putting green, aviary, pet’s corner and pony paddock and provided a range of games and pastimes to keep little ones entertained in the pub. It has become one of the most popular family pubs in Lancashire and won awards for its family-friendly approach.