Operating a restaurant requires a certain degree of understanding when it comes to customers. You need to be relevant, and to do that, you must be in touch with what customers want so that you can deliver on those expectations.
Believe it or not, this isn’t always easier said than done. With a loyalty program that resonates with what your customers value, you open the doors to greater communication with your customer base that translates to much more than just increased revenue.
How loyalty programs have evolved
In the beginning, loyalty programs were often nothing more than simple punch cards, giving loyal customers a free tenth coffee or pizza with the purchase of nine others, for example. While that was a welcome feature at first, over time customers have learned to expect such add-ons, and any business that didn’t offer a basic program like this risked being glossed over in favor of more proactive competitors.
But today, that isn’t enough. The standard has shifted, and companies that fail to go beyond the loyalty basics like the punch card are similarly left in the dust. Customers want and expect more for the money they pay, and if your business doesn’t offer that kind of opportunity, they’ll take their money someplace that will. Which isn’t hard to find.
Modern loyalty programs add a lot more than a free item after so many purchases. They include special coupons, certain days where menu items are priced more affordably, and even tailored savings and offers specifically for individual customers. A good loyalty program isn’t necessarily about saving customers money—it’s about recognizing their contributions to your business and thanking them for their service so they’ll continue to be a trusted revenue source.
Loyalty is a two-way street
Customers love loyalty programs. The number one benefit for them is that it saves them money, something that any customer is looking for. Along with that, it personalizes their experience with your business, increasing the chances they’ll leave happy and have a better day.
So do loyalty programs try to make customers happy at the expense of your business? Absolutely not. For restaurants, loyalty programs are a wonderful way to collect data on customers’ ordering preferences, helping you target your marketing efforts to your proper audiences. Of course, this leads to more repeat business because customers are seeing what they actually want to see, rather than getting blasts of random advertisements that get sent directly to the trash folder.
So, in short, a loyalty program’s targeted marketing leads to happier customers, and happy customers bring in more revenue.
Ways to keep in touch with your customers
Keep in mind that there’s more than just implementing a loyalty program and seeing your revenue increase. You have to find ways to keep in contact with your customers and stay on their radar.
Two great ways to do this are through email and text-based marketing. Almost everyone has an email address and phone, so very few customers are left out of these methods. With the right marketing software integrated into your POS, you have the opportunity to send automated messages on a schedule, keeping your manual effort to a minimum.
While you can send customers coupons and specials offers, these are also great ways to keep them in the loop about happenings with your business. Changes to business processes, such as ordering procedures due to COVID-19, can easily be sent to all customers with a registered email address or phone number. While giving away free products is a very welcome feature, customers appreciate the knowledge that makes it easier for them to do business with you.
It pays off to stay in touch with your customers
Keeping in contact with your customer base isn’t just good for making things easy for them. If you want your business to be successful in the long run, it’s a great idea to know what your customers are looking for in their experience with not just your business, but your industry.
Since a good loyalty program keeps track of customer preferences, you can use this invaluable information to keep you competitive. These preferences are never static, and you need to be able to stay agile and evolve with them as they inevitably change.
A great example of this is business during the pandemic. While it initially looked like restaurants were in for a rough time, data revealed that customers still valued food service, but in a different form than before. Restaurants that updated their processes to accommodate this were the ones that succeeded.
How customer loyalty programs help restaurants keep in touch with customers
Not only do loyalty programs help you communicate with your customers, it helps them communicate with you. This two-way form of communication is essential in today’s business climate. This is essential in today’s business climate. Customers can get incredibly frustrated when it feels like a business wants them for their money, but not their feedback.
With a loyalty program, you can be transparent about the services you’re offering your customers, and they can be open about what they’re interested in. It helps both of you stay updated on what you’re doing and what you value, and greater openness almost always leads to greater trust, and therefore profits.
Greater revenue is, of course, highly important for your restaurant to function as well as it possibly can. When you introduce a quality loyalty program, not only will you increase your chances for this, but you’ll pave the way for greater benefits that will keep your doors open longer.
With a loyalty program that truly resonates with your customers, you may even find yourself on the path to becoming an industry leader. It all starts with rewarding your loyal buyers for their dedicated service to your restaurant.
Focus POS provides the software you need to get started. For more information, contact an expert at Focus POS today.