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Setting Prices at a Family Restaurant

Family Restaurant Prices: Deals vs. Value

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When eating out as a family, the price can go up 30 to 100 percent over what it costs for a single or couple. That’s why families are attracted to restaurants in the fast casual sector with kids’ menu options, specials including 2-for-$20, drink included or kids-eat-free. Coupons, Groupons and "deals" are also quite popular with this crowd.

Here are some ideas for playing the family restaurant "price is right" game to win more frequent sales, more loyal customers and more families.

Ask Your Customers

Instead of playing guess what is comfortable for your customers to pay, ask them. Offer a free entree or kid's meal as incentive to take a strategically worded survey. Clearly, your questions depend on your restaurant, but here are some ideas:
  • What do you typically pay for a family meal out? Under $15, $15-$20, $20-$25, $25-$30, or more than $30?
  • When does your family eat out? Only on special occasions, 1-2 times per week, 2-3 times per week, or 3 or more times a week?
  • Where do you usually dine? Fast food, sit-down, family-friendly, takeout, or fine dining?
  • Do you look at “specials” as a good value for your family?
  • What pricing options attract your attention? 2-for-1 deals, bundles/packages, kids eat free, 2-for $20?
  • Do you participate in social media? Would be you like to get “deals” via text, Facebook or Twitter?
  • If we were to send you “deals,” what is the most attractive offer—percentage off, free entree, free kids meal, buy-1-get-1-free, or $25 for $10?
  • Would you “check in” with your mobile phone or smartphone to get deals on location? Do you think this would affect where dined with your family?

Testing the Price Promotions

If you are going to dive into the “deals” category, be prepared for the circus. Once you deal, it’s hard to go back to the expectations of pricing without the discount.

Before you head down this road, you need to do three things: Complete the customer survey on family restaurant prices, food cost everything on your menu and food cost every special, deal or price promotion you plan to run. You need to do this to see where the break even point is and how much volume a promotion will have to drive.

Alternatives to the "Deals" Game

You don't have to go down the coupon or discount route to maintain a relationship and drive more sales in your restaurant. By getting creative with your menu design and pricing strategy, you can illustrate value effectively.
  • Create a daily specials menu. You don’t have to dramatically decrease the price to run a special. Including the drink or the side in the price can add value.
  • Create a mix and match menu. Give your customers value, healthier options and variety with a flat price mix and match menu. Limit selections to higher profit margins to keep costs in line.
  • Follow the tapas trend. Many restaurants are adding the option of half or "small plate" portions to drive more sales. It’s an effective strategy that increases the value of your brand instead of discounting it to your customers. Just remember to market these effectively via your sales team.

Written by: Amanda Brandon

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