Building a loyal customer database takes time but is well worth the effort. Instead of restaurant patrons that are loyal to daily deal sites but never visit your restaurant a second time, create a loyalty program by treating your customers well and offering them incentives to visit your restaurant as well as rewarding them with surprise exclusives.
by Ola Ayeni
Get their information
The most important aspect of building a successful loyalty program for your restaurant is building a database with all of your customer information in one place. Having quick access to thousands of emails, phone numbers, birth dates and anniversary dates allows your in-store promotions and specials to be extremely successful. Need help starting a loyalty program? Build your own customer loyalty program with eateria.
Getting restaurant patrons to sign up for your loyalty program can be as easy as offering an incentive to do so. Need an example? Offer guests a free milkshake when they order a burger from you. You always want to make sure that customers still have to spend a minimum amount in order to redeem their welcome gift. Giving away something free without requiring any type of purchase will attract patrons only looking for a freebie.
Just like it feels so nice to have all your friends and family wishing you happy birthday, customers enjoy when restaurants remember their special days. Not only does it make your customers feel wonderful, but it shines a positive light back on your business as well. Encourage your customers to celebrate their birthday at your restaurant with an incentive. For example, offer a free dessert when they choose to dine at your establishment for their birthday.
The best restaurants give any excuse to have their customers visit their restaurant. Sometimes a delicious incentive is all a restaurant patron needs to decide on where to dine out that week. Remembering a customer’s anniversary date and then sending them a special promotion exclusively for them not only helps your restaurant stand out in a positive way but also continually drives business throughout the year to your restaurant. A patron, who may not have thought to visit your restaurant at all, suddenly has a reason to dine at your establishment within a week!
Bring on the surprises
Offering periodic and spontaneous offers keeps your restaurant patrons on your toes and allows them to see value in being part of your restaurant’s loyalty program. Want to know how to keep customers on their toes? Keep your restaurant offers creative. If you have a breakfast restaurant, celebrate Breakfast Month by offering an entrée special for all customers that are part of your loyalty program.
Make them first to know
Keeping with the trend of making loyalty program members feel special, make sure they are always first to know of brand new specials, exclusive offers and are the first to see your new menu. If loyalty program members don’t feel special, they won’t see any value in staying on your mailing list. It’s too easy for restaurant patrons to hit the dreaded “unsubscribe” link on an email. Keep your messages pumped with not only value but also exclusivity.
Keep Recruiting – Adding to your restaurant loyalty program should be an ongoing process throughout all times of the year. Be sure to take advantage of high traffic times in your restaurant to build your database at all times. Treat your customer information like gold. Make sure you always have updated guest phone numbers for sending out text messages and emails for sending out email promotions.
Ola Ayeni is the founder of Dining Dialog and myeateria.com. eateria™ is a digital loyalty marketing platform and a whole new way for restaurant, food and hospitality businesses to interact with their customers based on their on-the-go lifestyle. eateria™ utilizes the best combination of connected channels of email, social media and text message. Dining Dialog is a cutting edge, full service new media marketing company servicing the restaurant, bar and food service industry. For restaurant marketing tips, visit our eateria™ blog at eateria.org/blog/.