The summer is winding down, and that means, for many, it’s time to think about heading back to school. Here are some tips for driving traffic and engaging with students and teachers in September and beyond.

Boo-Hoo / Woo-Hoo Breakfast

The elementary school my daughter attends always hosts a “Boo-Hoo Breakfast” on the first day of school for parents to grab coffee and a bite to eat and socialize. For some, it’s a teary-eyed goodbye to their kindergarteners, and for others it’s a celebration of getting the kids out of the house after a long summer.

Look at the public and private school calendars in your area and identify which week most kids will be going back to school, and then create an offering to capture traffic of parents coming home from drop-off in the mornings. You can create easy to-go breakfast items like a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit; or come up with some options for folks who want to camp for a while and get some work done. There are plenty of ways to take advantage of this customer base — it all depends on what works best for your brand!

Teacher Appreciation

Teachers work so hard, and we can all agree they deserve more credit and compensation. Show some love to the teachers with discounts and promos just for them. Whether it’s a percentage discount for the month of September or a free app with the purchase of an entrée, find something that rewards these folks for the work they do, and you’ll develop a loyal following.

Student ID Discount

If you’re in a location that gets a lot of student traffic, perhaps near a college campus, consider offering a discount with a student ID. You could even build it into a loyalty program for students because many students tend to stick to the same few spots around campus for meals. Savings go a long way when you’re a student, so creating a discount and/or loyalty program will mean a lot to this audience.

Connect with PTA

The PTA can be a great resource for connecting with schools and tapping into consumers there. One way to support the PTA of a particular school while driving traffic to your business is to create a give-back night where a portion of proceeds from that night’s sales support the school’s PTA. You’ll get a lot of exposure as the PTA promotes the event to every family in the school, and you’ll have an opportunity to connect with new customers. Work with the PTA to see if there are other opportunities to provide a benefit to them (like providing food for schoolwide events, teacher work days, etc) throughout the year to keep the good spirits going.

After School Happy Hour

Much like the morning crowd, there’s a new traffic pattern created by parents picking up their kids after school. Consider creating options that appeal to parents AND kids in an after-school happy hour. Remember, parents will be more likely to stop in if there’s something exciting for their kids to enjoy too, so think about fun riffs on afterschool snacks that are both kid and grown-up friendly, and create a few mocktails and cocktails for parents and kids to enjoy together. You may also want to offer dinner to-go around this time too. Consider options that travel and reheat well, creating a one-stop solution for busy parents.

Good Grade Rewards

As the school year moves forward, one way to get guests in the door is to offer rewards for good report cards. Encourage families to bring in a report card or graded assignment for a free dessert. It’s a nominal reward that will bring in more business while making your customers feel special and appreciated.

Social Media Contests

Because students are so often on their phones and on social media, creating a social media contest can be a great way to connect with that audience. Develop a limited-time contest where customers share a picture of their experience for a chance to win a gift certificate. Then sit back and enjoy the social media engagement from the demographic that does it best!

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