9 Ways to Create a Great Restaurant Loyalty Scheme

“More than 70% of retail and restaurant customers visit only once.”

-Thanx

Getting customers to come back to your establishment, rather than heading off to one of your competitors, is one of the biggest challenges facing UK restaurateurs.

Loyalty schemes have long been recognised as an effective way to drive repeat business – but how do you make a loyalty scheme that really delivers for your restaurant?

In this article, we’ll look at 9 things you need to do to make a great loyalty scheme.

1 – Get an EPOS system

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. To make a really effective loyalty scheme, you need an EPOS system as the central hub. That way you can collect customer information, keep track of their loyalty and then dole out rewards.

A modern EPOS system should allow you to get your hands on a loyalty app – these are often a great way to build out a loyalty scheme.

The Clover App Market is how we deliver these kinds of apps to Clover users. Have a look at the loyalty options and see if any fit the bill for your business.

2 – Make it prominent

If you’re going to offer a loyalty scheme, then it’s worth putting the effort into making sure your customers know about it. There are simple steps you can do to make sure this is the case:

  • Mention it on your menu
  • Ensure your staff talk about it with customers
  • Make it a feature of your marketing

Making first time customers aware of your loyalty scheme increases the chance they’ll sign up, which in turn increases the chance they’ll come back!

3 – Keep it simple

It’s a cliché for a reason! You need your loyalty scheme to be simple for customers to understand and easy for them to make use of – otherwise you’ll find it gets very little in the way of engagement.

The best way to do this is to keep it as digital as possible. The majority of customers won’t want to carry around a physical loyalty card, but will be looking for rewards to be delivered through emails or a mobile app.

Thankfully, many of the loyalty apps available for your EPOS system can provide this kind of functionality.

4 – It’s not all about monetary awards

When you think of a loyalty scheme, you’re probably already thinking about discounts. Incentives are indeed an important way to build customer loyalty, but it doesn’t always need to be money off. Many restaurants are already looking at small profit margins. You don’t want to eat into those just to score repeat business.

Think about other incentives you could offer. A great example is offering loyalty members priority booking at times when often hard to get a reservation.

That could be as simple as holding a table for loyalty bookings on a Friday night, or you could go one step further and use it for a bigger occasion – Valentine’s Day, for example.

5 – Make it work for you

Loyalty schemes don’t just have to offer rewards for customers – there are many ways you can optimise your loyalty scheme so that it actually delivers the goods for you as well.

For example, if you have particular nights of the week that are often poorly attended or seasonal drops in footfall, then offering additional loyalty rewards or targeted discounts can be a great way to pick up some business.

Your loyalty scheme can also give you the chance to retain otherwise tricky voucher customers. These kinds of customers have shown that they like a deal, so if you can show them the value of your loyalty scheme then there’s a good chance they’ll be interested.

6 – Build your brand

Your loyalty scheme gives you the chance to do something that many restaurants struggle with – build your brand.

Are you formal and classy, or colloquial and fun? The way that you communicate with your loyalty customers should convey how you want them to view your restaurant – so if you’re sending them emails, for example, then the tone of those emails should reflect that brand identity.

Building a solid brand impression with your loyalty customers will make it more likely that they’ll become advocates – giving a positive impression of your brand to other people they know.

7 – Be social

Social media is a powerful tool and one that’s had a tremendous impact on the restaurant sector. We’d be very surprised if you haven’t seen at least one person taking a photo of the food you’ve served them to share on Facebook or Twitter.

Encouraging your loyalty scheme users to interact with your social profiles gives you the opportunity to get more activity on those profiles – meaning that new customers that find you through social media will see a more positive picture.

8 – Embrace customer feedback

Passive feedback – as in feedback you haven’t to ask for – is more often than not negative. This is because customers rarely go out of their way to comment on positive experiences. With a loyalty scheme, you have an opportunity to get some honest feedback from people who will be repeat users of your business.

A good approach is to wait until they’ve returned and interacted with the loyalty scheme for a second time – then send them an email with a quick survey. Ask them what they liked and what they didn’t. Collecting this information gives you the opportunity to make improvements, meaning future business is more likely to be retained.

9 – Make it part of your culture

When creating a loyalty scheme, it’s important to remember that this can only be one element of your offering. If you want customers to keep coming back, a loyalty scheme in isolation won’t achieve that. It’ll help, but it needs to be in support of the things that customers expect when they go out for a meal – great food and great service.

A loyalty scheme should be part of an overall culture that is focused on creating a great experience for a customer. When that’s the case, you have the best possible chance of getting customers to come back for seconds.

Find out more about the tech that makes it possible

The evolution of restaurant technology is making bigger and better things possible – loyalty schemes are no different. As a restaurateur, it’s vital you have an understanding of the tech that’s out there and what it can do for your business.

Download our latest free guide and find out how restaurant technology can give your business the edge over the competition.