Restaurant Equipment & Supply

Is a Customer Loyalty Program Right for Your Restaurant

Mar 11, 2014 8:42:00 AM

Is a Customer Loyalty Program Right for Your Restaurant

The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive industries in the business world today. Restaurants and bars open and shutter at an alarming rate in today’s economy, and business owners are continuously seeking creative ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. One way to capture the attention of your consumers is to create a customer loyalty program.

Before you begin the implementation of a customer loyalty program it is important to keep in mind that customer loyalty is founded first and foremost on great service, a personal greeting, and the tried and tested quality of your products. Providing your consumers with a personal, first-rate experience will go so much further in earning raving customer reviews than a loyalty program ever will.

A well designed customer loyalty program should serve as a way to reward your most loyal customers for frequently dining at your restaurant or bar. Below are a few reasons why a customer loyalty program may be beneficial to both you and your consumers.

Makes your customers feel valued
When done the right way, a customer loyalty program shows your returning customers that they are appreciated and can make them feel special for choosing to dine at your restaurant or bar.

Encourages returning customers
We know that repeat customers are imperative to the success of any restaurant or bar, so a customer loyalty program is a great way to reward your customers for returning.  Customers have so many dining options available to them, and knowing that they will be rewarded for patronizing your restaurant or bar might sway them to choose your establishment over the competition.

Attracts new customers
An effective and creative customer loyalty program should attract new customers to your restaurant or bar. Ensure that your incentive program has the features to increase referrals and build marketing lists for emails campaigns and company newsletters.

Learn more about your customers
By collecting information from the members of your customer loyalty program you can learn more about the individuals who frequent your restaurant or bar. Having a database of customer information can be a valuable marketing tool. When your customers sign up for your loyalty program it is an excellent opportunity for you to gain useful demographic information as well as their contact information.

With so many businesses offering customer loyalty programs you will want to find a way to differentiate your program from your competition. Before you implement a reward program it is important for you to do your research and really know your devoted customers. This is important because a loyalty program will only truly be successful if the value of the earned reward, either perceived or monetary, is deemed desirable by your most consumers. Below are few ideas on how to reward your most loyal consumers. 

Create a program specific to your consumer
Many industry experts agree that the success of customer loyalty programs lies in mobile technology, however not everyone has access to a Smartphone or the correct app to participate in certain programs. Therefore it is important to know your establishment’s demographic and anticipate what type of customer loyalty program would engage your consumer. A simple punch card will be ideal for some restaurants and bars. Other restaurants and bars will need to incorporate digital and social media aspects into their programs, in order to keep up with increasingly tech savvy consumers.

Match the reward to the concept
No matter how you choose to reward your customers, make sure that the reward makes sense. A formal, more expensive restaurant should offer rewards like a bottle of wine, a premier table or free valet-parking. A casual sports bar might offer rewards like a free t-shirt or exclusive access to gaming tables.

Offer an exclusive experience
While “freebies” are often a popular incentive choice for loyalty programs, they do not always appeal to everyone and can often de-value your restaurant or bar. So think of ways you can make your incentives and rewards as unique as your restaurant or bar. Experiential rewards are becoming an increasingly popular choice. For example, a restaurant or bar might host an exclusive tasting event for the patrons in their customer loyalty program. This type of experience builds community, helps your business stand out and gives customers a reason to keep coming back.

A loyalty program can work for just about any restaurant or bar, but only if the tools and rewards are carefully selected and implemented. As long as you keep your customers wants and needs at the forefront of your planning, your customer loyalty program is sure to be a success.

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