Repeat customers keep restaurants and other food producers in business. During a break at one of our certified food manager exam sessions, we engaged in an interesting conversation with the supervisor at a small restaurant about the challenges of utilizing a customer reward program similar to the ones that larger companies use. We thought that it would be interesting to explore some options that smaller companies have to give their returning guests a little something extra.
Certified Food Managers and Customer Loyalty Programs
There are definitely some difficulties involved when trying to compete with major franchises customer loyalty programs. The biggest obstacle being that big corporations have the infrastructure, the manpower and the finances to hire employees dedicated to the process of keeping customers returning to their stores and restaurants. Small business owners have no need to despair, however, there are numerous things that they can do to keep guests coming back.
A small business’ biggest advantage over large corporations is a familiarity factor. Many times regular guests and business owners know each other by name, and having a smaller staff allows your customers and employees to create a relationship based on seeing a familiar face each time they visit your restaurant. Training your employees to recognize returning guests and learn their names can go a long ways towards keeping them coming back as opposed to a loyalty card and the lack of being recognized when they visit large franchises.
Just because your guests know who you are and are greeted personally by staff each time they visit does not mean that you cannot give them something extra for frequenting your establishment. We’ve come up with a few ideas that can reward your regular customers for their business:
- Punch cards
- Free item on birthdays and holidays
- Coupons only available to members of an e-mail club
- Discounts on certain menu items for frequent guests
These are just a few suggestions, and you can get as creative as possible to make it fun for guests to return. Customers spend their money in restaurants that treat them right, but with so many great restaurants in our state it sometimes takes something a little extra to draw them back time and time again. Do you have any special programs for your regular guests?