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What’s your loyalty program of choice?

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Restaurants — tracks feedback from restaurant owners and managers about current trends and issues.

Last week’s poll question: How do you reward your customers?

  • We offer coupons and discounts — 52.01%
  • My restaurant offers good customers choice seating and the occasional free appetizer or dessert — 17.35%
  • Our most loyal customers get to meet the chef and take kitchen tours — 3.12%
  • We don’t actively reward our customers — 24.49%

More than 50% of the respondents in this Restaurant SmartBrief poll said that they offer coupons and discounts to their diners. On the flip side, almost a quarter of respondents reported not offering any loyalty recognition. Here is a roundup of loyalty trends and tips, including backfiring customer-rewards programs and success stories.

  • The Wall Street Journal profiles restaurants who are steering away from coupons and offering experiences. T.G.I. Friday’s gives loyal customers an opportunity to preview upcoming menu items and customers in the “My Starbucks Rewards” program are eligible for birthday coupons, free syrup and even VIP concert passes.
  • Some Ohio restaurants offer perks to military customers. On Mondays, Abuelo’s gives 10% off to those with military IDs. One Qdoba franchisee offers free drinks on Mondays to those associated with the military.
  • 5 loyalty best practices from Restaurant News Resource. Tips include giving your diners a reason to be loyal, training your employees to embrace loyalty programs and clearly disclosing all details of offered rewards.
  • The economy forced many chain restaurants to discount, The New York Times reports, resulting in mixed reactions from restaurant execs and owners. Last April, George Green explained the drawbacks to long-term discounts in QSR Magazine.
  • A blog post on Kommein offers tips on how you can use Foursquare promotions to reward your customers.
  • Last but not least, an older story but a relevant cautionary tale: Several years ago Subway was forced to phase out its Sub Club rewards program due to fraud.

Do you plan to ease up on your rewards offerings when the economy improves more?