Loyalty & Outreach
Own the Guest Relationship
Loyalty is often something that restaurants start to think about as they grow and mature. Some don’t consider it at all, it doesn’t fit with their brand or they don’t feel that developing expertise in this area is as important as other endeavors. However, that is changing. When the shelter-in-place orders came into effect, many establishments began to realize that without foot-traffic and the regular dining room experience, they had no way to communicate with their regular guests. In the event that a business pivoted to take-out or counter service type operations, how would a customer know?
Additionally, a loyalty program can help offer incentives to guests to take the additional steps required to do take-out as opposed to thinking of a delivery service first. Loyalty programs have become a crucial part of the mix for any Food & Beverage business going forward.
There a couple basic requirements that you need to be successful with a loyalty program and marketing outreach:
- A customer database. This is the fundamental component of any loyalty initiative. Knowing the basics about a customer – Name, Phone, email, and perhaps key dates such as Birthday or Anniversary – is all that’s required. Of course, it can be expanded to include things like preferred dishes, address, occupation, but those aren’t necessary to begin.
- A way to engage and acquire new customers. The simplest was to do this is to exploit tools you probably already have such as your website and social media.
- An incentive for guests to engage directly with you. The most common practice is a simple points system. Perhaps 10 loyalty points are redeemable for one dollar. A customer earns 50 points for signing up, and an additional point for every dollar spent. They can then redeem these points on future orders.
Here are some other general outreach approaches we’ve seen work for other customers.
Try to see how your website performs in search results, particularly more generic terms for guests who may not know you yet.
Update your profile on services such as Yelp and Google and make sure that information that your guests consider necessary (hours, menu changes, service restrictions) is accurate.
Use social. Many customers are already engaged on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and it’s a fantastic way to reach regional and specific customers.
Develop a customer list if you don’t already have one. If you do, reach out to it with one of the methods below and try and get it updated. Introducing a customer loyalty program or offering a ‘dining bond’ type gift card program is an excellent reason to touch base with your best customers.
If you don’t already have an email program or you do, but it’s primarily been ad-hoc communications, now is an excellent time to consider a consistent email schedule. Let your customers know what off-premise services you’re offering, how they can engage, and any promotions.
Consider using text messaging as a marketing channel if you’re not already. It’s clear that for a specific segment of the market, text is a better channel than email for promotional communications.
If your marketing machine is already humming, consider rolling out a custom mobile application that has exclusive offers for members. Over time as the market continues to change, this provides a channel to guests that is more effective than email or newsletters.
Squirrel, along with some of our partners, have a number of proven solutions for customers to increase their reach, develop succesful loyalty programs, and leverage gift card capabilities. Some of these capabilities might already exist in your system. Others have been packaged into a bundle with waived fees to get started.