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Marketing 360® Blog

5 Restaurant Marketing Loyalty Programs That Turn Customers Into Regulars

Post By Scott Yoder | Payments and POS

An effective loyalty program turns new customers into regulars. Repeat diners have a much higher rate of return than new ones, they spend more per visit and will spread the word about your restaurant. Once you have a loyalty program set up in your point of sale system and CRM, you’ll need to decide how to promote the program and what you’ll be offering to your members that is of value.

Your POS will track information that makes it easy to engage your customers automatically and the service you provide when they visit will keep them coming back. Remember that loyalty is not about pricing, so avoid discounts and make sure that your offers are in line with your brand. Here are five promos that reward customers and encourage them to keep returning.


VIP Events

Special events where your members have exclusive access sends the message that your restaurant is popular and that your members are part of a group of people who get top priority. For example, set up a keg tapping with a local brewery’s beer and give your members early access for the first hour of the evening or bring in a guest celebrity chef and offer your members early access to reservations.  The key is to also make the event a celebration.


Birthday Cards

Offering a special like 2 for 1 entrees on someone’s birthday is one of the most effective restaurant loyalty programs you can run.  Making this offer is also a great way to build your email and text message lists (since you’ll send the offer to them electronically).  When you have that contact information, you can send out other periodic offers.

Use CRM software to organize your customer list and keep track of people’s birthdays.  You can largely automate this so your offer goes out when someone’s birthday is coming up.


Bounceback Offers

This type of promo involves printing an offer on customers’ receipts that is redeemable if returned within a short window of time, like the next 48 hours. Your point of sale system can be used to manage these offers, which are often effective for QSR establishments.



Customers love the little perks that enhance their experience. Offering a special house aperitif, tasting of an appetizer or sweets to your members as a freebie sets a mood that they are appreciated.  The interesting thing is that when you give someone a free taster, the reciprocity principle kicks in and they’ll likely end up leaving with a bigger overall tab.


Social Media

Social media marketing, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, are a natural for restaurants and one of the easiest ways to stay connected with regulars.  Most people who like your restaurant and have plans to return often will be happy to follow you on social media.

To motivate people to come in, you can put promotions and events into posts like this pizza restaurant does on Instagram:

restaurant instagram

Photographing and posting food photos is popular with diners and is free marketing for you. Install an Instagram plugin on your website that will automatically post any photos that are tagged with your restaurant’s hashtag and suddenly your guests are creating buzz for you. Make sure hashtags and restaurant handles are displayed on tabletop tents and menus to make them easy to share. If you add a contest aspect where you reward customers for the best weekly post, then people will want to get in the game. Promote the contest to your loyalty program members instead of pushing it on customers when they come in.