How to Create a Restaurant Customer Loyalty Program
Alongside the tasty food and impeccable service you offer customers, a loyalty program can help incentivize people to return to your restaurant. An ongoing restaurant customer loyalty program can increase order volumes and provide a channel through which you can build strong, lucrative relationships with customers.
Putting a loyalty program in place is not as complicated as you might think. We’ve put together an easy-to-follow tutorial to help you get a restaurant loyalty program set up and attract repeat customers in no time.
How Does a Customer Loyalty Program Work?
Customer loyalty programs are reward campaigns offered by brands to entice repeat purchases. Brands might reward customers with discounts, rebates, points, merchandise, or coupons. Most large restaurant chains have loyalty programs just like these which offer free food items to frequent customers.
The main goal of most of these programs is to generate consistent sales through the existing customer base. For this type of campaign to be successful, you must be prepared to offer rewards your customers find valuable. It’s also essential to make a clear distinction between discounts and promotions you provide to the public versus rewards offered to members of your restaurant customer loyalty program. Guests who take part in your program should gain access to specialized, exclusive treatment.
The best loyalty programs offer something your customers will love. One of the most popular options is a points-based rewards program.
Starbucks has an excellent rewards system. For every $2 you spend, you collect 1 star. Once you receive enough points, you can redeem them for drinks, coffee, and merchandise. Twenty-five stars get you a free shot of your favorite syrup, while 400 stars buys you a bag of coffee.
While Starbucks offers a direct reward setup with a points system, these systems aren’t the only way to inspire repeat purchases. Another popular option is a program based on the total number of purchases a customer makes.
At the Canadian based coffee shop, Tim Hortons, once you make seven purchases of any size, you’re eligible for a loyalty reward. You can choose from a free coffee, tea, or pastry.
Creating an Awesome Customer Loyalty Program
Step 1: Know Your Customer Base
An effective restaurant customer loyalty program offer things that your customers are already buying. The first step in creating a program that works is to understand what your audience trusts you to provide. Use Google Analytics or order details from your point-of-sale system to analyze your audience and uncover what your regular customers are ordering most frequently.
Step 2: Designing Your Restaurant Customer Loyalty Program
Once you’ve learned what your customers love best about your menu, it’s time to make a decision. What are you going to offer? Select a product that makes sense for your bottom line and one for which you know your customers will return.
Though many restaurants use a points-based system to encourage return visits (mentioned above), you can also choose to offer attractive discounts. These measures are especially useful in establishments where the central cuisine is considerably more expensive than anything else on the menu.
Outback Steakhouse is a perfect example of a restaurant that offers a discount program to repeat diners.
The steakhouse offers a rewards program in cooperation with Carabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. By visiting any of the partner restaurants three times in 6 months, customers can redeem a 50% discount on their 4th visit.
TJ Rockwells takes their discount program in a slightly different direction. For every $100 a customer spends, they earn a 10% off coupon.
Step 3: Create an Eye-Catching Template for Your Loyalty Program
There are tons of great programs out there that help restaurants efficiently manage their rewards programs. If your program requires something more complicated than a simple “punch card” tracker, choose an app to help you keep track of customer data.
Pro Tip: Many point-of-sale systems offer customer loyalty trackers which integrate seamlessly into the payment process.
These are three of the most popular apps among restaurant marketers.
Once you’ve set up the tech behind your restaurant customer loyalty program, make sure you advertise it on your website in a place you expect the most eyes. Include a link to your program on your homepage and build a compelling landing page for the program as well.
Don’t forget to create an eye-catching design for your program and supporting content. Strong copywriting and creative, on-brand design are two pillars of an awesome landing page. If you have a creative, valuable restaurant loyalty program, the only hurdle left to customer participation is a correctly designed landing page.
Step 4: Promote Your Loyalty Program
Personal-level marketing is the new way to promote stores, restaurants, and online businesses. You can build a community like 73@Hillcrest and share your loyalty program among them, or you can use email marketing, social ads, and paid promotions to get the message out.
Step 5: Collect Feedback and Improve your Restaurant Loyalty Program
One of the best ways to encourage customer participation in a restaurant customer loyalty program is to collect and implement feedback from your guests. You can collect input from your customers directly using staff-feedback calls, guest surveys, front-of-house software, or use a digital loyalty program app. You can use any tool as long as it helps you digitally connect with your customers, and increase your orders/sales.
The focus of a reward program should be on creating desire among customers and sparking a conversation. Use cohesive branding and rewards your customers will find valuable to ignite interest and participation in your loyalty program.
Give your program a creative name and slick design to make marketing simple, and rely on a powerful management tool to help monetize your digital loyalty program. Now that you know how to build a high-impact restaurant customer loyalty program that brings in customers, you might want to safeguard their information. Click here to learn how.
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About the Author
Raúl Galera is the Referral partner manager and writer for CandyBar, who provide small business solutions for customer loyalty programs.