Effective Restaurant Loyalty Programs

Restaurant Loyalty Programs: Obtaining members is your initial much-needed step towards establishing a loyalty program.

Publicizing the program’s launch through in-store marketing, social networking, and customer email lists is a fantastic start. Special promos have netted significant results for some restaurants.

In March, Chipotle made a media splash when it rolled out its loyalty program nationally — and coincided the launch with a $250,000 giveaway, in increments of $1 up to $500, through the payment program Venmo.

Within a couple of weeks, the program surpassed one million members. Was Chipotle’s success due to the cash incentive or the pent-up demand for a loyalty program or a little bit of both?

The golden star for member recruitment goes to Starbucks. The coffee roaster has worked aggressively to expand its electronic reach, adding over 13 million digitally registered clients to its rankings in the last year, thanks in large part to the group that obtained Starbucks’ Happy Hour marketing last year.

“Between digitally documented and active reward clients, we’re now approaching 30 million electronic relations in the U.S.,” said Kevin Johnson, President, and CEO, in a quarterly conference call with analysts. “To build our digital ecosystem we widened the aperture of electronic reach and generated a funnel of activation that’s resulting in increases in active membership in our Starbucks Rewards program.”

Restaurant Loyalty Programs
Restaurant Loyalty Programs

“Being in Silicon Valley, we see a good deal of restaurant technology,” said Cox.

“The reason we enjoyed it : No one needed to do anything after signup. The credit card monitors all of the purchases.”

“We heard from our clients a new rewards program had to be simple to use and redeem, that is why we offer both a reusable card and a digital friendly program,” said Alex Macedo, President, Tim Hortons.

“Part of our large focus for the past two years has been focusing on what electronic related,” says Concepcion. “Third-party shipping, online ordering has changed the mix of earnings coming through. For the casual diner, there is a war for foot traffic.”

“Loyalty programs are table stakes,” he says. “If we know we have all these orders coming through these electronic platforms and customers need a loyalty program… let us give them a seamless solution that combines digital ordering and devotion.”

Famous Dave’s teamed up with Punchh to create the solution that is integrated into Famous Dave’s company stores’ POS and the majority of its franchise locations’ POS.

Leverage Free WiFi

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza has gained a deeper understanding of more of its guests, thanks to free WiFi and the integration of Zenreach with the Paytronix Rewards Platform.

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza was looking for ways to maintain a high level of guest engagement. To do this, Anthony’s leveraged Zenreach for its WiFi marketing platform to collect guest information during the WiFi login process and leveraged Paytronix’s Rewards Platform to understand customer preferences and drive loyalty.

Anthony’s wanted to integrate the two technologies to streamline data flows and remove manual processes for greater efficiencies. Customer contact information and visit behavior collected through Zenreach flows automatically to Paytronix where it is used to reward customers.

The results have been impressive: Anthony’s has collected 150,000 new customer emails and has brought back 1,800 lapsed customers.

“Our Club Rewards program is growing much faster today and the amount of clients encouraged to join has more than doubled,” said Skip Kimpel, VP Information Technology, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, in a statement. “By combining timely and appropriate communication with a rewards program, we are getting better performance and value from our client communications.” Kimpel shared the brand’s success story at MURTEC 2019 during the session, “Stop Leaving Guest Data on the Table!”

Keep ‘Em Engaged

Once you have members enrolled in your loyalty program, you need to keep them engaged and interested through ongoing marketing. One way to do this is with personalized offers.

Pacific Catch uses segmented marketing based on purchase data and customer insights –“who is coming in frequently, who will be the big spenders so we can benefit them and section them in various ways,” he says. “Then we could follow them up in numerous ways.”

Restaurants including Pacific Catch are using this data to personalize offers and experiences based on eating habits.

“For us it’s about how can we keep engaging with people,” says Cox.

Boston-based B. Good recently developed a new loyalty program and mobile app in-house, switching from a vendor-supplied surprise-and-delight model to a custom one that’s based on personal choice.

“From the backend, we finally have the ability to glean more behavioral insights and place those insights into actions. For example, we are able to observe the exact time of day that clients are coming in (lunch vs. dinner), the menu items they are buying (burgers vs. bowls) and places that they are visiting. While we had access to some of the data before, it was more limited,” explains Brent Feldman, Chief Marketing Officer. “From the consumer standpoint, we are now able to deliver offers and information that is most relevant to them, so if their behaviour indicates they are a vegetarian, they are not getting news of our seasonal Maple Bacon Burger… From the brand standpoint, this level of personalization will finally help boost long-term relationships with our clients.”

A second way to keep customers engaged with your loyalty program is by offering them ways to earn bonus points or even ways to play games with your company, says Cheetah Digital, a cross-channel marketing solutions provider. This will nurture customer relationships while keeping the interest level high. Cheetah Digital points to Chipotle as one of the restaurants that have oversimplified its loyalty program. (Chipotle Rewards members earn 10 points for every $1 spent, 1,250 points resulting in a free entrée. Extra point days help members earn points more quickly — and drive traffic to the store.)

Chipotle Rewards members earn 10 points for every $1 spent, 1,250 points resulting in a free entrée.

Programs similar to Chipotle’s reward customers on how much they spend. Overall, the program doesn’t seem to foster a relationship with their customers or nurture an emotional connection; it’s simply transactional, says Cheetah Digital.

However, Cheetah Digital points to Old Chicago Pizza and Tap House as an operator that’s thinking beyond the transactions to provide additional engagement and therefore create an effective loyalty program. In addition to a traditional loyalty program, the pizzeria offers customers a craft beer challenge that plays into the craft beer craze. The penultimate challenge is to sample the 110 beers on tap, and once complete, the customer’s name is entered into the “Hall of Foam.”

Fans can see where they stand on the app and the site, and the program tracks every beer sampled. There’s the main incentive and smaller incremental incentives to edge fans along. Along the way, there are milestones and giveaways such as keychains, hats, and t-shirts to keep fans engaged. And if 110 beers are too lofty a goal, there’s a mini-tour of 8-12 seasonal beers on tap.

B.GOOD loyalty club members can donate their points to one of 25 causes.

A third way to engage with customers is by offering them the option to use their loyalty points for more than free food; let them give back to the community they live in. B.GOOD combined its traditional rewards with its mission when it relaunched its loyalty program in March. Like other loyalty programs, B.GOOD Rewards is a points-based structure that gives points for every dollar spent. Customers can redeem rewards for select menu items. But they also have the option to donate their points to B.GOOD’s network of 25 community partners.

The restaurant has had community partners since it launched its app in 2015, explains Feldman. And its loyalty program, and the ability to donate to these charitable causes, are integrated into its mobile app.

“…Connecting communities and uplifting great is also an integral part of what we do,” he said. “It was a no-brainer to provide our customers the chance to help drive positive social and environmental impact through a donation attribute.”

For their rewards, the community partners can choose B.GOOD food or a cash donation equivalent.

Within the next month, BurgerFi customers will be able to access their loyalty info from the kiosks.

The Cool Factor

Don’t underestimate the cool factor and customer desire for convenience when implementing new technology to help establish loyal customers. It’s working for BurgerFi.

About two years ago BurgerFi rolled out kiosks to its corporate stores that have facial recognition tech. Within the next month, customers will be able to access their loyalty information from the kiosks, says Hannah Barnett Keyser, Director, Digital Marketing.

The chain’s loyalty program with LevelUp is mobile app-based and includes mobile payment.

“Even though the kiosks do have facial recognition technology, we did not use it,” at first explains Lou Palermo, Vice President Financial Planning and Operational Support. Instead, the burger chain opted to get other aspects of the kiosk online. “We wanted to test it to make sure it was completely functioning before rolling out.”

Then about a year ago, BurgerFi began using the facial recognition feature, which remembers the customer’s facial geometry.

“If you’re a first-time person, it won’t recognize you. You need to opt-in for the facial recognition. We don’t want anybody to be a part of something that they do not wish to become a part of.”

Here’s how it works: When customers place orders through the kiosk, they are asked if they want the order to be remembered — either by credit card number, face, or mobile number. The system can save multiple orders. Currently about 60% of customers opt-in to have their orders saved.

“Customers like the novelty — the cool factor — of it,” says Palermo. “We are constantly trying to innovate and differentiate ourselves from the competition… We are always looking for what is next.”

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