If you want to reward repeat customers and draw in new guests, a killer restaurant loyalty program is key:
- 45% of diners will select a restaurant if they belong to its loyalty program
- 62% of Generation Z and 67% of young millennials state they are highly influenced by customer loyalty programs
- A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits between 25% and 95%
However, less than 30% of restaurants offer a rewards program or any benefits for customer loyalty, according to the recent “Second Helpings” report by Deloitte.
If you’re ready to make the most of your restaurant’s loyalty program, there are five areas to improve.
How to improve your restaurant’s loyalty program:
- Go digital
- Make the rewards relevant
- Personalize rewards
- Communicate consistently
- Educate staff on enrollment and incentives
Today’s successful restaurant reward programs look a little different than the punch cards of the past. If your restaurant wants to offer a robust rewards program, it’s time to ditch the paper and go digital.
Most customers associate rewards programs with annoying, easy-to-lose cards or impossible to remember customer numbers. Instead, thanks to innovative new tech, the best restaurant rewards programs are now digital.
In fact, 79% of U.S. customers said they would be more likely to join a loyalty program that does not require a card, according to Forbes.
What’s behind the shift to digital loyalty program? Two key drivers: ease and post-pandemic fears.
Digital rewards and loyalty programs offer restaurant customers ease and convenience. No one wants to remember to bring a physical swipe card or punch card to a restaurant anymore.
Instead, digital rewards programs that are linked to a customer’s email, phone number, or credit card offer an easy and automatic way to collect points and earn rewards.
Additionally, after 2020, many consumers now see physical loyalty cards as another item to avoid touching.
Make the rewards relevant
Many restaurant owners worry about the financial implications of a loyalty program. However, incentives for loyal customers do not always need to revolve around free items.
Instead, there’s a wide range of rewards restaurants can offer to loyalty program members.
Consider offering unique rewards like:
- Free items or special discounts on a customer’s birthday
- Free delivery on an order after points are accumulated
- Coupons for discounted menu items
- Promo codes for free drinks or desserts
- Rewards based on inventory
- Access to new or secret menu items
- Entry into special events
Personalize the rewards experience
Another hallmark of successful restaurant rewards loyalty program? Programs that offer personalized, customized rewards.
Customers love to feel special and customizing rewards to individuals is a great way to boost your restaurant’s brand, reputation, and customer service.
“You can use order histories to send targeted offers based on their most frequently purchased items. Or, you can send them an offer for a free dessert on their birthday. Such tailored offers perform better than generalized promotions, because they create a sense of personal connection that boosts customer satisfaction,” explains QSRWeb.
Once a customer is enrolled in a digital loyalty program, your restaurant can track analytics like most frequent ordering times, typical spend, favorite menu items to order, and more.
With information like this, your restaurant can tailor rewards to individual customers – and reap the rewards of this personalized attention to detail.
Communicate the benefits
Once you’ve enrolled a guest into your restaurant’s rewards program, it’s critical to remind them about the program and the benefits consistently.
There are several easy, digital ways to keep in touch with customers and incentivize more takeout, delivery, or in-house orders at your restaurant.
- Emails that remind customers of their rewards balance and what they could use their points for
- A text messaging program that welcomes customers after enrollment
- Emails with digital promos or coupons that can then be scanned from a phone
- An e-newsletter reminding loyal customers of specials or deal for the month
- Social media stories or posts offering limited deals or promos to rewards program members. Be sure to make loyalty program enrollment easy by always including a sign-up link.
For restaurant owners and operators there’s also another benefit to establishing and maintaining consistent communication with your rewards program customers. More customer feedback.
By including phrases like “Would you like to receive more rewards like this?” at the bottom of emails, social posts, or other digital communications, you can learn what your guests want more of – or could care less about.
Over time, this kind of feedback can help to inform future offers and personalize customer experiences. And for restaurant owners and operators, that means happier customers who are more likely to return to your restaurant again and again.
Educate your staff
Finally, one more critical component of a successful restaurant rewards program is informed, educated staff members who can easily enroll new members and explain program benefits to guests.
To start, staff members should always ask customers if they are a member of the rewards program before any transaction. Additionally, ensure every staff member knows how to quickly enroll a customer into the program. To incentivize signing up, a discount or promo could be offered.
Also, it’s vital every staff member can answer FAQs about the loyalty program and explain to new members how the program works.
By training all staff members on the structure and benefits of your restaurant’s loyalty program, you can improve your customer service, build your restaurant’s brand, and boost membership in your rewards program.
If you are a restaurant owner or operator ready to easily set up a digital loyalty program, Dash is here to help.