Restaurant Loyalty Programs: Top Business Strategies of 2021

by
Liraz Postan
February 18, 2021
6 min read
Customer Loyalty Programs - Glue

Restaurant loyalty programs can be one heck of a tool to incentivize extremely valuable customer groups.

When done accordingly, these programs can turn visitors into both regular guests and potential clients, thus becoming the ultimate ambassadors to your restaurant business. 
 
The arrival of 2020, however, brought along a number of changes that no restaurateur anticipated – with most businesses in the field being somewhat pushed to start fresh with restaurant loyalty program ideas.
 
In doing so, some restaurant businesses emerged stronger than ever, while others failed to catch up with the newly imposed guidelines.

Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 will likely have permanent effects on how the restaurant business operates from here on out. As a result, most businesses are expected to conduct new and improved strategies to beat their competition and simultaneously, achieve the desired growth. 
 
As far as 2021 is concerned, it can easily be labelled as a year of innovation and the ultimate driving force of businesses.

For one to thrive in this industry, both preparation and thinking ahead of the rest while still meeting all customers’ needs will be emphasized more than ever before. 
 
The first steps towards innovative business success will likely revolve around proper organization and leveraging consumer data in a purposeful manner that targets all aspects of the market. 
 
Typically, people spend an average of three hours a day using their smartphones.

Consequently, it’s obvious that, nowadays, the easiest way to store data accordingly is through the use of small devices.

This is where Glue comes into action – offering a line of thriving business options, while entirely abandoning their old-fashioned ways.
 
But, what is the advantage to relying on loyalty programs and how do they plan to attract more customers than before? 
 
Read on to find out!

Using Digital Loyalty Cards

Former business loyalty cards have become obsolete, mostly since everything nowadays is virtually operated.

While hand-held cards suffer the risk of getting lost or shoved in a customer’s wallet, digital loyalty cards are way more accessible and functional to use. Moreover, these can be easily integrated into your restaurant app, which then eliminates the need for manual punching.

The best thing about digital loyalty card is that people can still use it while sitting at home and ordering online, thus bringing your business years ahead of its competitors.

First Sign-Up, First Reward

Just as databases are crucially important for attracting and retaining customers, so are the perks of signing up to the site.

While you don’t have to offer free meals to everyone who signs up, you are welcome to provide customers with an asset to ensure they made the right choice.

Our suggestion?

You can cut 15% off their first meal, or even offer signed-up users a complimentary drink. 
 
No matter which route you take, the most significant thing about perks is to allow your customers to become outspoken advocates for your business, as an alternative to paying big bucks for expensive marketing.

Another great idea that might work for your new and revamped business is to create a personalized Instagram hashtag and treat everyone who uses it to a free drink.

Digital Restaurant Loyalty Programs for the Ultimate Revenue

As COVID-19 largely normalized a culture of no physical contact, restaurants are obliged to rethink strategies and part ways with old-fashioned methods of attracting customers.

Now more than ever before, the use of digital stimuli will overshadow the use and exchange of physical cards, and the benefits of it will just keep on coming.

Digital loyalty programs mainly focus on retaining insights on consumer dining habits.
 
This way, regular customers will give and gain value every time they visit your restaurant – as they’re able to highlight their favourite meal, preferred table, and so much more.

Out with the old and in with the new – indeed!

Customers Come First

With all your collected data in place, your offer is inclined to build personal relationships with customers by paying close attention to each and every one of them.

When used properly, restaurant loyalty programs will be the ideal tool in keeping customers coming back to your business.

As most clients decide what to eat at least an hour before their meal, sending newsletters and notifications to consumers at the right time might bring them in for lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack.

Furthermore, gathered data also grants employees an insight into the most common times that clients visit their restaurant. If it has been a long time since a client visited, pushing promotions and message alerts might re-trigger their interest.

Last but not least, birthdays always make great occasions for reigniting a personal connection – so offering a free appetizer or a beverage is highly advisable as part of your service.

Consider Tiered Loyalty Programs

Restaurant loyalty programs are evolving by the minute, while their positive newness helps attract a growing number of consumers.

In other words, what once captivated people’s attention, are outdated practices today.
 
Take collecting expiration date loyalty points for example.

When spent, these points bring customers back to square one and treat them depending on their restaurant rank. This naturally sets up a new goal to be reached – similar to a program ladder that offers new benefits with each step consumers climb. I bet you wanna give this to your customers!

Educating FOH Staff on Loyalty Programs  

It is absolutely crucial that your staff knows the ins and outs of your restaurant loyalty program.

As a solution, engage your staffers to hold a short and useful presentation on the effortlessness of signing up to your program. As a result, you can expect a growing number of old and new members – and ever so swiftly, too!
 
As far as redeeming rewards are concerned, ensuring the scheme agrees with the point of sale system is a must. Otherwise, your brand reputation might quickly suffer due to improper management.
 
If there’s something no restaurant wants, it’s to lose credibility among its consumers – regulars or not!

Give Regulars FOMO

It’s in our human nature to be an essential part of the environment and all its surroundings.
 
Therein lies the fear of missing out, which could easily work to your business’ advantage.
 
Once regular customers sign in to your program, losing them would be a terrible waste.
 
However, you can always engage your clientele by tapping into their fear of missing out – whether by promoting exclusive offers or providing them with solutions they secretly want. 
 
By packing your social media accounts with mouth-watering winnings and pushing newsletter and notifications to customers, you can give them the chance to score a great deal – or lose it!

Playing for the Win

How does one transform a restaurant loyalty program into a fun and engaging experience?
 
Well, with Glue Loyalty, you can implement a digital customer loyalty card which incorporates a scratch-and-win game into the app, thus attracting far more consumers. 
 
This system can also be set up to allow consumers to win promotion pop-ups each time they pay for a meal. As for the main prize, it can be structured as you wish – whether it’s offering an appetizer or granting the consumer 20% off their next purchase – it’s completely modular!

Subscriptions

Customers love getting instant gratification and will gladly participate in any such scenario.

For subscribing, your business could offer customers even more advantages, such as increasing discount percentage or creating loyalty coupons for target groups. 
 
An unlimited subscription will place the customer in the spotlight of your loyalty program and earn them the benefits that come with the deal.

Finally, don’t forget that personalizing your customer experience goes a long way and allows your visitors to feel like true VIPs.

Get People’s Opinions

How do you know if your program is truly effective?
 
Through conducting analyses on staff and consumers’ opinions, of course!
 
The first thing to do in this case is to monitor any potential difficulties that staffers have when tracking users. Additionally, you want to get a deeper look into the process of redeeming awards and registering clients. 
 
As you are trying to avoid inconveniences altogether, pay special attention to your busiest workdays. 
 
If anything feels off, ensure to acquire and provide feedback and get to fixing the issue. 
 
When it comes to your staff, it is best to address issues upfront and personally, while still utilizing your email and alert initiatives. 

Make a Frame of Reference 

Word of mouth referrals are the best restaurant advertising methods.

Basically, it is all about getting your customers to share your restaurant with friends, family, and colleagues – also introducing them to your earning-points system. 

Safety First

Loyal and devoted staff members are equally important as your customers. 
 
Because of that, make sure that your employees always work in a safe environment that shields them from potential workplace accidents.
 
Moreover, keep in mind that customers have to see you in action and successfully dealing with COVID-19 or other potential threats. 
 
Hygiene in these times is highly essential to the success of your business, so keep every corner of your place squeaky clean at all times.

Track Success & Self-optimization

Closely observing both your staff and customers’ behaviours and feedback will help you meet your restaurant loyalty program goals.
 
At the same time, being attentive will also present you with strategic ideas on how to attract people’s retention even faster than before.

Final thoughts

Glue Loyalty programs will massively help you build a strong bond with your regular and new customers.

Not only do these customized programs aid you in reshifting the focus of your business, they also remind you that, when it comes to high-end service, brand reputation, and successful restaurant management – customers come first.

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