With the summer fast approaching, we draw closer and closer to that date that make all parents a bit nervous—the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation. This mass exodus of children from school will inevitably mean one thing—more kids in your store while mom and dad stop in for a caffeine fix. By making your business kid-friendly, you’ll bring in more customers and increase sales.
Unsurprisingly many parents feel the need to get out of the house every once in a while, sip caffeine after all of those sleepless nights of rambunctious kids while simultaneously trying to wear out said kids. While getting some work done or just relishing a few quiet moments to themselves parents are often looking for a place that will keep little ones entertained and safe.
It has been proven that children not only influence the family’s restaurant choice but around 69% of parents will let their child choose their own order. These children are more likely to order a fun and flavorful dessert or specialty beverage than any other menu item.
Debra Dolan, Business Development Representative for the Northeast Region, has many family-friendly customers including large theme parks and small independent coffee shops throughout the country. She’s helped many store owners craft specialty beverage menus with options for younger patrons and successful family-friendly businesses.
A few points of advice based on her years of experience:
Modernize your menu
- Caffeine-free beverages
When deciding what to serve to your pint-sized patrons, there are many options to consider from milk shakes to frappes and smoothies. Stockton Graham & Co. recommends a base menu of chocolate and vanilla frappes or milk shakes plus some familiar fruit flavored options such as strawberry and banana, orange cream, grape and peaches and cream.
- Kid-friendly flavors
Enhance your base menu with shakes or frappes in fun flavors such as Bubblegum, Cotton Candy, Hot Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Cake Batter and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Big Train has a child-friendly drink mix called Kidz Kreamz® with new flavors such as Wild Berry Burst and Banana Splitastic. If you want to offer a healthy twist, add some Dr. Smoothie 100% Crushed Fruit or yogurt before you blend.
- Healthy options
Parents are increasingly concerned about the health of the food and drinks that their children consume. Beverages that are low in sugar and calories, but high in nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber are big sellers. Up the health quotient by adding a bit of protein with a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter. And of course, make sure mom and dad know about these health upgrades!
- Smaller portions
Smaller portion sizes will be easier for younger customers to drink and will cut down on spills. Consider adding a 4 ounce cup for the summer months, in addition to an 8 ounce and 12 ounce cup.
- Child-centered snacking
Adding child-friendly snacks such as cookies or rice crispy treats, as well as veggie trays and yogurt for moms, can help raise average ticket sales and keep the entire family happy.
Keep the kids occupied
- Coloring books or pages
A good idea is to have coloring books or colorable picture pages and boxes of crayons handy to keep grabby hands occupied. Many shop owners frame the art projects of their young customers, which can add to the hand-crafted ambiance of your store.
- Puzzles, dolls and toys
Keep a couple of simple puzzles, plushed animals, toy trucks and dolls on hand for parents who find themselves with fussy kids. If you’re shop is small, you can keep them behind the counter for emergencies. Or if you have room, set up a small “play area” in a corner away from your serving areas and doorways so parents can keep an eye on the kids while they relax nearby with a latte or iced coffee.
Books and coffee shops go hand-in-hand. Experiment with a small lending library of teen books, graphic novels and popular fiction to entertain the older kids (and older kids at heart). Don’t be surprised to find regular patrons donating their own best-sellers to your little community library.
- Kids’ Events
Hosting a Saturday morning story time or some type of weekly afternoon kids entertainment (maybe a balloon artist or mime) is a great way to get the community involved—and that will help boost your sales.
Make service child-proof
- Patience is key
We all know that working with customers comes with its own set of tests—and younger patrons, in particular, can be an adventure. When training your baristas and service personnel, be sure to remind them that young customers can sometimes have a short attention span and a lot of energy. The key is keeping cool when the temperature rises.
- The cleanup
Little hands don’t always have the best aim when it comes to getting food into mouths, and parents juggling bags, cups and kids are prone to spill. Talk to your staff about taking the time to quickly wipe up any mishaps as soon as they happen. You also may consider hiring a local high school student during your busy hours to help with foot traffic and keep your store in tiptop shape.
- Talking the talk
Talk to your baristas and staff about small ways they can help make a visit to your store fun and stress-free for parents with young children. For example, counter staff can hand-deliver coffee to the table of an overwhelmed mother instead of asking her to manage a hot cup and a squealing kid. Or, why not print mini-menus featuring drink pictures to help school-agers make up their minds quickly?
Create an family friendly atmosphere
- Designated child’s area
Creating a child-themed area will give the kiddies a place to expend energy and socialize. Designated play areas allow the adults without children a reasonable amount of peace.
- Keep it light
Keeping your shop lighted with brighter colors is more inviting for the younger set. This decorating theme also signals to parents that children are welcome. They will be most likely to patronize your shop with little ones in tow.
- Make them sing
Whether music is a part of your store’s brand or not, it goes a long way in making your business kid-friendly. Although childhood favorites like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “The Hokey Pokey” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” may not be to your liking, there are other options. Consider “For the Kids,” a compilation of kids’ songs by adult-friendly artists like Darius Rucker, Cake, Wilco, Tom Waits, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan.
By including children in your summer business plans you can both make sure your customers are happy and boost your sales.
For more information on how to kid-proof your business, to speak directly with Debra Dolan or to order kid-friendly ingredients, call our Customer Care Associates at 800 835 5943.