The great part of running a restaurant is that you’re selling a product that humans need to consume three times a day for their entire lives!
However, there are many other restaurants out there. How do you make sure your customers choose to come back to yours?
While dishing up mouth-watering dishes that are too good to refuse absolutely helps, another great way to keep customers coming back is with a restaurant loyalty app!
Offering a rewards program with a loyalty app is an incredibly effective way for restaurants to retain customers, stand out from competitors, and increase word-of-mouth referrals (the best form of advertising)!
Here’s how a loyalty app can benefit your restaurant in more detail…
Stamp Me, the ultimate customer loyalty app for Restaurants and Bars.
1. Get customers back in the door!
Customer loyalty programs are a great way for restaurants to encourage customers to visit or order from their restaurant more frequently, turning the “occasional customer” into a “regular”.
Perhaps you incorporate a feature into your loyalty program that sends out an automated text or email to any loyalty program member who hasn’t visited your restaurant in the last 3 weeks. It could be as simple as, “Hi Sarah, we miss seeing your face in our restaurant! Enjoy a free entree the next time you dine-in with us.”
Not only does this encourage Sarah to return to your restaurant, but she needs to dine-in (spend money) to receive her free entree. Sarah feels valued as a customer and you’ve successfully retained someone who might have otherwise chosen to dine at the restaurant across the road.
2. Make customers feel special
Generally speaking, we are all creatures of habit. People like having a “regular” or “local” and being recognised as a loyal customer rather than an anonymous patron.
In fact, a recent study found that some of the most important details restaurant-goers expect their local restaurant to know is their name (65%) and their favourite drink (50%).
By offering each customer ongoing rewards for continuing to patronise your restaurant over your competitor’s restaurant down the road, you are incentivising that customer to visit your restaurant exclusively.
Why would Sarah choose to visit another restaurant that serves the same cuisine when they don’t remember her name, don’t remember her usual order, and don’t reward her loyalty, when she can be appreciated and rewarded for her loyalty at yours?
3. Increase revenue
While offering a free product (i.e. free drink) as the reward will still encourage purchases and increase customer retention, a better model for restaurants is to offer a percentage discount off the customer’s next purchase.
For example, “Buy 4 Meals and Get 30% Off Your 5th Meal”.
This way, the customer is still spending money while redeeming rewards.
4. Boost word-of-mouth referrals
Guess what happens when loyal customers consistently return to your restaurant week after week after week… they bring their friends!
The better your loyalty rewards program is, the more satisfied your loyal customers are, the more frequently they visit your restaurant, and the more they rave about you to their friends and family.
The best form of advertising is the kind you don’t even pay for, and happy customers are walking, talking billboards for your restaurant.
5. Build customer relationships
The reason that a customer loyalty program succeeds in achieving all of the above points is that, if implemented and utilized properly, it strengthens the relationship between you (the restaurant owner) and the customer.
This is perhaps the most important aspect of creating a successful customer loyalty program for your restaurant.
An effective digital loyalty program allows you to collect and categorise valuable data on your customer base, such as their age, gender, spending habits, preferred foods, the frequency of their visits, which days they tend to come in, and so on.
Having collected this data on your loyal customers, you can personalise each patron’s visit through targeted marketing and exclusive offers.
Let’s consider that the same 2016 study mentioned earlier found that 95% of restaurant-goers were more likely to return to a restaurant where their specific personal preferences had been catered for. If you can start this process with a tailored offer before the customer is even in the store, then you’re off to a good start.
You can use the data you’ve accumulated to divide your customers into the busy, on-the-go regulars who swing by for a quick snack between errands and the customers who like to dine in, take their time, and hang around with a coffee after they eat.
Having divided your customer base into these two categories using the data collected from your loyalty program, you can send out two different offers – something like, “Try our new takeaway chicken wrap and enjoy a free coffee with your first purchase” for the on-the-go customers, and offer the longer-staying customers a promotion like, “Enjoy 50% off any dessert with your next meal purchased”.
Your loyal customers recognise that this is a personalised offer that appeals to their individual needs, and as a result they feel valued by your business. This example just scratches the surface of things you can do to make your loyalty program perform at its maximum potential.
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