Train Your Customers To Be Your Restaurant's Best Friend With A Frequent Diner Program

Jerry Wilson

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The History Of Frequent Diner And Customer Loyalty

Since the creation of restaurants, owners have always wanted and needed to know who their customers are and what they like to eat and drink. This information is vital to the ongoing success of a restaurant.

In addition to knowing their customers they sometimes gave away food or drinks in an attempt to buy favor with those customers. While this worked in most cases there were no controls in place to prevent abuse by employees nor were there any requirements other than the good mood of the owner.

Abuse of this method of rewarding customers was rampant. Employees would take advantage of this and give the same favors to their friends. This drove food and bar costs skyward, while making the employees rich through additional tips from their happy friends.

In an attempt to control this madness someone came up with punch cards and stamps. The abuse of the system slowed but was not stopped. How many of us have gotten an extra punch in our cards or extra stamps from a waiter in an attempt to get a better tip? This happens daily in restaurants with this system.

Then came the counterfeiters of these cards and stamps. Recently the Subway chain had to end their 20-year old Sub Club stamp program for this very reason.

The Need To Manage Frequent Diner And Customer Loyalty

The need is great.

As the business owner you need your point of sale system to provide accurate customer information on buying habits, number of visits, frequency of visits, entice repeat visits and purchases through reward programs. Do all this while managing the programs and preventing “sweet hearting" by employees.

No small task. Especially with the creative employees that so many restaurants employ.

The Solution For Managing Frequent Diner And Customer Loyalty

Some point of sale software comes standard with a frequent diner or customer loyalty package that does all these things and more.

Some Frequent Diner Module utilizes secure methods of tracking your guests and their buying habits. You establish a database of guest's information with an account number. This number can be their phone number or any number system you desire. However, the most popular and most secure method is through magnetic cards with your logo on them. These cards act as a constant reminder of your restaurant by having your logo in their wallet or purse.

These Frequent Diner Module will secure the reward programs you put in place and preventing the employees from giving away food. Rewards are giving only when earned through purchases, frequent visits or for items on your menu that you wish to highlight. The establishment of reward programs takes your employees out of the game and puts you in charge.

You may establish multiple reward programs and assign them to customers on an individual basis. Not every frequent diner has to belong to every program. You have the choice of which customers are involved in which programs.

Reward programs can be established to highlight a new item, feature a portion of your menu or encourage your customers to come back during a specific meal period. Programs can be created to reward customers after a specified number of visits or for how much they spend.

Rewards can be a % off, $ off, a specified item free, or other creative rewards. You have the option to have instant rewards or make the reward good on their next visit.

The Benefit Of Managing Frequent Diner And Customer Loyalty To You

Imagine being able to market directly to your customer base. Imagine having detail knowledge of their buying habits how often they came, when was their last visit, their anniversary and birthdays. With this information you could create marketing materials targeted at your customers and bring them back more often.

Imagine having the ability to establish reward programs to build meal periods that have been traditionally slow. If you need to build your lunch business, establish reward programs based around this meal period and then distribute your frequent diner magnetic cards to businesses and their employees in your area. Don't just sit back and wait on someone to walk in your door. Go out and get them!

Imagine having the ability to highlight low cost menu items and use them to reward customers.

In real dollars and profits the frequent diner module can generate huge results. Let's say you have a $10 ticket average per person with a 35% food cost. If you created a program that rewards a customer with a free appetizer every 5 visits. Appetizers have an average price of $4 and have the same 35% food cost.

If the person ate alone for those 5 visits you would have enjoyed $50 in sales and $32.50 in profits. Your customer has now earned a reward of a free appetizer on their next visit at a cost to you of only $2.60. This means that you have a net profit of $29.90 on sales that were increased through rewarding the customer for repeat visits. If this guest brought a date then your profits would have been $62.40 with a cost of the program of only $2.60! Imagine the rewards YOU will get for increased sales of your repeat customers.

About the Author

Jerry D. Wilson is Director of Internet Sales for DirecTouch Restaurant Point of Sale. With over 25 years of hospitality point of sale experience, he has written several articles explaining the benefits of touch screen and retail point of sale software. Please visit DirecTouch Do It Yourself Restaurant Point of Sale or DirectRetail Retail Do It Yourself Retail Point of Sale for more information.


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