The restaurant business, like many other service-oriented industries, thrives on customer loyalty. Read on to learn how your restaurant can improve its customer retention through the use of a digital-first loyalty program.
Restaurant loyalty programs
There are many good examples of customer loyalty programs for restaurants that help to drive repeat business. Some of the more common customer loyalty programs often utilized by restaurants include:
When a customer orders food via a third-party delivery app, they are given a discount voucher that can be redeemed on their next purchase from your restaurant.
- To build a scene of urgency it is recommended to include a voucher expiration date of 1-2 weeks after the original purchase date.
- Try offering your off-site delivery customers a free appetizer or dessert with the purchase of an entrée on their next in-house visit. This is a great way to turn virtual customers into in-person guests.
Point redemption: When a customer orders food, they are rewarded with loyalty points in lieu of the amount spent. For instance, each customer gets 1 point for every dollar spent. The customers can accumulate these points and redeem them towards free appetizers, desserts, etc. on future visits.
- If your restaurant offers merchandise this is a great way to have loyal customers become champions of your brand by rewarding them with a branded t-shirt or hat.
Membership card: Restaurants can introduce a virtual membership card for a nominal fee. This membership gives access to numerous benefits to customers for their future delivery orders.
- Often included are special members-only discounts, waived or reduced delivery fees, complimentary appetizers or desserts, and other such benefits.
Refer a friend: This is one of the most popular kinds of loyalty programs as it incentivizes your existing customer for referring your brand to their social circle. These programs typically have a great return on investment as you only pay out (typically in the form of a gift card) for the new business generated.
- This is can be an effective method for new brands who are planning to grow their business and increase their brand awareness and want to play off the existing hype of their new concept.
Some of the online tools that can help you to create and manage your loyalty programs include Loyaltygator, Zinrelo, Annexcloud, and LoyaltyLion, to name a few.
2. E-mail and text marketing
Depending on the platform utilized, when a restaurant receives an online order they also get basic details from the customer such as their name, address, phone number, and email address which can be used to build a contact database for your marketing campaigns.
In addition to general restaurant updates and promotions, try sending more personalized offers to your customers on their birthdays and anniversaries to make them feel valued on their special occasions. These small efforts go a long way in building long-term customer relationships.
There are a number of online platforms that can be used to manage and send your SMS and email campaigns at an affordable cost. Some common options include Clicksend, SlickText, Campaign Monitor, and Sendinblue.
3. Engaging social media content
A portion of your existing customers may already be connected with your brand on social media - Make the most of this by posting engaging content. Your social media content can highlight your offerings, dishes, promotional discounts, engagement with the local community, and positive customer reviews.
There are some really interesting social media campaigns and ideas that can be implemented to grow followers. For instance, a restaurant may hold a weekly or monthly contest to increase engagement. In order to be eligible for participation, the restaurant may make it mandatory to like or follow the page and tag friends with whom they would like to visit the restaurant with. Winners are typically rewarded with a gift card to the restaurant or a personal table visit from the chef.
Alternative options to build your restaurant's social media presence include making short videos and posting them as reels, creating visually appealing posts using free tools such as Canva, and putting out posts in line with trending topics. To make the social media management process hassle-free, create a social media calendar at the beginning of each month listing important occasions and days that should not be missed.
4. Pay attention to reviews and feedback
Customer reviews and feedback are essential tools to understand your customer’s needs and thoughts. In addition, these reviews also have an influence on potential new customers that are researching your restaurant to possibly visit or order food from.
Make sure to set up alerts so you receive notifications when your customers leave a new rating or review on a third-party delivery app, your social media, and your Google Business Profile. Read all of your reviews and make sure to reply accordingly. Be courteous and grateful for any positive feedback received and handle any negative feedback with the utmost care ensuring that you take your emotions out of your response when replying. While it is never enjoyable to get negative feedback when received, consider it a valuable learning experience and when applicable make sure to use the information provided to improve your restaurant for its future guests.
5. Ensure timely and accurate orders
A customer expects the restaurant to get the food delivered to their doorstep as early as possible. From the initial receipt of the order to the delivery of the order itself, ensure the process is streamlined so that the food is delivered fresh and in a timely manner.
Instead of receiving online orders on a delivery platform tablet that have to be manually transferred into your POS by your staff, instead consider using a POS integration tool like ItsaCheckmate. Restaurants that have made the switch have not only been able to speed up their delivery times by auto-accepting and injecting online orders received directly into their kitchen in their standard ticket format, but they also experience an immediate 85% reduction in order errors made. This automated process not only saves time and labor hours, but also eliminates all manual order entry errors typically associated with copying orders from delivery tablets.
6. Build a seamless ordering experience
A seamless ordering experience is crucial to elevating your customer's ordering experience and earning repeat business. With Restaurant Direct by ItsaCheckmate, you can take advantage of the Order With Google program which allows restaurants to tap into the millions of customers that order food directly through Google Search and Maps. The feature enables customers searching for food delivery on Google to find, order, and reorder from you in just a few taps. With Restaurant Direct by ItsaCheckmate, food orders placed on Order with Google are relayed straight to your kitchen printer in real-time.
ItsaCheckmate allows a restaurant's existing POS system to automatically accept & route orders from 100+ ordering platforms directly into their kitchen. ItsaCheckmate provides POS integration, simplifies digital menu management, and makes accounting reconciliation with your delivery apps easy.
Our food delivery management software eliminates the need for delivery tablets. It is proven to help restaurant operators grow their delivery revenue, eliminate manual order entry errors, and lower their labor hours.