Go to any eatery across the nation, and there’s a fair chance that you’ll be presented with a loyalty program. They’re getting more and more popular, but is it what your business needs in order to grow? There are a few different threads we need to unpick here as no two eateries are the same. Clientele, branding, and style of food all need to be addressed.
Can you make a program that’s consistent with your brand?
That is perhaps the most critical question to ask when you start thinking about trying something new. If you try to use a loyalty program, make sure that it integrates into your restaurant pos or else it may cause more customer confusion than loyalty. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting to know your customers and what they expect from you. Not everyone will see the value in discounts, and for some, it will be a definite turn off. The secret is knowing how to find the right balance…
Knowing what your customers really want
Any customer loyalty program needs to be hassle-free and easy to use; if it’s not then, you won’t get much engagement. Put yourself in the minds of your customers and ask yourself why they’re coming to you. If you offer a 5-course menu and you’re booked up for weeks, then people won’t expect or want discounts. They’re paying good money to come and dine with you, and they’re proud that they’re able to do so.
If, however you get a lot more transient business on the day and are in competition with similar eateries then a closer look will be in order. You need something that allows you to stand apart from the competition, but for all the right reasons. Don’t offer the whole world for a dollar; otherwise, you run the risk of cheapening your brand and losing credibility. Keep your offerings, simple, fun, relevant, and wherever possible seasonal. That way you’ll be able to strike the right balance all year round.
You need to decide on the core goals of your program
Of course, every program is designed to boost business, but saying that just won’t be enough. Sit down and focus on how you want to do it. Do you want a one-time surge of customers with a very high discount? Or do you want a hook that has people coming over and over again? The second one is clearly the more sustainable and long-term solution. It should see your sales grow organically rather than spike, and then drop off as you struggle to meet demand.
Decide how you’re going to track loyalty and engagement
Creating a loyalty program is an iterative process, just like any other aspect of your business. That means that while you want to implement something great on day one, being open to change is vital to your success. Create a way of tracking engagement that is in keeping with your brand, and you’ll be able to zero in on what works best for your business.
Vania Silva is a lifelong lover of food (especially Portuguese)! She enjoys helping restaurants succeed & has been published in various restaurant industry publications such as Upserve’s Restaurant Insider.