Why people live to eat (and are getting rewarded for it)

How do you set up a program that rewards your best customers without reducing your margins too much?

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Forget a 15% tip … how about a 35% increase in restaurant guest visits? According to Loyalogy, top loyalty cards and program provider, that’s the expected uplift many restaurants enjoy when they introduce loyalty programs to their marketing mix. Discounts, point systems, loyalty cards, keychains, apps, social media offers, and memberships are just a few of the many ways restaurant marketing programs can leverage reward systems to drive business and boost foot traffic. To get you started, here are a few simple guidelines.

Simply ask:

After guests complete their meal, present them with a quick survey asking how their experience was and what types of rewards would motivate them to return on a regular basis. Keep it simple and straightforward so your guests are not annoyed with the survey experience. If you have difficulty getting customers to answer your survey, try incentivizing them with a discount or free dessert. You can guess at what motivates your customers, but it is faster, easier, and more accurate to simply ask. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive some operational insight that will help you improve your quality of service and overall restaurant experience.

Frequency rewards:

Frequency rewards, such as loyalty cards, are one of the most common ways to encourage guests to come back. Everyone from major hotels such as Starwood, to dining sites such as OpenTable – and, of course, restaurants – are using loyalty programs to keep guests coming back. The benefit of frequency rewards is that you are driving more visits that will offset any type of reward you choose to give. A simple break-even analysis will help you understand how many visits you need to accrue before a reward has paid for itself and brought you greater than expected revenue.

Lead with value:

Another option is to lead with value. Membership to restaurants and social clubs, such as the SoHo House brand, incentivizes visitors to come back by providing exclusive access to special menu items, spaces, or experiences. Whether members pay a fee to join or must meet a threshold of purchases to remain connected, your business will benefit. The key is understanding what extra value you can provide to members that they cannot get anywhere else. Cooking classes with a celebrity chef, members’ wine tasting events, or on-site performances are a few of the ways you might augment your traditional dining experience. Ideally, any exclusive experiences you offer would not incur additional or exorbitant fees to the day-to-day operations of the business, so consider what relationships or in-kind exchanges you can leverage to keep costs low.

Partner with existing programs:

Lastly, one of the easiest ways to build your rewards program is to partner with an organization that already has a membership or loyalty base. A raw juice bar may benefit from partnering with a nearby gym, for example. Consider what local partners naturally align with your restaurant and evaluate what they are doing to drive visits. By giving another organization access to your customer base, you can cross-market for each other and generate business that will benefit both brands. In addition to encouraging repeat visits, partnerships also give your brand exposure to customers that may not have discovered you otherwise.

If you still aren’t sure where to start, or need help kicking off your rewards program, we’re here to help. Click here to learn more about how businesses like yours have partnered with BIGEYE to create loyalty programs that work. We strive to build brands by transforming their marketing strategies – check out our website to learn more about our services and contact information.

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