Restaurant Reward Programs: An Un-tapped Marketing Tool?
Today’s the first of a two part post-series about restaurant reward programs. These programs — you know: buy five coffees, get one free, etc. — have considerable potential for restaurant marketing and business models, but very few restaurants implement them currently. However, according to the National Restaurant Association, 50% of consumers would frequent a restaurant with a reward program over one without. So, let’s say you’ve been considering this as a marketing tool — a means to the end of increased business. What’s stopping you?
Nothing, as soon as you learn the best way to go about it.
The obvious version of a rewards program goes like this: the first time a customer dines, or orders out or whatever, at your place, you give them a card and a promise — buy five coffees, get a sixth free; order takeout 9 times, get a tenth entree free, etc. From then on, they get their cards stamped or punched each time they come in, presumably persuading them to come in more frequently in order to earn their rewards. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this model, though some literature on the subject argues otherwise. To me, this model can be perfectly effective for smaller operations.
What the literature argues, though, is that card-based reward programs allow for greater data collection on your end. With a swipe card, you can learn about your customers — learn who they are, how they spend, what their preferences are and how you can better serve them. Trackable data can be collected and utilized in your future planning and business strategies. And, of course, there’s that good old draw of getting people to dine at your restaurant more often. They all want that extra cup of free coffee!
When I was in college, our campus coffee carts had a reward program, and though I bought a lot of coffee just to stay awake, I certainly would’ve brewed more at home if I wasn’t always thinking about that free cup at the end of my stamp card. Why not engender such unwitting loyalty in your customers? It comes at no real cost to them, and can really benefit your business. Friday’s post will cover the difficulties restaurants have had in implementing reward programs, along with how to implement your own ideal program. Although this can be done in a number of ways, it should be something considered by many restaurants — not just places like Panera and Qdoba.
Check back on Friday for the second part of this post series. Until then, contact us here.