Loyalty programs are a great way to turn new customers into return customers. Giving away points that can be cashed in for free food/drinks is a powerful customer incentive. Some of the most successful businesses in the food industry like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts earn millions from their loyalty programs.
But, in the hyper-competitive restaurant space, having a one-trick pony of a loyalty program may hurt your chances of earning a return customer.
Here are five tips and tricks that you can use to start a well-rounded loyalty program that helps drive sales and turn first-time customers into lifelong supporters.
- Go Digital
We live in a digital age. There is no denying it. Digital loyalty programs are both easy to implement and easy for customers to use, and for a variety of reasons. First, you don’t want to burden your customers with another card to carry around in their wallet. Chances are they don’t have room for it anyway. Second, if a customer forgets their loyalty card, they are likely to choose another restaurant to eat at. Third, paper cards don’t provide valuable data like a digital platform can. As Big Data becomes more prevalent in the restaurant industry, finding new ways to acquire that data is pertinent to a business’ success.
- The Simpler, The Better
Don’t overthink your loyalty program. It’s really that simple. Make sure your program is both simple enough for all of your staff to use and easy for your customers to understand. Don’t oversaturate your program’s terms with a bunch of conditions. Your customers are more likely to reward your hard work if they understand how it benefits them.
- Give Your Guests FOMO
FOMO—Fear of Missing Out—is one of the most powerful marketing tools in a restaurant owner’s toolkit. It signals to your customers that they need to be “in the know” in order to not miss out on the next big thing at your business. Make sure your loyalty program is tied to special events, promotions, and other rewards that your business offers.
One great way to give your guests FOMO is by promoting your rewards on social media. Maybe your customers need to “enroll” in a certain program in order to get to try your chef’s next tasty creation. Then, post videos and pictures of your customers enjoying that meal and watch as the customers come flooding to your door.
- Promote! Promote! Promote!
Once your loyalty program is up and running, you need to promote it everywhere. Make posters to hang in your windows. Place tabletop advertisements in your dining room. Plan at least one social media post per week about the benefits of your loyalty program. If it’s important enough for you to take the time to develop it, then it’s important enough for you to tell your customers about it every chance you get.