Many restaurants are turning toward loyalty programs as a way of increasing the likelihood of repeat business. It would be understandable to assume that this is a strategy designed for the big hitters. But, businesses of all sizes can benefit from loyalty programs. Implementing a simple rewards based strategy is a cost effective way of retaining customers, and can be as simple or complex as your business model commands.
What can you offer for your loyalty scheme?
There is a wide variety of things you can offer your customers. The most common style of offering in a hospitality model is a free starter or side. However, you may also benefit from the use of a tiered system where-by continuous visits are incentivised with better offerings. For example, the first tier could be the free starter, then the following tier could be a free main or bottle of wine.
You can also use your loyalty scheme to celebrate your loyal customers. For example, you could offer them something for their birthday. This will not only make them feel special but it will also increase the chance that they will visit your restaurant for their birthday celebrations over your competitors.
So, what are the benefits?
Low Maintenance and Cost
Compared to other marketing strategies, loyalty schemes are relatively easy and cheap to implement and maintain therefore increasing the speed and likelihood of a return on investment. Loyalty schemes are much more personal to your customers which is why they are perceived better than wider reaching media campaigns.
Better Site Reputation
As your customer satisfaction increases, your reputation should receive a tremendous boost. Happy customers will not only continue to enjoy your offerings, but also become enthusiastic advocates, spreading the word about your business.
Repeat Customers and Increased Sales
As your customers begin receiving benefits each time they dine with you, it’s extremely likely that your repeat business will increase. Naturally, an increase in customers means an increase in sales.
Increased Customer Experience
Your customers experience at your venue will greatly improve once they begin to feel the benefits of receiving great offers. In hospitality, customer experience is paramount. Click here to take a look at one of our other handy blog posts that explains what else you can do to improve your customers experience.
How to implement your loyalty scheme
You've crossed the T's and dotted the I's. Now it's time to get the ball rolling. The most important thing still left to decide is how you plan to implement and maintain your shiny new scheme. Is it going to be stamp cards? Mobile app? Mobile app stamp card?
The most cost effective method is likely to be the stamp card option. Stamp cards are an inexpensive way to get as many people onboard as possible. There is no data capture to consider and you can give one out to every customer the visits your venue.
Also make sure you are communicating this to your teams effectively so that errors and mistakes are kept to a minimum. And, ensure you have suitable marketing strategies ready that compliment your new scheme and help to increase your outreach.
In Summary, if you haven't got a loyalty scheme in place, you could be missing out on an opportunity to improve your business on multiple fronts. Whilst not all will benefit from a scheme, it certainly cannot hurt to asses whether your venue could do more to improve customer loyalty, and a loyalty scheme is a great start.