Restaurant Technology

Restaurants have become tech-savvy by providing an app for their customer base. We’ve seen it from the granddaddies of fast-food chains to local coffee shops and independent bars. While it may seem like just another trend it’s really the next best thing for expanding your customer base and building customer loyalty.

How to Build a Loyalty Program

If you don’t already have a loyalty program started, you’ll need to think about the following while considering an app:

  • know your customer base
    • talk with your regulars: they know your service & menu, see what other customers like, and will understand a portion of your customer base
    • consider a customer survey to find out likes and dislikes in regards to loyalty programs
  • stick to your brand and brand messaging
    • this is not the time to switch up your logo or color theme, customers need your app to reflect what they already know
  • connect your restaurant name with the loyalty program’s name
    • work in a play-on-words, if it is appropriate
    • obtain staff input, or have a contest and ‘voting’ on their favorites
  • devise how customers will earn points or rewards
    • base it on number of items, spending levels, or number of visits
    • double points for certain days or times when business is typically slow
    • tier system where the more they visit the more valuable their rewards are, or for a certain number of visits they receive a new ‘status’ (similar to airline rewards but obtainable)
    • app launch with promotions for customers to download your app
  • remember to make rewards achievable and realistic
    • keep it simple
    • gauge your ideas on known similar competitor programs
    • be creative, purchase small amounts of swag like hats or glasses

Why an App for a Loyalty Program?

Marketing to millennials now is critical to the future growth of your restaurant, and apps are an easy way to regularly market to them along with all generations. There are currently 75 million millennials in America, of which 90% have a smartphone and 96% have enrolled in a restaurant loyalty program. If millennials are not your target audience, a loyalty app is still a great way to engage Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers with smartphones. For more information on generational use of smartphones, iPads, and tablets, click here.

Similar to any loyalty program, it is all about building brand loyalty, boosting your bottom line, increasing the “regular” customer base, and attracting new customers. Having a well-made app will also attract customers from the millennial generation. An app will allow your customers to do a variety of activities, including:

  • viewing their points
  • being notified or view discounts or specials
  • perusing the menus or their favorite orders
  • providing links to your social media or review pages
  • allowing table reservations
  • ordering food before arriving or for pickup

Another advantage of an app is that people become actively engaged with your restaurant outside of your storefront. Customers with the app are also more likely to show others your app, which becomes a secondary (and free) marketing benefit! Offering a loyalty app will also give a boost to your restaurant’s reputation because apps are still new to restaurant loyalty programs.

Best Practices in Loyalty App Success

When you decide it’s the right time, how do you decide what to include in your loyalty app? With a sea of options, stick to the following four factors to launch a successful loyalty app:

1.  Customization

Partner with a developer who will work with you to build your app focusing on your brand, logo, and feel to recreate your restaurant’s atmosphere. After all, a majority of people know what “golden arches” is in the restaurant world. Imagine if their app had a different colored or shaped logo. Mos