Back to school season is in full swing once again. But, how will this look for restaurants? In the year 2020, there is a lot of uncertainty around this due to COVID-19. Do people plan for at-home learning or will restaurants still get that after school rush?

Restaurants give both parents and kids a sense of normalcy that is much needed. So, as we begin to figure out what this school year will look like, back to school specials are still a must. That is why we’re here to help. In this blog post, we’re going to provide you with the top back to school promotions. These will help you engage daily with parents, kids, and college students. Check out these restaurant promotions that are in the school spirit.

Here are 8 back to school specials that will help drive sales:

Back to School Specials

Another way to drive sales is by offering specials specifically related to school. This can be done in so many ways. You can create promotions that are for school nights or even before and after school.

Before and After School Specials

If you own a restaurant or coffee spot that gets busy in the mornings or after school, this is for you. You can create a special that is only offered from opening until 8 am and then another for after school. This can be a new coffee flavor, breakfast, or snack offered at a special price.

After school, kids like to walk home with all their friends and they come to your restaurant in big groups. Handle these peak rushes the right way with our mobile POS system, OrderPad. With this, you can serve your customers faster and more efficiently.

Lunch Specials

Specials during lunchtime are one of the best ways to attract both teachers and older students. It’s common for high school students to go off-campus for lunch and they want the best deal. There’s one deal I always remember from high school. The local pizza place offered a deal that included a slice of pizza, a side of ranch, and a drink, all for 3 dollars. The line was always out the door and this was the place everybody wanted to go to for lunch. It’s because they offered this deal only for students and teachers and only during lunchtime. This is just one example to help put back to school lunch specials into perspective.

School Night Promotions

This kind of special can easily appeal to parents any day of the school week. Do the cooking for them and let them take the night off from making dinner after a busy school and workday. You should create a specific name for this promotion so it speaks directly to your target market.

Additionally, this promotion can also be centered around offering family-style meal kits. These have been a growing trend during COVID since the shift to takeout only. Meal kits are easy to throw together and provide great leftovers the kids can take to lunch the next day.

The number of specials you can run for back to school is endless. Make the decision of which ones you want to run based on your customer base and food offerings. The most attractive ones will benefit both parents and students.

Social Media Giveaways

What better time for free stuff than before going back to school? A social media giveaway will help increase your visibility and give you new exposure. This will allow you to connect with your existing customers and attract many new ones.

Giveaways are the perfect way to drive engagement. They excite customers and spark off a chain of sharing. With this giveaway, make sure you have an exciting prize. It needs to be relevant to your brand and something your customers want or even more, need. Since this is a back to school giveaway, there are many easy things that can be in this bundle.

Here are some ideas:

  • A gift card to your restaurant
  • Gift card for school supplies
  • Restaurant branded clothing (hats, t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.)
  • A backpack full of school supplies
  • A free item for a whole year
  • All-inclusive family dinner

These are just some basic items that you can include in your giveaway. They’re relevant back to school and can appeal to both parents and students. To get the most engagement out of this post, have clear guidelines on how to enter like this:

  1. Follow our restaurant on Instagram!
  2. Like this photo.
  3. Tag 3 friends.
  4. For bonus entries share this post on your story and tag us!

The rules above are simple and easy for all your customers to follow. For more help, check out this Instagram Giveaway Rules Guide.

Awesome Grades Rewards Program

Back to school means homework and tests are right around the corner. Start a program that recognizes students working very hard in school. This is a fun way to get kids excited about tests if they know about your great grades reward program. If students get an A on a test or their report card, they can get rewarded with a food freebie. Create a flyer about this and place it in a place with high visibility. Make it clear that all you ask if they bring in the test or report card for proof.

This tactic also should be incorporated into your social media strategy. Create a fun hashtag that parents can use to show off how proud they are of their kids’ schoolwork. Be sure that the hashtag for this promotion has your restaurant name in it. A couple of examples are #CAKELovesGreatGrades or #CAKEStarStudent. Share photos onto your social accounts to increase awareness of this fun program. A promotion like this can help increase community support and create lifelong customers.

Kid-friendly Happy Hour

It’s time to take “Happy Hour” and make it kid-friendly. During after school hours, something you can offer is half-priced kid menu items. This will attract families of all sizes and boost foot traffic during that time. Paired with your regular happy hour specials and both kids and adults can enjoy this. Parents can enjoy a refreshing cocktail after a long day while feeding their kids at the same time.

It’s important to choose hours right after school around 3-5 or even 6 if it is doing very well.  After doing this for a couple of weeks, check out your numbers to see if the items and time of your happy hour are working.

Loyalty Program

The best way to drive repeat visits from your customers? Having a loyalty program in place. To gear this program for your younger kid customers, you can offer punch cards. Punch cards are exciting for kids because they can physically see when they will get their prize. For your older demographic, you can use a system that has an easy check-in with their phone number or mobile app.

Loyalty programs are a great form of communication but also attract customers. Both forms act as an incentive for guests to come often to collect rewards. It’s a tried and true marketing tactic!

See how CAKE’s Loyalty Program can help you gain valuable insight into your customers.

Teacher & College Student Discounts

Show your community teachers some appreciation! Going back to school can be stressful and a little love can go a long way. Give your local educators a small discount or even create certain specials for them. Teachers frequently order food at the same time for other staff and you want them to order from you. In this situation, meal kits can be appealing to them as well as other teacher specials.

Creating specials specifically for college students can be a little bit harder. With schedules that are all over the place, one of the best things you can do for them is to offer student discounts. It can be as easy as showing a valid college ID and receiving 10% off.

Bars can easily appeal to college students by hosting a College Night. This can be one night from 8 pm to close where you offer 1/2 off all bar tabs or $3 well drinks. College Night draws a big crowd and increases revenue.

Time to learn

There is no way to know how this back to school season will play out. Class time may look a little different this year, but people still need to eat. Use these back to school promotions to draw people in and maximize your profits. To support this, see to it that your restaurant has online ordering ready and a loyalty program in place. CAKE is here to help with all your back to school restaurant needs.