Thinking about starting a restaurant loyalty program, but haven’t made a final decision about it? Now is the time to make a move. Here are the four important reasons why you should offer a restaurant loyalty program to your customers:
- Capitalize on consumer demand
According to a recent study by Technomic, participation in loyalty programs is on an upswing, with 48 percent of consumers taking advantage of more restaurant rewards programs today than they did two years ago. And a survey by the National Restaurant Association revealed that all other things being equal, 57 percent of adult consumers are more likely to patronize an establishment with a restaurant loyalty program than to spend their dining dollars at a restaurant that doesn’t offer this option. So a restaurant loyalty program not only satisfies a growing customer demand – it gives you a competitive edge.
- Increase traffic and sales during otherwise slow times
Every restaurant has less-than-busy periods, but a restaurant loyalty program minimizes the negative effects by filling otherwise empty tables and encouraging customers to spend more money during their visit. Using a combination of what you’ve observed about your restaurant and data from your point of sale (POS) system, determine which hours, days, or seasons of the year your business is slow. Then, create special offers to coincide with these times, leveraging the email marketing component of your restaurant loyalty program to do so. If your restaurant loyalty program integrates with social networks, such as Facebook, use those platforms to get the word out, too.
- Encourage repeat visits
While you should always strive to attract new customers, retaining existing patrons is a less expensive proposition. In fact, statistics from FohBoh.com indicate that it costs about six times as much to cultivate new customers than it does to keep the ones you have.
Additionally, the more you incent and reward customers using a restaurant loyalty program, the more reasons you give them to return to your establishment again and again. And that’s not all: Repeat customers, according to FohBoh.com, spend 33 percent more per restaurant visit than new customers and refer their favorite restaurants to others at a rate of 107 percent.
- Build loyalty and engage with customers by celebrating special events
Seventy percent of consumers celebrate their birthdays at restaurants, according to the National Restaurant Association. With a restaurant loyalty program in place, the chance that customers will select your establishment for their special celebration increases many-fold. Simply ask for the date and month of customers’ birthdays when they enroll in your restaurant loyalty program, and send them an offer a few weeks before the big day. Of course, as few individuals dine out alone on their birthdays, a birthday offer can yield big returns in check size (and even bring you new customers from the birthday celebrant’s group).
Other milestones—e.g., customers’ wedding anniversaries, the anniversary of joining the loyalty program, the first or last day of school in your town, etc. —are also easily celebrated using a restaurant loyalty program. The more you leverage the program this way, the higher the degree of customer loyalty, and the more customers will want to engage with your restaurant brand.
From satisfying customer demand, to increasing sales and visit frequency, to engaging customers, a restaurant loyalty program can benefit your business in multiple ways. The abovementioned reasons for introducing such a program are only the beginning.