Posts Tagged ‘loyalty rewards’

The Rewards of Offering Loyalty Rewards

June 29, 2012

From tiny cafes to nationwide chains, restaurants all over the country are increasingly recognizing the value of customer loyalty programs. New traffic is very important, but repeat customers are the heartbeat of any establishment. Regulars often bring in new customers as guests, and even work as free advertising when they tout their favorite restaurants. Restaurant owners realize that because consumers have so many different choices these days, it may take more than just great food to keep them coming back.

Whether they use rewards cards, email deals, or coupons, restaurant owners are going to great lengths to let their customers know that they value their repeat business.

Rewards Cards

One of the most popular ways to treat repeat customers is to offer a rewards card that allows customers to work toward a free item in the restaurant. Coffee shops may give a customer a free cup of coffee for every ten cups they order. A casual dining restaurant might offer a free appetizer or dessert after a customer has had a certain number of meals in that establishment.

Usually, this is a small, simple card that the server or hostess will stamp or hole-punch each time a customer visits the restaurant. (Some retail stores use similar rewards programs, offering a discount for each time that a customer spends a certain amount of money in the store.)

This type of program can be a great way to bring business back into the store without costing the restaurant very much money. While the patron sees the value of the reward as equal to what they would normally pay for it, the restaurant only pays about half that. The increased business that is created by a customer eager to fill his card can far outweigh the loss of profits from even a free entrée here and there.

However, because the reward is so delayed, many consumers forget about their rewards cards altogether, so that incentive is forgotten as well.

You’ve Got Deals

Another way that some restaurants are bringing people back to their tables is by using email to keep in touch with their customers. These restaurants will offer a quick registration card to diners, on which they will fill out their name, email address, and sometimes date of birth or other information. (This registration is by no means compulsory, so the option to receive these rewards is totally up to the customer). Once the registration is complete, customers can receive emails from the restaurant with deals, or to keep them updated on what’s new.

Many patrons appreciate this type of reward program because it doesn’t require active participation in looking for deals or remembering any special cards. Restaurants can send out e-flyers with weekly or monthly deals, so customers are constantly reminded, but the restaurant has spent virtually nothing on advertising.

They can also send out printable coupons, and some even send vouchers for free items, occasionally. However, even this technique can be flawed because some consumers do not appreciate receiving advertisements in their email, and so they view these deals as just another nuisance and classify them as junk mail or spam.