Restaurant Loyalty Program: Rewarding Customers is Always Great for Business

Marketing 19 minute read 1st June 2022

Our beloved regulars are the lifeblood of any restaurant business. Having loyal customers means having business you can depend on whatever the economic climate is and despite changing trends in customer behavior. Restaurant loyalty programs, therefore, are a must if you want to convert as many one-off guests as possible into loyal customers.

Customers like to go where their business is appreciated, and a restaurant loyalty rewards program is a time-tested customer investment that gives your patrons the appreciation they deserve. Your appreciation can take the form of exclusive discounts and deals and, in return, you foster loyalty and generate consistent sales and community interest in your establishment.

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Loyalty rewards go both ways

Understanding the psychology of customer loyalty programs is pretty straightforward. A restaurant loyalty program is a win-win solution for both your business and your valuable regulars. When loyalty goes both ways, so do the rewards. Let’s take a look at the important reasons why a customer loyalty program is good for business.

  1. Boost repeat business. Good food, good service, and a loyalty program make up the trifecta that guarantees repeat business from customers. Especially when the novelty of your establishment wears off, it often gets harder to get more first-time customers as time goes by. According to Harvard Business Review, it can cost five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to generate repeat business. If you focus on generating a high rate of customer retention then you can be assured of having regular business for a long time.
  2. Increase sales. Customer loyalty programs for restaurants are an effective way to incentivize regular visits. To get their exclusive rewards, customers must visit often and spend money — which means more sales. The same study from Harvard Business review also reports that even a humble 5% increase in customer loyalty can lead to a 25-95% increase in your overall profit.
  3. Generate new customers. Happy customers mean good word-of-mouth advertising for your establishment. They’ll naturally recommend your business to people they know, and you can create and maintain an excellent online reputation through their reviews. Nielsen reports that a whopping 83% of customers trust personal recommendations more than other types of business promotion.
  4. Get valuable customer insights. If you go digital and use restaurant loyalty program software, you will also have access to actionable customer insights, such as buying patterns, customer demographics, and trends in restaurant traffic. You can use these data to improve your service, personalize and enhance customer experience, guide key business decisions, and create more effective and inspiring marketing strategies.

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How to create the best restaurant loyalty program

Food is a basic necessity of life, but being in the business of providing this necessity does not guarantee that your establishment will also have a healthy life. You have to give your customers a good reason, if not excellent one, to keep coming back. If they can also enjoy exclusive rewards every time they fill up on their favorite items on your menu, then your business can also get the nourishment it needs. Here are some tips to help you create a profitable restaurant loyalty program.

  • Digitize your restaurant loyalty program. This is a more convenient option for your customers, and gives you a more efficient way to manage your program. You can also easily integrate your loyalty program into your online ordering system and/or mobile app so you can get the complete picture of each customer’s purchasing behavior.
  • Make the sign-up process quick and easy. Even with the tempting rewards that await them, a lot of customers aren’t willing to spend too much time signing up for something and, much less, to give away too much personal information. The digital option solves this problem.
  • Generate interest for your loyalty program. Feature your restaurant loyalty program prominently in your restaurant, website, and mobile app, and frequently on your social media pages. Learn even more about ways to master restaurant marketing.
  • Know your customers. Make sure your rewards program offers something your customers actually want. You can use insights from your online ordering system or guest WiFi system to understand your customers’ needs and preferences and appropriately personalize your loyalty program. Make sure to choose the right WiFi system for these purposes.
  • Create a tiered rewards system. You can further level up your restaurant loyalty program — and further incentivize loyalty members to come back more frequently and spend more — by offering different reward levels. Give your most loyal customers the VIP treatment with exclusive access to special events and extra-special perks through bonus points.

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Restaurant loyalty program ideas

There are a lot of ways that you can reward your loyal customers for their steadfast support. Here are some restaurant loyalty program ideas to inspire you.

Points-based loyalty reward system

As customer loyalty program ideas go, this is the most common system for rewarding loyal patronage. Customers earn a certain number of points for a certain amount they spend, i.e., one point for every dollar spent. The loyalty points can be redeemed at point values you set, for store credit, a free dessert or drink, or merch. Implement a simple and straightforward points-based rewards system so your customers know exactly what to expect depending on how much they spend.

Restaurant loyalty program that rewards discounts

Customers who sign up for your restaurant loyalty program get a certain discount per visit or online order. You can offer this reward for life or it can be renewable per year. Members get an exclusive discount card and you can also integrate a points-based rewards system into it to give your loyal customers more incentive to dine with you often.

Restaurant loyalty program that rewards items

“Buy 4 and get your 5th for free” is a good example of an items-based rewards program. Most businesses count one purchase per receipt, and not per item; this ensures that customers will come back to accumulate the required number of purchases/receipts. Instead of earning points, customers earn stars or something similar. Another way to implement this system is by offering a gift card, a free drink of their choice of specific size or value, or other perks to customers who purchase a minimum value (to earn one star) a certain number of times, dine in (worth one star) a certain number of times, or buy a single item over a certain amount.

Subscription-/membership-based restaurant loyalty program

This works by giving rewards to subscribed customers, or customers who subscribe to become members of your loyalty program, when they reach a certain milestone, i.e., their 1st year of membership. A year’s paid subscription for a bar loyalty program could also be equivalent to unlimited refills of a particular drink for a whole year. And for bar loyalty programs, you can throw in a Members Only item, such as a tumbler. You can also offer your customers the option of a monthly subscription. Offer VIP experiences to customers who have been subscribed for a certain number of years.

Promotional loyalty rewards program

Promotional rewards for your restaurant loyalty program have to be redeemed within a certain time period. Examples are birthday rewards, i.e., a customer can dine for free any time during their birth month and with 2 paying customers or they can get a free slice of cake; holiday promotional rewards, i.e., customers can get a free upsize on holiday drinks or a free dessert on their next visit (within the promotional period) with a minimum single purchase; a welcome-back promotional reward for customers who haven’t dined in or ordered online for a while; or a special treat for the 100th person who likes a particular post on social media or for anyone who promotes your food on social media and gets a certain number of likes.

Online exclusive restaurant loyalty program

You can use any of the rewards systems mentioned above but offer it exclusively for online orders through your restaurant app. Loyalty program apps for restaurants are ideal if you want to boost app downloads and online sales, and especially for home-based food businesses with no brick-and-mortar stores. Another way to do this is by offering a discount coupon code for their first online order and which they can use on their next purchase, whether online or in-store.

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Restaurant loyalty program software

If you’re looking for a digital loyalty rewards solution, here are the most popular loyalty programs for restaurants available today.

  • Comarch Loyalty Marketing Platform. Comarch provides a complete set of tools for both loyalty management and digital marketing designed to increase customer lifetime value (CLV) and improve ROI.
  • Zinrelo. This is a restaurant loyalty program software that combines topnotch loyalty technology with data sciences and AI to deliver customer loyalty rewards programs that drive meaningful revenue.
  • Capillary. The company offers customized loyalty programs which enable real-time intervention and personalization based on customer behaviors and other data insights.
  • Loyaltygator. This easy-to-use loyalty program software can be used to offer a points-based rewards system to customers and/or customized incentives, as well as to automate thank you emails and promotional emails.
  • Paytronix. This software delivers an all-in-one customer service platform to help you enhance customer experience and cultivate loyalty. You can create your restaurant’s online order and delivery system, custom loyalty program, marketing campaigns, and branded or custom mobile restaurant loyalty apps, among many others.

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Build loyalty in more ways than one with your guest WiFi

In addition to having a restaurant loyalty program, providing an enhanced guest experience also ensures repeat business and cultivates loyal patronage. A must-have digital innovation for any business which delivers benefits to both the business and its customers is a guest WiFi system.

With the right WiFi system, you will not only attract more guests by giving them free access to your network; you’ll also capture their loyalty by providing them with an enhanced dining experience from start to finish. A WiFi system that best suits your needs and those of your guests is one that is fully customizable — a system like Beambox. Ensure that your guest WiFi works to your advantage and provides the best customer experience exactly the way you want.

Connect, capture, and keep more customers with Beambox. Show them your appreciation with WiFi that remembers and welcomes them each time they visit; display targeted content to your guests via a customized captive portal login; build a loyal following on your social media and within your community; integrate your restaurant loyalty program into your Beambox WiFi platform; harness relevant customer data and have a better understanding of the people who love your business with smart marketing tools; and establish a perfect online reputation with customer reviews.

Beambox has an existing client base of over 3,000 venues, and our customizable WiFi marketing solutions have been used in impressive and rewarding ways. You can drive sales with time-sensitive deals and promos for your restaurant, boost social engagement through Instagram or Facebook contests, and climb up on online ranking platforms through real-time customer reviews.

Beambox is an all-in-one WiFi solution that accomplishes all of the above and more. Accelerate your business growth — start your Beambox free trial today!


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