7 Strategies for Building Your Restaurant Rewards Program

July 20, 2021

7 Strategies for Building Your Restaurant Rewards Program

The pandemic has shifted the way people view the hospitality industry. In the wake of COVID-19, consumers have become more mindful of where they spend their time and money.

As a result, restaurant rewards programs have become more important than ever. These programs are an effective way to increase customer loyalty and make more money.

How so? Loyalty programs encourage guests to spend more, engage with businesses on a deeper level, and cultivate stronger relationships. This post will outline the benefits of restaurant rewards programs, and explore a series of proven strategies for developing your own.

The Power of Customer Loyalty Programs

Restaurant rewards are a form of customer loyalty programs—catering specifically to food and beverage establishments and their consumers.

These programs are simple. We’ve all been there, right? Maybe you’ve accumulated enough points at your local coffee shop to earn a free signature drink, or you’ve become such a loyal customer at that lunch spot down the street that your next purchase will include two entrees for the price of one.

You get the picture. Generally, rewards programs in the restaurant industry include discounted meals, complimentary menu items—say, a drink or coffee—or even early access to reservations. In many cases, rewards are issued based on how much (or how often) specific consumers spend at your establishment.

The purpose of rewarding these customers? Your regulars tend to spend more money overall. Gartner, in fact, has shared that 80% of all future revenue will come from 20% of your current customer base.

In other words, customer loyalty is key to profitability. This means it’s more important to invest in the guests you have now than it is to attract new ones (although both are beneficial). But here’s the thing: Engaging new customers is 16 times more expensive than retaining the ones you already have.

Lower acquisition costs. Higher customer spend. These are just two pillars that make up the power of restaurant rewards programs. Guests who participate in these programs tend to shell out 18% more than other customers, while 78% of customers are more likely to continue patronizing businesses with active loyalty programs.

Build Your Restaurant Rewards Program: 7 Tips

How can you keep your restaurant guests happy, engaged, and eager to head back to your establishment? In addition to delicious meals, a vibrant atmosphere, and impeccable service, a rewards program may well be your answer.

As more establishments reopen, and lockdowns (fingers crossed) become a thing of the past, restaurants are turning to rewards programs in droves. This is because customer loyalty programs are a proven way to spend a little bit of money to make a whole lot of money.

It’s no wonder so many businesses are onboard. According to the Software Advice Business Model report, 58% of participants maintained their rewards programs during the pandemic, while 23% expanded them. 6% of respondents, in turn, budgeted for their very first loyalty program.

So to summarize, regardless of where you are in your restaurant rewards program journey, now could be the time to refine your approach.

With that, here are seven strategies for creating—or cultivating—a compelling restaurant rewards program:

1. Make your rewards accessible.

It may seem counterintuitive, but simpler rewards programs are usually better. People are busy enough as it is—we’re all under a fair amount of stress—so you want earning rewards to be easy. Instead of presenting a riddle that customers just don’t have time to figure out, turn to a trusted format: like a point system, for instance, or a buy-two-get-one-free offer.

2. Focus on social integration.

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: In this day and age, social integration is critical. If someone enrolls in your rewards program, you’ll want to make sure they can share the perks they receive with their network. Whether they want to show off their latest freebie, or earn extra points by posting your business on TikTok or Instagram, don’t overlook this very important strategy.

3. Confirm the rewards are appealing.

Think about your own experiences as a consumer. If you have to invest in 25 meals to earn a free cookie, you might not feel particularly motivated to maintain your status as a repeat customer. On the other hand, if you accumulate enough points after 10 small purchases to receive a complimentary salad or sandwich, the rewards program might just be worth your while.

4. Collect feedback from your guests.

To dive further into what we just mentioned, think carefully about what guests really want. You can collect feedback by sending out a survey to your email subscribers—with the goal of asking consumers what they like most about your program, and what they think you might be able to improve upon. Maintain an open dialogue, and elevate your restaurant rewards program over time.

5. Keep your staff informed.

Even the best reward programs won’t amount to much if you don’t encourage your team to share them with the world. What this means is that you’ll want to make sure your employees understand exactly how your loyalty program works, and remind them that they should be able to explain its benefits in a clear and enticing way. Bonus points if you incentivize the experience in-house as well.

6. Create a sense of urgency.

A common challenge in the restaurant rewards space are loyalty programs that lack urgency. While non-time-sensitive rewards are still appealing, you don’t want guests to forget about your establishment. So, while you don’t need every offer to feature a sense of urgency, you may want to send an occasional email with a one-time freebie. Shoot for something that has to be redeemed in the next few days.

7. Promote your program online and offline.

Whether you rely on a mobile app, a website, or both, building a digital presence will help you share content with your customer base and drive even greater loyalty. That said, you should also promote your rewards program in-house. Flyers at the counter, blurbs printed directly on your menu, and even reminders at the point-of-sale can go a long way in pushing the awesome deals you’re offering.

Do these strategies sound workable to you? Regardless of where you’re at from a restaurant rewards standpoint, these tips will help you elevate your business and further connect with guests.

That’s right: With these tactics in your arsenal, you’ll have all the tools you need to connect with your most loyal consumers.

Connect with Spindy Today

Are you ready to develop or refine your restaurant rewards program? Connect with Spindly today, and our expert team will walk you through everything you need to know about offering rewards in the food and beverage space.

With us, rewarding your most loyal consumers is easy. All you need to do is set your cash-back offer, wait for it to be published, and watch your community buy from you in-store. They’ll pay full price, and you’ll only need to cover the cash back on the sales our platform delivers.

If you’re interested in learning more, we have you covered. Contact us today with questions, comments, or to kick-start your rewards program.

Contact spindy if you have questions or comments about this article.