A faithful customer is extremely valuable. They typically have a higher check average than newer visitors and return often. Plus, they can help build a restaurant’s reputation by word-of-mouth and bring their friends and family. Studies show that increasing customer loyalty by 5% can lead to as much as a 100% boost in yearly profits.
Here are a few ways to turn diners into dedicated fans:
- Ramp up rewards. Let members claim rewards at smaller intervals instead of stockpiling points. At Starbucks, 25 stars can get mini prizes, such as a free espresso shot or dairy substitute. At Chick-Fil-A, every dollar gets 10 points and as members move up the tier, they can collect more points per dollar.
- Diversify prizes. Some customers prefer a free dessert, while others would rather receive a discount on the total bill. Offering a variety of incentives, such as coupons, add-ons, merchandise or entry into larger giveaways, appeals to different motivations for returning to the establishment. Typically, rewards are worth 10-15% of the entire purchase and used during the next visit.
- Keep it simple. Don’t add too many rules to participate or restrictions on when points can be redeemed. Try to keep it digital too. Punch cards can easily be misplaced, whereas automated systems and apps make it easier to keep track of continuously accumulating points.
- Stay relevant. Even after patrons leave, it’s important to remain connected. This could be through automated texts, social media or enewsletters. These are also great ways to provide coupons, market events or send personalized content.
- Respond to negativity. For patrons who aren’t pleased with their experiences and write a poor review, reach out and thank them for their thoughts, apologize and offer some small compensation. That way, they can see that their experiences and opinions as a customer truly matter.
Whether operators adopt a structured loyalty program or focus on developing in-person relationships, keeping diners satisfied and motivated should be top-of-mind. A single positive experience may lead to another visit, but consistency is the key to turning patrons into regulars.
Flager, Madison. 11 Restaurants With Awesome Rewards Programs, Delish, April 2019.
Navarra, Theresa. Three Quick Tips for Building Customer Loyalty in Your Restaurant, Upserve Restaurant Insider, November 2018.