November 6, 2020  


Everyone wants to feel like they’re wanted and implementing a customer loyalty program ensures that your customers know you want them back.

Below is a breakdown of how loyalty programs work and examples of programs you can incorporate into your restaurant.

Are loyalty programs worth the hassle?

Absolutely! Loyalty programs can absolutely benefit you and your customer base, leading to repeat business. The key to a successful loyalty campaign is to know the audience you’re catering for, so you can effectively draw them back in.

This includes knowing the average age of your customers, their income, whether or not they’re savvy social media users, or if they’re the type that loves a discount.

Benefits of a Customer Loyalty Program

The most important benefit is that it keeps customers feeling like they’re appreciated, in turn wanting them to dine at your restaurant repeatedly. If a customer has this positive experience, they are then in turn more likely to recommend your restaurant, providing word-of-mouth advertising.

The very possibility of receiving a discount through a loyalty program will automatically draw a large portion of diners in, despite any potential negative past experiences.

Best Methods

There are multiple means to achieving an end result which will greatly benefit customer growth. Firstly, in the technological age we live in, an app is the ultimate tool. The simplicity of a mobile application allows customers to have access to your promotions, discounts and deals, through their smart devices which they always have with them.

A digital loyalty card is a much more feasible option when customers are less likely to be carrying paper, or plastic cards with them.

Emails are another method still widely used and very much beneficial to any restaurant looking to retain customers. Emails could include newsletters, discount codes or rewards; the key is to not bombard customers with information in these emails.

Social media is as prevalent as ever, therefore having a strong online presence through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide a place where restaurants can engage with customers and provide services and discounts through these channels.

Text messaging is another option restaurants should utilise. By having customers opt into text notifications, you can send exclusive offers directly to them; offers they can’t receive anywhere else.

How to Attract Loyal Customers

A referral program offers further incentive which rewards customers by doing something they most likely already do, recommending your restaurant to a friend. This could include a free dessert item, discount or free delivery for every referral.

Freebies! Everyone loves getting something for free, so rewarding customers who sign up to a loyalty program with free food is a great incentive. Following on from that, keep them loyal by providing rewards after a certain amount of purchases.

Birthday Rewards! The tried and true method of offering a treat, or discount of some kind for a customer’s birthday is not only sure a way to get them to have their birthday dinner at your restaurant, but to feel this is a place where they’re wanted.

Social media - again, social media is a must in this day and age if you want to grow your customer base to its maximum potential. Offer customers the opportunity to get discounts, free items and other exclusive promotions if they share your posts multiple times, or invite their friends to like your page.

Types of Loyalty Programs

We’ve looked at the benefits of loyalty programs and how to market them but now it’s time to look at the forms of loyalty programs you can implement. Starting with Loyalty Points (think Qantas Points or flybuys).

The concept is simple, every dollar can equal a point, earn enough points and you’ll receive a free item or discount. Most of the time, the customers using loyalty points are returning customers, so for them it’s simply an extra incentive to continue dining there.

Punch cards still hold their value with restaurants as well as cafes. It’s the simple concept of dining a certain amount of times and once that last hole is punched - BAM! Free item, or perhaps a discount, the choices are endless.

App it up! A loyalty app will require more effort and money on your part in the initial phase of developing the program, but can provide numerous capabilities. The app can have multiple features including online ordering which provides customers with an easy to use method of earning points, winning prizes, or getting discounts.

YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE! Creating loyalty programs for your restaurant will result in a win-win scenario for both yourself and your customers. If implemented correctly, it will lead to increased traffic, exposure and repeat business.

If you’re not utilising a loyalty program right now, you’re missing out on potential customers who will come with it. How you choose to go about your loyalty program is up to you.