Back-to-school marks the start of busy weeks full of late-night study sessions, shuffling the kids to extra-curriculars, and weekend sporting events. By promoting specials that can make mealtime easier on busy families, college students, and — of course — the teachers, your business will get high marks.
Rise and Shine
If your establishment is open early enough, consider running a special that will start the day off right for students and staff. Run it from open until about 10 a.m., and you'll catch everyone involved in the carpool line. Quick grab-n-go items are essential for speedy service: a wrapped egg sandwich stuffed with cheese and veggies on your famous sourdough, a steamy scoop of steel-cut oats with nuts and fruit served in compostable cups with lids, or a power smoothie complete with fruit, greens, and protein powder.
Also, experiment with a limited-time latte that can only be ordered during those initial hours, or a "Back to School" loyalty punch card where customers get a punch for every drink purchased before school. You'll be the place for a morning fuel up in no time.
Many students get to go off-campus for lunch these days. Offer quick lunchtime combo deals that cater to their tastes: an enticing pizza-by-the-slice lineup of pies — including gluten-free crust and vegan cheese options; a variety of bento boxes filled with cheese, smoked meats, fruit, veggies, homemade hummus, and more. Snacking throughout the day was the norm for a lot of kids getting schooled at home during Covid, with their parents working from home; now it's carried over, so get creative with snack packs!
Another important factor to consider is time, and the fact that groups will often go out together. Ensure you have your menu online along with an easy online ordering platform, so kids can order from their phones. That way their food will be ready when they get there. This goes for teachers too, who may order in and eat with other staff in the lounge, or who might want to order boxed lunches for in-school conferences and meetings. Offer a promo code that gives them a discount for multiple orders online.
Performance has partnered with top digital solution companies to help streamline this process. One Source partner Menufy, for example, builds custom-branded online ordering, assisting you in creating your own system and website that is integrated with leading POS and delivery partners.
After School Special
Designate your after-school hours from 2-4, a non-alcoholic "Appy Hour" for high schoolers. Offer students who might want to hold a study group or chill with friends after school discounts on appetizers and drinks. This would also be a good timeframe to serve a couple healthy grab-n-go options for kids who need some quick healthy fuel in between class and practice.
If you've got a big college demographic, pitcher specials on beer along with half-priced apps are always a great move. Think of ways you can stand out from other places running similar Happy Hours. Include mocktails and NA beers in your specials and fry up baskets of cauliflower wings with your famous homemade sauce. Teachers should be able to get in on the after-school specials as well. A BOGO drink deal with a show of their badge will encourage them to bring an acquaintance, and you can bet appetizers will be in order along with beverages.
Dine In or Dine Out
Many parents have a hard time getting the entire family around the dinner table at once during the school year. Dreaming up promotions that will get the whole family together is a no-brainer for attracting more business to your restaurant. Serve a full Sunday family-style menu that encourages everyone to eat together — whether dine in or dine out. A whole roast chicken, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, fresh rolls, the whole nine yards. Any leftovers can be divvied up for lunches for the week.
Another offering that doubles as a great Sunday evening family activity is a meal kit to cook at home. This trend also grew during the pandemic when most places offered take-out only. Now it's a great opportunity to keep your establishment as a known dining option, even when fewer people are going out. Setting up a pre-order option for online orders is a great idea to ensure preparedness.
Mondays are also a good time for family dinner promotions. Everyone's had an adjustment coming off the weekend and heading into the busy school and work week. Offer a special so they won't feel the need to cook. You can offer deals on kids’ meals — some go as far as younger kids eat free — or BOGO kids meals are another option.
In the weeks leading up to the start of the season, hold a school supply donation special, where guests get a discount or freebie with every donation. Whatever is gathered during the timeframe gets donated to a local school and everyone wins. In a similar vein, fill a backpack with awesome new supplies, and a gift card and sweet swag from your business. Hold a social media giveaway where every follow, like, and share gains an entry to the drawing.