5 Restaurant Loyalty Program Ideas to Consider

/ Foodservice Tips, Restaurant Tips / December 15

Restaurant Loyalty Program Ideas

Having a well-executed loyalty program is bound to increase revenue, brand sustainability and boost growth while helping you better understand your customers. According to a recent 2023 Bain & Company study, a loyalty program can help restaurants increase customer retention by 5% and profit by 25-95%.

Restaurants with the fine-tuned programs know exactly what outcome they’re aiming for and how to measure success. Once you have a desired outcome or goal in mind, you then have to decide what type of program to establish. But what are the options you can explore? We’ve compiled a list of potential restaurant loyalty program ideas and strategies to consider.

1. Create a Loyalty App

A 2020 McKinsey study claimed that 60% of customers spend more after joining digital loyalty programs. With that in mind, it can be a real benefit to your restaurant to build your program digitally. Having an app is incredibly convenient for both a restaurant and for customers. All they have to do is download the app, create an account and start redeeming rewards. On the backend, the restaurant has ultimate flexibility to manage vouchers and update offers or announcements regularly to bring back return customers.

2. Offer Items or Points for Rewards

There are a few types of reward-based programs you can explore. However, some of the most successful loyalty programs are either item or point driven. Also referred to as a “punch-card” model, an item program incentivizes customers with a reward after a set number of visits or purchases at your establishment. For instance, a customer buys four sandwiches and gets the fifth one free. A point-based program, on the other hand, allows a customer to earn points for every visit or dollar spent. For example, a restaurant can reward a customer different amounts of points for checking in and ordering various items. The customer can then use those points to redeem menu items for free or cash in on special offers.

3. Use a Subscription or Membership Model

While a points-based program can be free, you also have the option of creating a membership opportunity. Customers can pay monthly to join and get exclusive access to a particular menu item or exclusive event. If you sell coffee, you can offer them a fixed monthly price for “free” coffee every day. If you’re a bar, you can offer a trivia night promotion where they can come play and have the first drink on you.

4. Invest in a Text-Based Loyalty Program

Instead of developing an app, you can invest in a text message marketing program that functions like a loyalty rewards system. Text message loyalty programs are an inexpensive way for restaurants to keep customers coming back. The customer signs up online or in-store by giving their phone number. Then, you send them text messages with loyalty rewards and exclusive discounts. The customers come in more frequently to redeem the rewards. It’s simple and only requires a text message marketing platform to help get you started.

5. Encourage Social Sharing

For restaurants and brands that want to build an online presence, this is a very cost-effective strategy that will keep customers coming back in. As an example, you offer a loyalty discount for the top ten social media posts. People that share the best posts of your restaurant or have the most engagement on those posts on Instagram can receive a discount. Or, it can be as simple as a “follow and like us” for a discount in-store.

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