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Students are coming back to town—is your restaurant ready?

You don’t have to be a dive bar in a college town to get a chunk of that back-to-school business. Schools starting back up in the fall means big business from students, teachers, and their families. Take advantage of all these extra people by reaching out to students and marketing directly to them, as well as establishing relationships with institutions themselves.

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Offer Student Discounts

This may seem like an ancient marketing idea, but it’s still a solid one. College is more expensive than ever and students have less money to spend on fun. Don’t bother printing up coupons and delivering them to schools; instead, offer the discount with any valid student ID. Spread the word about it through social media, and connect directly with the schools themselves to get them to spread the word right to the students.

Freebies For Freshmen

Each year your city or town gets a whole slew of potential new customers delivered right to your neighborhood. Make them feel special and become part of the community by offering a special treat to freshmen such as a free appetizer or dessert.

Embrace Technology

Students carry far less cash and rely on technology in most aspects of their life. Make dining out and splitting the bill as easy as you can on students by embracing new technology. Check out some of the new apps out there that work right with your POS system to make splitting bills and paying easy to do right from their phones.

Plan Student Night

Plan an event in the fall to welcome new students and bring returning students back to your restaurant. Figure out what days of the week are slower for you, and offer a prix fixe menu at a great price to bring in a crowd.

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Get Them Engaged

Encourage students to follow your social media platforms and engage with you. Connect with the schools and see what hashtags they’re using so you can join their conversations. Consider kicking off the school year with an Instagram contest to get a lot of new followers at once.

Know Their Calendar

Take the time to look up the academic calendars of the local schools and pay attention to special dates. Be sure you know when parents weekend is happening, as well as homecoming, graduation, or any big games that may bring in a crowd.

Don’t Forget Teachers

Where there are students, there are teachers. There may be fewer of them, but they have more money to spend. Offer a special lunch discount for teachers or school employees to encourage them to spend their lunch breaks with you.

Make the most out of the school year and maximize having this swell in your population!

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.