Tag Archives: restaurant marketing

Customer Rewards Cards

Customer Loyalty Considerations: Pros and Cons of Reward Programs

Any more, it seems nearly all types of businesses offer a customer rewards program. Often, the theory behind implementing a rewards program is to retain current customers, turn new customers into returning customers, and reward loyalty. Here, we outline the pros and cons of starting such a program, and offer some considerations for businesses thinking of implementing their own.

Types of Rewards Programs

There are three popular types of rewards program you’re most likely to come across in today’s market.

  1. The Frequency Program

The classic punch card style. The “buy nine, get the tenth free!” reward system created to inspire regular visits. The pros? It’s simple, low cost, and easy to set up and hit the ground running.

Cons? It’s one more card for customers to carry and remember they have. I don’t know about you, but my wallet is overflowing with these types of cards that I never seem to think about until AFTER I’ve made nine purchases and could get the tenth free, consistently forgetting to have my card punched. I know, negligence on my part, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

The information you collect with this type of program is minimal. This creates hurdles in the way of future marketing efforts. One of the biggest benefits of loyalty programs is the ability to collect information to tailor promotional branding for your establishment.

  1. The Points Program

Spend more, earn more points, redeem for rewards! We all want that free flight or trip to Hawaii. And like the punch card style, it’s simple, easy to understand, and depending on the reward, can provide an awesome incentive to visit your business frequently. It’s easily customizable to reward customers with bigger prizes for making bigger purchases.

Cons? No instant gratification. Users must wait longer to collect prizes, and maintaining this program takes more effort and organization (keeping track of customers’ points and reminding them of where they stand and how far away they are for prizes).

  1. The Cash Back Program

Also known as the rebate program. Customers can earn money back depending on their purchasing behavior to spend on future purchases exclusively at your business. This has worked wonders in retail (think Kohls Cash), and certainly has a place in foodservice. Who doesn’t love free money, and earning money for purchases can make customers feel good about spending their dollars at your place. Requiring they return to spend their reward is a wildly effective way to turn new customers into regulars.

Cons? Like the points program, rewards take a while to build. This isn’t always a negative, though, as it incentivizes visitors to spend to earn. However, if customers visit infrequently, this type of program may have less appeal.

Bottom-Line Benefits

Loyalty programs have been shown to generate brand awareness and create profitability. It is six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep one. Rewards programs have been shown to help with customer retention with a steady return on investment. If you are considering starting a rewards program, we recommend checking out this beginner’s guide to customer loyalty.

8 Restaurant Marketing Ideas for the Holidays

Even though the holiday season is upon us, there is still time to ramp up your restaurant’s marketing efforts.  Here are eight ideas to help get you started or add to current plans.

1. Post Hours of Operation

Post your holiday hours on the front of your entrance, your website, social media and all other places your customers can find you as soon as possible.

2. Mix Up the Menu with Specials and LTOs

Work with your chef/chefs to create something special for your customers.  This could be an entire menu, or perhaps a special drink or dessert. Limited time offers are a great way to pull people in as the specials aren’t around for long.

3. The Shopping Escape

Shoppers tend to begin, break from or conclude their shopping trip dining out.  Promote why you’re the location to come to and/or advertise gift certificates.  What better way to put an end to a long hard day’s worth of holiday shopping with a gift certificate to a great restaurant? Also, many restaurants are rewarding those who purchase a certain amount in gift certificates with a bonus of $5 or $10.

4. Be The Party

Make sure customers know that your restaurant is the place they need to go for their holiday parties, whether it’s catering or hosting an event.  People may be planning to have it at home, then reconsider when their favorite restaurant can do all the work for them.

5. Enhance Your Decor

There’s nothing wrong with being festive, so liven up your restaurant a bit with holiday decorations.  Keep in mind there are many types of holidays from Christmas to Hanukkah, so playing it safe with generic decorations such as garland, holly, snowflakes, is a great way to go.

During a recent trip to a Mexican restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, Acapulco Joe’s, my food looked so good I posted a picture on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It took me less than 30 seconds. So many people commented and I’m sure many went thanks to my photo.

6. Let Customers Be Your Advocate

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest; there are so many different social media sites available to be a part of.  Why not use them to your advantage? Tell your customers to share their great experience with their friends and family via social media.  Remind them by small printouts on the table or in menu signs.  All that’s needed is a quick post tagging the restaurant, preferably with a picture, but it’s not always necessary. With Pinterest, you can create a board and invite people to contribute to it.

7. Keep Up-To-Date

Tagging along with idea No. 1, you must make sure all outlets are current and up to date.  This might seem like a no-brainer, but there might be one part of your business you leave out.  Make sure your website, social media sites and all advertising has your current holiday hours, specials, ect. And with social media, people are checking their statuses constantly.  You don’t want to take over their page, but you don’t want to just pop in once a week either.  Give people a reason to stop by, such as posting a picture of a food item. Sprinkle in your hours throughout your social media campaign just as a friendly reminder to guests.  Again–not overkill. Just every once in awhile so people don’t forget.

8. Become A Donation Site

There are many drives this time of year to help the needy such as Toys for Tots or United Way.  Team up with one of these groups, or even hold a drive and drop off donations to them.  If you’re collecting items to drop off somewhere, get in touch with the donation center ahead of time to make sure they can accept the donations you’re collecting.

 What are your restaurant’s plans this holiday season?