Restaurant loyalty programs that offer deep discounts, 2-for-1 offers or daily deal marketing programs take note: A recent survey revealed the overwhelming majority of restaurant-goers will frequent their regular, favorite restaurants, regardless of price or promotion.
Are restaurant specials or special restaurants the key to restaurant loyalty?
They say “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and apparently the same holds true when it comes to restaurant loyalty programs. When it comes to restaurant loyalty, it might be more effective restaurant marketing to offer customers a special restaurant, rather than reduce margins and profitability through discounts and restaurant specials.
Since we provide restaurant POS (point of sale) terminals, software and mobile solutions, we hear about a variety of creative ideas from our customers. When small business owners come to us for restaurant POS equipment or software, it’s often to help fuel their growth. Putting effective restaurant marketing tactics into place is usually high on their list of priorities.
So we took note when a marketingcharts.com article pointed out that when it comes to customer loyalty to restaurants, only about one quarter of those surveyed in a new report from The NPD Group will switch restaurants because of a special promotion. A wide majority of restaurant-goers said that regardless of promotions, they would continue to dine at their familiar, favorite restaurants, instead.
Turns out, the best way to gain loyalty among restaurant customers isn’t by offering discounts and restaurant specials — it’s by making the restaurant special. So we came up with six ways you can make your restaurant more special in order to garner customer loyalty, repeat visits and referrals.
6 Ways to Improve Restaurant Loyalty Marketing
1. Train and empower staff to go the extra mile for customers in solving problems, righting wrongs or relieving dissatisfaction.
2. Infuse every customer visit with an unexpected, exclusive “gift;” be creative! This could be as simple and inexpensive as:
- bringing a treat with the check that is different than delivered to adjacent tables
- bringing a sample size of a new appetizer, entrée or drink and ask diners to taste and provide feedback (this might even spur new sales of that menu item!)
- having hand-written thank you cards at the ready and asking wait staff to sign and deliver at the end of a customer’s visit
3. Create a unique and impeccable atmosphere. Infuse elements of your brand identity into memory points throughout your restaurant. Install furnishings that reflect your brand and caters to customer comfort, privacy and other amenities.
4. Solicit, act on and recognize customers who provide you with suggestions for improvements. People love to be recognized – why else would all those restaurants feature photo walls of sombrero-laden patrons? Certainly not for the fashion statement!
5. Be connected within your community in supporting causes and organizations that matter to your most valuable customers. Host a local business networking group. Support student car washes and fundraisers. Recognize local community servants.
6. Above all else, be known for the quality of experience that you deliver from end to end during the customer’s experience at your restaurant – especially, of course, the food! Restaurants develop loyal patrons by delivering consistent quality of menu items and exceptional, unique levels of personalized service, time and time again.
The key to loyalty for restaurant customers must lie in delivering what the customer has come to expect – and want – over and over again. They want to know that they can count on their favorite restaurant, and their favorite menu item, when they’ve had a bad day, when they’re hosting an out of town guest, when they want to impress a boss or co-worker or they just want to relax with family or friends.
So forget restaurant specials! Deliver quality of restaurant customer experience, and you will make your restaurant special – which produces a far greater return on restaurant loyalty.