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How to Build a Successful Restaurant Loyalty Program

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June 03, 2022

A restaurant customer loyalty program is designed to reward repeat customers with exclusive deals and discounts based on the frequency of their visits. The goal is to increase the number of customers that return and build a devoted consumer base. However, are the results worth the effort? What does it take to craft a dynamic rewards system? We answer those questions and more below.

Are Customer Rewards Programs Worth It?

If the end goal of loyalty rewards is to increase more returning customers, the main question is: how does repeat business impact your establishment’s bottom line? While customer retention might not seem paramount for securing profits, recent studies indicate that return customers shell out  67 percent more than new customers. So, a compelling rewards program can bring in repeat business, cultivate a loyal base, and ultimately expand profits.

How to Start an Effective Restaurant Loyalty Program?

When developing a customer rewards program, it’s necessary to build a package that brings in the most patrons without extra expense. The first rule of thumb for any customer rewards method is to put your consumer first. To reap the most benefits for you and your customer, we recommend keeping in mind the following three things when forming your restaurant loyalty package:

1. Every Visit Should Count

While restaurant owners don’t want to cut into profits by giving away free goods, you are more likely to encourage repeat business if every customer’s visit counts towards their loyalty perks. With that in mind, you might want to design a system that works for your budget. Luckily, there are various ways to structure rewards:  

  • Offering a gift certificate after a patron visits your establishment a certain amount of times. 
  • Creating a “punch card system” that comps an entire meal after your customer has spent a predetermined amount. 
  • Give away free, branded merchandise or tickets to an exclusive event once they meet purchasing or visitation criteria.

No matter what direction you take, make sure you analyze your food costs so that you don’t dip into profits. Remember, you can offer exclusive personalized experiences instead of meals. Personal touches can further boost your brand and let your patrons feel like they are getting a one-of-a-kind deal. 

2. Simplicity Rules

Customers are more likely to sign up for a rewards program if it’s effortless to use. 79 percent of Americans revealed they are more likely to join a loyalty campaign if they don’t have to carry around physical cards. Utilizing hospitality-focused tech are excellent ways to simplify and streamline rewards management. Mobile or digital gift cards are also popular options for consumers. Plus, more than half of gift-card users will spend as much as 38 percent over the face value. So you can give guests perks and still bring in sales.  

3. Promote Your Loyalty Program

Once you finally have your program solidified, it’s time to let the public know! A loyalty package is only successful if people know how to access the benefits. Here are a few ways to reach out and market your loyalty perks:

  • 82 percent of Americans are on social media, so take advantage of the large consumer pool and post regularly to your social media channels. do a social media blast. Don’t forget to make it shareable. 
  • Design a page on your website devoted to your customer loyalty package. 
  • Fashion an email newsletter and SMS campaign to let patrons know about loyalty perks. Don’t have your guests' contact info? Offer a coupon if they sign up for text and email messages. 
  • Post flyers in your restaurant, add notes on menus, or craft tabletop tents that customers can easily see while dining.
restaurant loyalty program.

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