Here’s an interesting concept from the US – One we’re sure could work here in New Zealand. All it needs is a simple way to build up your list of recipients through our own personalised direct mailers, smart email and purl marketing toolsets.
Sales are up 24%!
“Customers keep coming back. Nobody eats birthday dinner by themselves…
They’re often coming in with 4 or 5 other people. You can’t argue with those results… they’re absolutely amazing!"
Lori Ann Source,Owner, Pomodoro’s Restaurant"
First, start a Birthday Program
Background story from the US – Collecting birth dates is the first simple step to a building a full loyalty program. It’s all about getting to know your customers better.
Why? Restaurants DO fit the bill – high-frequency patronage, pre-bookings and stiff competition, characteristics shared with hotels and airlines, sectors that already have advanced online booking, retention and loyalty programs.
For the Fifth Group Restaurants of Atlanta, for example, members spend 17% more than before they joined the program. Spectrum Foods’ Table One program in San Francisco increased average sales among their 15 restaurants by 10%. And The Palm’s 837 Club is garnering a terrific return on investment.
Fix the leak!
The average restaurant loses 10-20 leads per week as the result of poor client loyalty, together with poor marketing, enquiry and online booking processes. At an estimated $100 per customer sale ($200 for birthdays), the potential loss easily exceeds a $1,000 a week for small operators and much more for larger restaurants.
Customers want to be remembered – In a quantitative study by the National Restaurant Association, 50% of table-service customers said they’d be more likely to patronize a restaurant that had a loyalty or birthday program.
So, why are restaurants missing out?
An illustrative story is told by Brian Lambert, loyalty programs manager at Rock Bottom Restaurants in Louisville. Fishbowls it seems are a big thing. You go in and drop your business card in the fishbowl. Usually the restaurant manager goes in there, gives away the free lunch, and then throws the rest of the cards away. For restaurants, names are perishable. Reservations are recorded on paper, then thrown away. Customers are forgotten.
Yet hotels and airlines have had to capture names, because the reservations were dynamic; travel plans would change. And millions of people were calling weeks or months in advance. The information had to be saved. To track this meant it was essential to have a place to store all these names and contact information electronically. Hence, databases. And to feed the databases, computerized reservation systems.
Yikes – Databases?
Yes. Fortunately setting up a modern, computerised reservation system is now far easier and very affordable. They do what the old point-of-sale (POS) systems do not. They focus more on sales and the customer.
New generation web based reservation systems are finally emerging. Now recording, managing and tracking customer reservations is really simple. And because it’s done online, it can be accessed and updated anywhere, anytime. No special software needed. Just a PC with web access.
Best of all, we can use all that collected customer data to launch slick loyalty programs as well as personalised postcards and email marketing campaigns too. It can even be linked into your website to capture online bookings automatically.
Unlike clunky desktop solutions, such systems also encourage mass bookings for private events, large groups etc. It could even allow regular business clients to securely login and plan their own dates, see menus, costs and then book online.
Much more professional. More Profitable…