Mother’s Day is the most popular holiday of the year to dine out, according to the National Restaurant Association. And while many restaurants reward mothers with flowers, same-day discounts or even free Mother’s Day meals, few offer a reward that brings mom and other family members back.
With 38 percent of consumers choosing to dine out on Mother’s Day, according to NRA, May 8 could be the perfect opportunity to capture a new audience. Mother’s Day is undeniably one of the busiest days for restaurateurs to coordinate, but with some planning, you can reap the rewards of inflated crowds for months to come.
“Our customer base is 67 percent women, and that number grows 25 percent on Mother’s Day,” says Robert Maynard, c.e.o. and founder of Huntersville, NC-based Famous Toastery. “We’ve given mothers flowers in the past, but this year we wanted to give them something they could use in the future.”
Since Maynard says Famous Toastery is not a couponing brand, they decided on a $5 gift card that could be used within the next 45 days. “The gift card is an incentive that thanks moms for choosing us, and it’s trackable,” says Maynard. “We’ll be handing out the gift cards in all of our locations on Mother’s Day.”
Lou Ambrose, senior v.p. of operations at Kansas City-based Houlihan’s Restaurants, has a similar feeling about Mother’s Day diners. “We want to treat moms extra special on Mother’s Day and instead of offering them a discount or specific amount off, we want to gift them something of a more significant value because they certainly deserve it,” says Ambrose. “From an operations standpoint, we also have the opportunity to welcome back a potential repeat guest, which is always our goal.”
Three restaurants under the Houlihan’s Restaurant umbrella (Bristol Seafood Grill, Devon Seafood + Steak, and J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood) will be gifting mothers $25 off lunch or dinner on a return visit any time between May 8 and July 5—the first time the chain is experimenting with this gift amount.
"We’ve run similar Mother’s Day promotions in the past, such as a rose or flower for mom attached to a lesser-value offer,” says Ambrose. “The manager on duty would deliver the rose to each mom and it was extremely successful. This year, we wanted to give mom a little more considerable gift.”
Similarly, Mimi’s, a chain of French-themed neighborhood café’s, is offering Mother’s Day guests a free entrée to encourage patrons to return before May 29—Fête des Meres (aka Mother’s Day in France). The offer is good with a purchase of another entrée and two beverages.
As you plan your Mother’s Day festivities, consider the potential benefits of offering a bounce-back incentive to the mothers who dine in your restaurant—some for the first time. You may discover a new promotion that’s worthy of repeating year after year.