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Customer loyalty

How to Encourage Loyalty

From enhanced menu descriptions to exciting specials, read how to increase customer loyalty. Sponsored by Hellmann’s® and Best Foods® Mayonnaise. Make more of your burger and sandwich business - visit Sandwich Solutions on Restaurant Hospitality.

Every operation strives for return visits. Luckily, there are many ways to create loyalty, and operators who offer their guests more than just a meal are likely to see the same happy faces returning again and again. Loyalty begins with the first visit, and it is reinforced with every aspect of the guest experience—from the service, to the first bite, to the atmosphere of the operation itself. Scoring points in these areas will help you win a customer’s loyalty and gain repeat business. Follow the tips below for ideas on how to make it happen:

Offer A Rewards Program

  • This can increase visits by as much as 35 percent1
  • Four out of five consumers prefer a rewards program that offers points for rewards over a program built on periodic rewards or surprises1
  • 80% of consumers said they’d visit a restaurant more often if the restaurant offered a rewards program1
  • Only 44% of diners are aware of restaurant loyalty programs1
  • 96% of consumers have visited a restaurant that they have a loyalty card to within the last six months1
  • Offer a digital rewards program and a card option for customers who don’t like to be tracked
  • Customers appreciate when operators recognize loyalty
  • Consider using social media to ask customers what kind of rewards they’d like

Use Social Media

  • Offer special rewards for check-ins or likes on Facebook
  • Share new menu items and ask customers if they’d like to see any old items make a renewed appearance; this can help create a quick boost in sales
  • Promote limited-time offers on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
  • Try out a new menu item for a short period of time to gauge customer interest; get feedback on

Facebook and Twitter

  • Ask customers to choose between LTOs they’d like to see, or ask for suggestions on what they think would be a good fit for your menu
  • 13% of consumers who have dined out within the past month and use social media have posted a food or drink picture to social media2—so give them a place to do it and a hashtag to use
  • Go beyond posts like “eat here today”: Ask customers questions about dishes they like and give them inside information like chef how-tos
  • Get involved with the local food conversation. Follow and respond to hashtags on twitter, and post photos of where your food comes from
  • Post high-quality images, as customers will be more willing to share those with their friends
  • Try posting videos of your back-of-house to gain interest and give customers a glimpse into your operation

Keep Your Menu Interesting

  • Daily or weekly specials add excitement
  • Add seasonal ingredients that can be used in limited-time offers
    - Fall: acorn squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, cauliflower, ginger, grapes, mushrooms, pomegranates, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, turnips
    - Winter: chestnuts, dates, grapefruit, kale, leeks, mandarin oranges, tangerines, turnips
    - Spring: apricots, asparagus, chives, corn, honeydew, limes, peas, pineapple, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries
    - Summer: beets, bell peppers, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, green beans, edamame, peaches, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini
  • Create a sense of urgency by offering limited-time offers or describing menu items as “made fresh daily”

Design Your Menu

  • By making simple changes, you can increase your profits by up to 15 percent1
  • Use graphics to highlight a pricier menu item
  • Use boxes, photos or asterisks to increase the sale of an item by as much as 30 percent1

Write Appealing Menu Descriptions

  • A good description can help distinguish menu items
  • Higher-end menu items should feature longer descriptions
  • Mention brand name ingredients to enhance perception of quality or use well-known logos to show customers you’re using the brands they prefer
  • Use menu “enhancers” to help increase appeal
    - Try pairing liver with applewood smoked bacon
    - Pair bacon with avocados
    - Offer baked sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries in addition to your regular offerings  
  • Use vivid descriptions to increase customer satisfaction
    - Use regional words like “Maine lobster” instead of “lobster”
    - Use descriptive words like “fruity salsa” instead of “salsa”
    - Use words that invoke freshness like “artisan sourdough bread” instead of “sourdough bread”

By implementing simple changes to your menu and encouraging loyalty through rewards programs or special offers, you’re giving customers an added sense of value. You’re also letting them know that you appreciate their repeat business. When you encourage customers to branch out by adding vivid descriptions or photos, you’re also increasing your average check price. And when they see that you’re engaging them beyond just serving them a meal, they’ll be more inclined to come back.

1 Technomic, Loyal Followings at Fast-Casual Restaurants, March 2013
2 Mintel, 29 Million Americans Have Posted a Food or Drink Picture at a Restaurant,
June 2014


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