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Restaurant Loyalty Programs

Make something good into something great. Any restaurant these days should have at least one small loyalty program. Fred Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect, said:” A 5% increase in customer retention can produce as much as a 100 percent increase in annual profit.” So that’s it. Encourage everyone to become a good customer. Reward them for being a great customer

A loyalty program can be as inconspicuous as greeting a customer whom you’ve seen about a few times. Even better if you remember what he always orders (if he does that, at least) so you can ask: “the usual, sir?” Smiles abound. A smile is often the best natural strain of loyalty programs. You could also welcome the familiar customer by calling him or her by the first name and offer them their favorite appetizer. And from this we go to the other end of the spectrum, where there’s a high tech installment that scans customers’ restaurant card for points total and for how many points it should add.

Here’s a list of common restaurant loyalty programs:

  • Punch Cards

A punch card frequency program can be easily implemented. Whenever the customer has spent a certain amount set by you, you punch their card. When the card is all ’punched out’, you offer a reward.

  • Loyalty Cards

You can scan cards with barcodes to keep track of customers’ purchases and offer them appropriate rewards. Additionally, you can use this information yourself to find ways to encourage the most profitable behavior changes. For example: there’s a customer who never orders an appetizer. You could offer him a free one while waiting for his meal.

  • Top Customer Reward

You could also create a customer competition where the top percentage receive a special reward, like a free party room reservation, free valet parking, etc. You could rely on software here, or you can simply keep track of regular customers’ names and count the frequency of their visits and how much they spend.

  • Automatic Rewards Systems

With the right software, customers that give you their names or pay with credit cards can be automatically entered into your loyalty program. You can then surprise them with a free gift once they have achieved a certain number of points. Tell them you’re rewarding them with something nice, but that it’ll be a surprise.

  • Card Filing System

It’s good if a customer carries around their card, since seeing the card will remind them of your restaurant. However, many customers have full wallets, and would appreciate it if you kept their card at your own establishment. With a filing system, finding the cards can be fast and easy; ask customers their name and find their card alphabetically.

  • Special Occasion Gifts

Consider sending all of the customers in your database, a free birthday gift certificate or a special holiday offer. This will encourage them to patronize your restaurant for their special occasion, and thus they will associate your restaurant with a special experience. Aim for the heart as well, not only the head.