7 Ideas for Successful Restaurant Loyalty Programs

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New customers are like fresh air for a business. However, most successful restaurants aim to sustain their existing customer base rather than entice new ones.

After all, old customers are the immunity of your business, which will keep it healthy forever. According to some studies, over 65% of a company’s business comes from its existing customers.

But the problem is, retaining customers is one of the hardest marketing sciences!

Well, it can be difficult but not impossible to crack.

The Internet is loaded with an abundance of tips and tricks, but eventually the strategy that never disappoints brands are the restaurant loyalty programs ideas.

A report by Accenture has apparently confirmed that 90% of the companies in the U.S. are running some sort of loyalty program. It means there is hardly any typical retailer in the US still unaware of its benefits.

But are people liking the loyalty program or simply ignoring it?

Well, a recent survey by Oracle has found that over 72% of U.S. adults are active members of at least one loyalty program. However, it is just a known figure.

Even more customers are excited to become lifelong customers of a restaurant if the loyalty program has something interesting to offer. So now the question is:

  • How do you make loyalty programs successful?
  • What is the best technique to make customers loyal to your business?

Read on, because this article carries some interesting ideas for your success.

What is a loyalty program exactly?

Loyalty programs are a popular business strategy in which companies reward customers for being loyal.

The reward can be in the form of a temporary discount, limited offers, bumper prizes, jackpots, or free gifts. However, the reward is mostly given to loyal customers or repeat customers only.

The main objective of a loyalty program is to encourage repeat purchases with a company and prevent customers from switching to another brand or restaurant.

But it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

A wrongly implemented loyalty program won’t just lead to a fast turnover of customers, but it may even result in an unnecessary burden on businesses.

Concerning this, to ensure you don’t run into any unfortunate situations, this article outlines some of the best restaurant loyalty program ideas to make every action favourable to your business.

Without further ado, jumping straight to the main topic

The 7 Best Ideas for Successful Restaurant Loyalty Programs
1. Start with a Loyalty App

According to a study, over 70%–80% of a company’s customers are snatched up by competitors when they don’t have a well-established online portfolio.

And better than an application, there’s no other great tool to do it now.

If you don’t have a well-established digital platform that can be trusted, you must begin investing in your own app.

An application is an excellent platform to keep customers loyal to your brand and business. Indeed, it is even a powerful tracking tool for determining whether they are genuinely loyal or not.

A single app can serve some extraordinary benefits for your loyalty program, and here’s a quick recap of those:

Better Market Research

Other sources can’t do what restaurant apps can, and they can do it within seconds. The in-built data-tracking tools in these apps keep an eye on the real-time activities of the customers using your business applications.

It then hoards up the data and represents it in an understandable form that can be reviewed and analyzed visually and mathematically too.

How many customers are using the app, for what duration, what items they love most on the app, and how many of them are responding to the loyalty program?

All such things come to light through the robust data analysis performed by the mobile applications.


It has been seen that most restaurants launch some truly amazing loyalty programs, but they still fail to work for the brand.

Well, it mostly happens when the news doesn’t reach the customers on time. But thanks to the automated notification systems in restaurant mobile apps, it makes people aware of your program as soon as it is launched.

Simply put, if a user has installed your restaurant’s app on their smartphones, you will have the option to notify them about this through in-app notifications or mobile notifications.

You simply need to enable this feature, and the mobile application will deliver your message to the customers on its own.

Personalized Marketing

Applications even provide the unique benefit of personalized marketing. Whether you are launching offers, offering discounts on food items, or offering special jackpot prizes with your menu cards, you can highlight them on your app.

You can also put a special discount offer with every menu for the order purchased online. If you aren’t receiving the desired installs on your app or existing customers aren’t using it, rewards in the loyalty program might encourage them to do 

2. Integrate loyalty programs with POS systems

Integrating loyalty programs with POS systems is a powerful way to get things right. A Point of Sale (POS) system is basically a tech-enabled platform, mostly mounted at the reception area of restaurants to manage sales, customer experience, promotional offers, and operational processes.

With so much helpfulness, it’s worthwhile to integrate loyalty programs with POS systems. Indeed, it is an excellent technique to encourage repeat customers to do business with you.

Here are the five good reasons why it’s a great deal:

Smarter marketing

The primary reason is smart marketing. POS systems make it certain that restaurant operators access the right data. This is to ensure that loyalty programs and rewards could be matched with the sales a business was receiving in real-time.

It mitigates hassles by offering discounts and rewards on special menu items. The machine eliminates manual tasks by managing discounts and product offers itself.

The calculation is done by the machinery. The executive only needs to insert the inputs and let the POS do the whole work itself.

Multichannel use

POS systems are also popular for their multichannel uses. Especially when it is integrated with mobile applications and loyalty programs, multiple activities can be done quickly.

As such, you can notice the total rewards a customer has earned in their lifetime at your restaurant, whether they shop mostly online or mostly offline.

What additional offer is available for them, whether or not they are eligible for the loyalty program? Restaurant POS integration makes it clear for you.

More meaningful data

POS systems are also helpful for drawing meaningful data from the business. Following which, you can determine the loyalty programs customers are joining the most.

Is the program genuinely profitable, or has it become a source of business losses?

The system promotes a precise forecasting of the data and makes all things possible that are normally deemed impossible to do with manual operations.

3. Receipts are the silent promoter.

It is even more interesting to see how receipts are being actively used as a promotional tool by brands. It is a silent promoter of your business, and hardly anyone will note it.

As you know, there’s so much space on these receipts that you can use it as a place to promote your content, your products, and even your loyalty programs.

And it is impossible for a customer to ignore it because the receipt is the only thing that they will be viewing after purchasing. Also, it is deemed a professional way to promote products directly to the customers, which is unlike cold-calling.

Among all good restaurant loyalty program ideas, you must keep this one in your diary because it makes sense when you want to be promotional about your business without messing up its reputation.

You can also use these receipts for cross-channel marketing to promote the other businesses you operate alongside your restaurant. It is best if the side business is also relevant to the niche.

4. Keep it digital!

As much as possible, you should work digitally rather than physically or manually. After all, you can’t share door-to-door pamphlets about your restaurant and the exciting things you are offering in the loyalty programs.

Those conventional methods are time-consuming and costly, too. That’s why you should endeavour to keep your loyalty programs running digitally.

Not just is it the fastest medium to make people aware of your exciting offers and rewards to loyal customers, but it is even helpful in getting the task involved precisely done by yourself.

Such as, if you are launching jackpots for some of your loyal customers and the name will be selected randomly on a specific date, you can share each relevant update with everyone excited for it.

It is the best method to create hype and make your brand popular locally.

5. Reward your customer every time.

If you can’t take the risk of losing your customer at any cost, keep providing them with rewards and offers. Most times, customers visit your restaurant with only one expectation: that they will get to eat something good.

It is obvious that they will be impressed if the food is awesome. But it will double-impress them if you carry something special alongside the menu item.

You can offer a free dessert or special discounts on their next visit to your restaurant. However, it is up to you whether you want to keep this offer limited to only special customers or accessible to everyone.

It is worthwhile to make a loyalty program available to both old and new customers to ensure your business can keep flourishing without interruption.

6. Inject Some Fun Into Programs

Some restaurants cater only to high-profile customers who don’t care about discounts. Hence, making them loyal through rewards and offers is tough.

But instead of rewards, you can give them a sense of pleasure through your loyalty programs. You can do some entertaining stuff for them that makes their day or become the reason for a smile on their face.

Loyalty programs aren’t about rewarding your loyal customers with some money or other financial benefits. Instead, it is a way that you care about your customer and want them to keep coming to your shop like a family member.

7.  “Refer a Friend” Program

Referral marketing is one of the most prominent ways to channelize your business network and become popular among locals overnight.

Especially if you combine the referral program with loyalty events, you can access an abundance of sales and conversions. Such as, you can ask your early customers to share your menu items online with their family and friends and receive some exciting rewards.

If the rewards can get them a great discount on the second meal, or if the rewards can get them a free dessert or lifetime rewards for bringing more sales into the business, they will never refuse but end up doing it.

Does the restaurant loyalty program work?

Of course, they work. Loyalty programs are powerful enough that some decades-old businesses are still surviving despite stiff competition in the market.

Given that, loyalty programs are gaining traction across modern restaurants as well. Some studies reveal that over 84% of customers were convinced to stay with restaurants that were offering rewards, discounts, and exciting offers—more frequently than any other.

That’s why you should also aim to run successful restaurant loyalty programs because they work and we have tons of great studies to prove that.

But in case you are still scouting for some convincing points about whether or not you should pursue it, the list of benefits discussed ahead might keep things sorted for you.

So take a look to get a detailed overview of the benefits of loyalty programs and what they can do for you.

Breaking Down the Benefits of Customer Loyalty Programs for Restaurants
Improve customer engagement

Customer engagement is a crucial factor in forecasting positive outcomes for a business. But it can directly affect your brand’s sustainability if you are still doing nothing to enhance it. Brands are using loyalty programs to make their restaurants engaging and retain customers, particularly over the long term.

A restaurant that doesn’t resonate with its existing customer base and doesn’t care about their happiness struggles to establish a solid brand reputation and may also have low recall value. But a loyalty program is an excellent way to show your gratitude to customers and tell them how much they matter to your business.

It will provide them with a sense of achievement or pride as they become participants in a brand’s loyalty program. Given that, your new customers will also be interested in joining your restaurant. The program itself guarantees total customer involvement and aids in fostering a strong relationship with customers.

Improves customer retention

According to a survey, 84% of consumers say they are more likely to become a repeat customer for a brand that offers a loyalty program. Similarly, another survey reveals that 66% of consumers say that the opportunity to earn rewards can alter their spending decisions.

It means they are prepared to stick with a restaurant if its loyalty programs are rewarding and more personalized for them. Loyalty programs can greatly influence customer retention rates. And owing to this significant benefit, most brands and international firms consider them.

A retained customer is a valuable asset to any brand. Compared to new customers, they generate more revenue as they are likely to purchase more from the restaurant because they have trusted them for a long time. They are even more likely to recommend the brand to others, exhibiting authentic brand loyalty.

Boost revenue and sales

A mere 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by 25% to 95%, respectively. The impressive data revealed through the research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company is now giving us an idea of the vast potential a loyalty program can carry.

It’s also worth noting that customer acquisition costs are generally higher than customer retention costs.

Similarly, it makes it certain that you should use restaurant loyalty program ideas. By launching a loyalty program, you won’t just be retaining customers; you’ll also increase profits in your business. But to keep it at a lower cost, try to be a bit good at math to ensure the task aids an increase in profits only and not losses.

Reduction in Attrition Rate

Customer attrition is an issue that many brands across industries deal with. Loyalty programs aid in addressing this serious problem sooner before it’s too late. The attrition rate significantly decreases as soon as loyalty programs are launched to increase customer engagement.

But instead of just giving them rewards and incentives, restaurants should also endeavour to launch events and make entertaining offers that keep customers sticking with the brand.

Most customers don’t want freebies or discounts; they only want to be valued and respected. That’s something you must include in your loyalty program. However, it is up to your creativity that you will be doing it.

Aid in Customer Acquisition

Marketers or promoters of the company often persuade potential customers and recommend the company’s products and services. But it sometimes turns out to be an unethical and unprofessional way to bring in customers. A loyalty program that provides excellent rewards helps promote brand awareness and greatly expand the customer base. No matter how successful it is, a business deploys some great initiatives aiming to attract new customers.

It’s good if your existing customers are promising a strong hold of your business in the market. But without a new customer base, the scalability of a business can decline. Companies advertise and conduct other promotional activities to attract new customers for a variety of reasons. But if they do a bit of marketing for their loyalty program, it will lead to expanding market coverage for its products.

Improve brand reputation

You can enhance the reputation of your brand by designing a customer loyalty program that, without affecting your profitability, offers customers excellent discounts and rewards they are attracted to.

You can particularly target consumers who are often looking to cut costs. But make sure you don’t forget to show off how much you appreciate their response. Customers feel more positively toward a brand if they believe that it is offering them great value.

As a part of a loyalty program, you can create a special food menu for family on birthdays or special events. It will be the cherry on top if you are genuinely bringing them this offer on their birthday because somehow you had collected their date of birth as well.

Get ahead of competitors

You can readily beat the competition once your customers believe that they will not be making any mistakes by choosing your brand over another one. It can be because of your loyalty program, which helps them save money, or because you impress them through special offers provided by your restaurant. It is possible that not so many restaurants are giving attention to these exciting things that are actively scouted by customers. Consequently, it can give your business an edge over the competition.


No matter how hard you try or how best you make an effort to make successful restaurant loyalty programs, if you can’t spread their news like wildfire, they may generate little to no results. Therefore, you should consider investing in your platform first. Have a custom-built application because it is the best source to get your loyalty programs up and running. But the problem is, it can cost anything from $8000 to $25,000 or more if you are planning to own an application for your restaurant business. 

But to make sure that your loyalty program isn’t halted midway due to rising business expenses, you can use the online ordering system by App2Food. The platform is a great alternative to custom-built mobile applications that serve personalized branding benefits. If you want to run a short-term loyalty program, the online ordering system will never disappoint you.