loyalty program

How to Create a Restaurant Loyalty Program That Works

Does your restaurant have a loyalty program? If not, now’s your time to start considering one. Loyalty programs are a great way to drive customers, old and new, make them feel appreciated, increase their satisfaction AND their check total.

Per Technomic, “based on past recessionary behavior, we might expect consumers to begin seeking deals for meals.” This means consumers are hungry for special savings on meals from their favorite restaurants. Creating a loyalty program will help satisfy their hunger!

Let’s look at a few reasons why your restaurant needs a loyalty program and what it should include:

What Is a Restaurant Loyalty Program?

A restaurant loyalty program is a marketing strategy designed to encourage repeat business from loyal customers.

It typically involves offering rewards, discounts, or special perks to patrons who frequently visit the restaurant or spend a certain amount on their purchases.

Customers sign up for the program, often through a membership or mobile app, and earn points or benefits with each visit or purchase, fostering a sense of loyalty and incentivizing them to choose the restaurant over competitors.

The Value of a Loyalty Program

loyalty program

A loyalty program holds a lot of value. It’s a way to grow your customer base and reward those who have always supported your restaurant. It’s a way to make them feel special and appreciated!

A loyalty program also helps you increase customer satisfaction. Both your food and service are the determining factor in customer satisfaction, but a loyalty program is the cherry on top. This is an incentive to get them to keep coming back and racking up points and rewards.

Loyalty programs can help drive higher check totals. It’s no secret that consumers will most likely spend more at your restaurant when they already have a free meal or discount going towards the check.

According to a Paytronix report, the average sit-down customer using a rewards program spends 92% more than dine-in customers who do not use a loyalty or rewards program.

What Should My Loyalty Program Include?

loyalty program

If you’re ready to add a loyalty program but don’t know what to include, we’ve got the details! Let’s help your customers earn rewards, in whatever way works for you!

A Welcome Drink

A great incentive for first-time sign-ups is a welcome drink. Everyone loves a freebie.

If you offer a free beverage, first time customers are more likely to order food along with their free drink.

Free App

A free appetizer is another great way to get guests to sign up for your loyalty program.

You can incentivize them to rack up X amount of points before they win a free app. 250 sounds like a good number to start at! Let’s say they rack up a point for every dollar they spend at your restaurant. Their points will accumulate every time they pay a bill or even make a reservation through your website (another cool idea you can check out can be found here).

Once they earn 250 points, they can use those points to order that free meal starter. Let’s be real, how much do your appetizers cost on average, $8-$10? That’s a steal!

Exclusive Discounts on a Meal

If they sign up for your loyalty program, encourage them to add their phone number or email address to their profile? That way, you can send them exclusive discounts on meals beforehand.

This will help drive interest to your restaurant so when they’re choosing where to have their next meal, they’ll remember that you sent them an exclusive coupon to use!

Restaurant Swag

Looking to go above and beyond? Restaurant swag. I mean, who doesn’t LOVE free merch?! It’s a great way to raise brand awareness while incentivizing your customers. Let your customers be walking billboards for your brand.

If you have the extra funds, spend some money on customized cool restaurant t-shirts or hats! Include your logo, maybe even your restaurant address! That way, when they’re wearing their awesome new merch out in public, they’ll target more customers which means more profits for you!

Even better? If you’re going to give away free restaurant swag, you can use that same point system we mentioned above for a free app (but this time, have them collect even MORE points). This means they’ll have to spend even more money to win that awesome restaurant merch!


Restaurant Customer Loyalty Program Examples

Here are a few different examples of customer loyalty programs you can implement at your restaurant!

Points-based rewards

In a points-based rewards system for a restaurant, customers earn points for every dollar or visit to the establishment.

For every dollar spent or each visit, customers accumulate points, which are tracked through a membership card, mobile app, or a customer account.

As customers collect points, they can redeem them for various rewards or benefits, such as free items, discounts, exclusive offers, or even priority reservations, motivating them to return and continue engaging with the restaurant to maximize their rewards.

This system aims to foster customer loyalty and encourage repeat business.

Promotional Rewards

In a promotional rewards system for a restaurant, special offers or incentives are periodically introduced to entice customers and boost business during specific promotional periods.

These rewards can include limited-time discounts, buy-one-get-one-free deals, free add-ons with certain purchases, or themed promotional events.

The goal is to create a sense of urgency and excitement, attracting both new and existing customers to visit the restaurant and take advantage of the temporary offers, thereby increasing foot traffic and sales during the promotional period.

Online Rewards

An online rewards system for a restaurant operates through digital platforms, such as a website or mobile app. Customers can sign up for the program and create an account online, where their activity and purchases are tracked.

Through this digital interface, customers can earn points, receive special offers, and track their rewards status.

Online rewards may include exclusive discounts for online orders, personalized offers based on past purchases, or virtual loyalty cards that can be scanned or redeemed digitally during in-person visits.

This system leverages the convenience of online technology to engage customers, encourage repeat business, and enhance their overall dining experience.

Marketing Channel for New Plate Promotions

marketing channel

When your customers join your loyalty program, they give you permission to send them offers via text or email. As mentioned above, this is a great way to help them get their foot in the door. You can promote signature plates made special just for them. Maybe even give it a code word.

Or, how about a special cocktail? There’s nothing more exciting than a special cocktail that’s not on the menu! They’ll be in for a surprise. This is your chance to stand out against other restaurants. Name it the “Loyal Lion” or the “Secret Sangria” – don’t be afraid to get creative with it!

Going the extra mile and proving to your customers that you’re just as loyal to them as they are to you will be a great way to boost profits and brand awareness. It’s a great way to market your restaurant to customers both old and new!