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6 Effective Restaurant Loyalty Programme Ideas For Managers

Research shows that 57% of adult consumers are more likely to visit restaurants that have a loyalty programme in place. This shows that implementing a loyalty programme can not only build customer loyalty, but also increase your sales too as customers are eager to redeem their rewards. The only way to redeem those rewards is if they return to your restaurant. It's time for you to take advantage of that and consider creating a restaurant loyalty programme of your own.



The advantage you have is that you're not limited to the types of loyalty programmes you can have. You might feel that one will benefit your restaurant more than the other options which keeps customers coming back. We've put together some potential ideas to help you decide the right programme for your restaurant, and how each one adds value of its own. The 6 restaurant loyalty programme ideas include:


Points-Based Schemes
Membership Programmes
Punch Card Schemes
Refer-A-Friend Schemes

Digital Loyalty

Tiered Memberships


1. Points-Based Schemes

A point-based loyalty scheme is the most common programme, as it's used in many restaurants and is proven to be a success for both restaurants and your consumers. It's a simple scheme, too. Customers place their order, they're asked if they have a loyalty card and when they present it, their points are added to their loyalty card for them to use on another visit.


Why Customers Like It

Customers will have a target in mind. They'd want the discounts that certain points can bring or even free food - effectively trading their loyalty points for food and drinks. That's for you to decide as the restaurant manager. Offers like these will have customers coming back and spending more money so that they can continue adding points to their loyalty cards. Starbucks do this with their My Starbucks Reward scheme, where each visit gives customers one star and 15 stars results in a free drink. The higher the points total, the better the 'reward' a customer can redeem. As mentioned, this can range from discounts, right through to free drinks or food.



How To Do It

Ordering loyalty cards in bulk proves to be a more cost-effective option and a wise decision. You'd rather order too many loyalty cards for this scheme than not enough. Marketing is simple too. We see restaurants advertise it on their windows, but nothing beats word of mouth. Think about the last time you went to a restaurant as a customer and not a manager. Chances are you were probably asked if you have a loyalty card or if you'd like to take one for free. While joining the programme is free for customers, they'll be spending a lot of money to increase their points total. Continually asking customers if they'd like to join the programme pays off and you'll expect a large volume agreeing if they know that the rewards are worth it.

2. Membership Programmes

While joining a points-based programme can be free, you also have the option of creating a membership scheme where customers have to pay to join. Obviously, it's not compulsory but you have the chance to offer special rewards and prices for members. This is where customers sign-up to become members of your restaurant and pay for a membership which gives them unique benefits and discounts which non-members don't receive.


Why Customers Like It

Customers like exclusivity. They'd want to know that what they're paying to join and it means they're not given the same offers as non-members. Even though they'll be paying for a membership, customers like this scheme because it opens plenty of doors for them, such as member-only prices at your restaurant. It might also include food that's not on the menu, member-only promotional events along with food promotions and vouchers that only members can redeem. It doesn't have to be a paid membership, but you probably won't give the non-paying members such exclusive rewards.


How To Do It

If customers are paying to become members of your restaurant, chances are they're not going to be eating out at other places as they want to make the most of what they're paying for. So, give them that VIP treatment. Sometimes going overboard with marketing a membership isn't the best way to do it. Look at Nando's and the mythical black card where members supposedly receive free food. That's never advertised yet the interest still remains and loyal customers practically beg for a black card.

Word of mouth spreads quickly too. So while some marketing and offering customers a chance to join can go a long way, customers recommending the scheme to others can have an even bigger impact.

3. Punch Card Schemes

Punch Card loyalty programmes are initiated on a visit or purchase basis, rather than on a percentage of money spent. Customers get a stamp on their card each time they visit or each time they buy a meal. Once the card is full and the reward has been redeemed, customers are given a new one to start the process all over again.


Why Customers Like It

The main selling point of this loyalty programme is that customers won't be pressured into paying a certain amount, unlike other schemes. Their instinct will be to visit your restaurant because regardless of what they'll order, you'll be giving them a stamp and moving them one step closer to the reward.


How To Do It

You outline rewards for a set number of stamps. For example, a punch card might have 10 stamps in total and 10 stamps gets a customer a free starter of their choosing. You can even buy loyalty cards and create a variety. This might be the more visits from a customer, the bigger the reward. Research shows that one loyalty card member is better than two non-members, as they spend up to two times more per visit. Again, asking if customers have a loyalty card will create a habit of them visiting and asking for you to give a stamp while advertising also acts as a beneficial marketing tactic.



4. Refer-A-Friend Scheme

This option is a less full-on version of a loyalty scheme. This is a scheme where the server is able to ask a customer while they're paying if they would be interested in the refer-a-friend scheme. If they are, you take their name and email address and give them a voucher code which they can give to a friend for 10% off, for example.


Why Customers Love It

This is ideal for when customers don't want to be pressured into committing long-term. It's a one-off option to receive a discount which they can use again and again, depending on how many friends they refer. Plus, they're not having to continue tracking their progress or points total either, they simply show the voucher code and are given the discount you promised.


How To Do It

On the cost front, this isn't something you'll have to worry about. As long as you're quick to act when emailing codes, then customers will be satisfied and will be more prone to referring more friends to receive further discounts. It also eliminates the hassle of purchasing cards and systems to track points, especially if that's not an expense you want but still want a form of a loyalty programme. Again, while advertising this programme can work, it's usually down to your staff to ask whether they'd be interested in the offer, as customers might not be aware of it.


5. Digital Loyalty Programmes

Loyalty programmes don't need to be physical where customers present cards to receive points. With the increased use of social media, it could be beneficial for your restaurant to build your online presence while creating a digital-only scheme. Especially since 59% of 25-34 year olds believe it's important for a loyalty scheme to offer a digital option.


Why Customers Love It

A digital loyalty scheme at your restaurant means your customers won't have the headache of remembering to bring a loyalty card with them. In fact, 18% of customers have said that remembering to bring a physical voucher or card is the biggest inconvenience. Customers will like the fact that you have embraced technology to an extent where you can keep up with the demands. Plus, it allows them to redeem offers from the comfort of their own home which can be used on their next visit.

How To Do It

Like the previous point, it's all about building and maintaining your online presence. Selecting peak times to send out offers on social media and information on how to redeem such offers will have customers waiting in anticipation for the next one you send out. Or even going the extra mile and creating mobile apps. Obviously, make the rewards worth it so their attention isn't diverted. If you're offering large discounts and potentially free food for a limited period online and on social media, then you're reaching an entirely different and valuable audience.


6. Tiered Memberships

Tiered loyalty programmes are a two-way street. It helps you retain those loyal customers while the same customers continue to visit your restaurant more and more so they can move up to a higher tier. For example, a starting membership might be a bronze card which has certain offers. However, the more customers visit, spend and eat in your restaurant, the closer they are to potentially receiving a silver or gold loyalty card.


Why Customers Love It

As a restaurant manager, you'll be setting yourself up for success by introducing tiered memberships. As mentioned with the membership loyalty, customers will want rewards that other customers can't get and the social status that comes with it. So, they could be tempted to visit more and spend more so that they receive a higher tier loyalty card quicker.


How To Do It

This can be advertised in numerous ways, including social media, word of mouth, online ads and more. Advertising the rewards is key with a tiered membership. This is because bigger rewards in higher tiers will act as motivation for customers to spend more in your restaurant. For example, highlight that the reward on the bronze tier is a tempting discount. A silver tier reward might be a free drink for you and X amount of guests, while the gold reward might be a completely free meal.

Keeping Staff Loyal

Having loyal staff members can be just as important as loyal customers. Hospitality staff turnover rates are exceedingly high so, what are you doing to ensure your employees are happy and willing to stay with your restaurant? With slips, trips and falls being the most common workplace accident, having an unsafe restaurant for employees has a big impact on their safety.


The best defence for preventing your staff from slipping and injuring themselves is through wearing slip-resistant shoes, specially designed for the restaurant industry and the types of floors and hazards that you and your staff will face.



How do you grow restaurant sales in 2020? How do you take your venue to the next level, whilst motivating your team and staying ahead of the competition? Our guide details everything you need to know! 


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