10 Rewards Restaurant Customers Love

Posted on October 2nd, 2017 by Breck Hapner

Loyalty & reward integrations for restaurants have been around for years, but they have become increasingly popular as the Internet, mobile app development for restaurants and self-service kiosks have made them easier to manage.

Reward programs are known to increase customer loyalty and, in turn, increased sales. They’re good for customers, who enjoy the discounts and freebies that reward programs often afford, and they’re certainly good for business owners. Some reputable loyalty & rewards partners include Fishbowl, Paytronix, and Punchh.

Bond Brand Loyalty’s 2017 Loyalty report found that:

  • 66 percent of customers adjust their spending in order to maximize their rewards.

  • 73 percent of customers are more likely to recommend a company whose loyalty program they enjoy.

  • 81 percent of customers reported that they were more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer enticing rewards programs.

The question is, what kind of rewards programs offer the most incentives for customers while also boosting a restaurant’s profits?

Types Of Reward Programs

There are several types of reward programs that each offer customers a different type of experience. Some mobile apps serve only to manage a customer’s reward account. Others, sometimes referred to as “lifestyle apps,” are more robust.

The My Starbucks Reward program is perhaps the most famous example of a lifestyle app. It allows customers to place and pay for orders in addition of managing their rewards. Still, some restaurants are continuing to use the “analog” method – giving customer physical cards that are either scanned or hole-punched when a purchase is made, though these are becoming increasingly obsolete as mobile devices offer more convenience.

Which Rewards Work Best?

Customer loyalty is high among restaurants with enticing rewards. Ten of the best types of rewards include:

  1. Free item after an initial purchase: Once customers sign up for a rewards program and makes a purchase, they immediately receive a free item. For example, Auntie Anne’s offers a free pretzel.|

  2. Free items based on repeat visits: This is one of the most popular types of reward programs. Customers earn free items based on either how much they spend or how many items they purchase over a period of time. At Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, customers earn five points for every dollar spent, and 200 points earns them a free drink.

  3. Birthday surprises: Mobile reward program apps allow restaurants to keep track of customers’ birthdays and offer them discounts or free items, either on the day itself or throughout their birthday months. Boloco, Jamba Juice and Qdoba are just a few of the restaurants that offer this perk.

  4. Discounts: Whether offered on every visit or periodically, discounts are an excellent enticement to drive customers into your store. Starbucks and California Pizza Kitchen have been especially effective in driving sales through discounts.

  5. Random discounts and surprises: If you’re just getting a reward program underway and need to see how it will play out financially, offering discounts or free items at random could be a good option. It will allow you to see which types of rewards customers are most excited about, and they will enjoy the unexpected surprise of a free treat.

  6. Weekly or monthly offers: Mobile reward apps also allow you to contact customers via text, email or within the app (through push notifications) regarding weekly or monthly offers. Cold Stone Creamery has done an excellent job of offering monthly deals.

  7. Buy one, get one free: Buy one, get one free offers are incredibly popular among customers. What it costs you in a “lost sale” it will make up for in repeat customers.

  8. Guaranteed deals on every visit: If a customer knows that there is a deal waiting for them on every visit, they’re more likely to keep coming back. For example, TGI Fridays offers its rewards members a free treat, like an appetizer, on every visit.

  9. Cash back: For every X number of dollars a customer spends, he or she will earn X number of dollars to spend at your restaurant. A mobile app makes this simple to track.

  10. Social media check-ins: Offering a freebie or discount in exchange for social media check-ins incentivizes the customer to do a bit of advertising for you. Many restaurants use this feature on Yelp!, alerting customers to deals if they check in while they’re dining. 

Integrating A Reward Program Into Your Business 

If you are interested in implementing a loyalty & reward integration for your restaurant, DineEngine® can help you accomplish that goal in the most effective manner possible. We are experts at developing highly engaging and comprehensive apps that encourage customer engagement. Tell us about your goals and we can design an application that will turn the occasional customer into a loyal patron.