I know this was the case when I was a server, and maybe a lot of you out there are a little more accommodating than I was when a family was seated in your section, but for me, kids were a disappointment.
Kids don’t order $8 martinis, and usually neither do parents when they’re with kids. Plus those are one or two spots at the table you just know is going to order the least expensive entrees on the menu. As a server I never minded actually dealing with the kids, I just knew my tip was going to be lower for that 4-top because ticket average was going to be way down.
What I didn’t realize, and what most managers and restaurant owners may not know, is that kids play a large role in deciding which restaurant to visit. And in an economic situation where parents are limiting the number of times they go out to eat, anything you can do to get your restaurant at the top of the list becomes extremely important.
Patricia Farnham is a long-time restaurateur with a successful restaurant consulting website called Restaurant Pitfalls and Profits. One of the more interesting pieces of advice she provides is training servers to recognize children by name.
Imagine two scenarios: one in which bored kids scribble idly with crayons or sit uncomfortably still while your server and the parents talk about what they want to order in the third person (“And what do they want?”). Now imagine your server learning the children’s names and addressing them directly. Suddenly that child is the center of attention (and what kid doesn’t want that??). That makes him or her engaged in the dining experience and therefore invested in coming back to your establishment the next time.
Nothing could possibly work better for influencing your customer’s next decision to go out to eat than a couple kids jumping up and down and yelling your restaurant’s name. And engaging the youngest patrons in your restaurant can do a lot to help you get a positive note the next time the family goes out.