Monday, November 30, 2020

Is now a good time to start a customer loyalty program? Absolutely!

If you’re the owner or manager of a small, independent restaurant, now is absolutely the right time to start up a customer

loyalty program.  You’ll be showing your customers and employees that you’re committed to the future when there is lots of

uncertainty out there about potential restaurant closings as we enter our first COVID winter.

With a loyalty program, you’ll be rewarding current customers for their support versus the more expensive cost

of developing a strategy to attract new ones.  

We recently spoke with Nick Harron, owner of REV Kitchen & Bar in Beverly, MA, who opened his restaurant with a built-in loyalty program he acquired when he bought out his partner(s). 

The loyalty program definitely helped Nick retain customers as he transitioned the restaurant’s name and underwent

a major rebranding and menu redesign.

“We are in a suburban area, on a main thoroughfare, that has lots of restaurants with slow drive time, and limited rooftops. 

By giving back to our customers, we get better word of mouth support and are able to connect with our guest core” says Nick.  

Nick also did a really great job of pivoting his restaurant from mostly dine-in, to all takeout and delivery during the early

COVID months (even featuring items like toilet paper, masks and gloves at the bottom of their menu when local supplies

were hard to get).  Now that his customers can dine-in again, he continues to work with a company called TableUp

that handles his online reservations, ordering, seating, and, perhaps most importantly, loyalty.

Another company on the Northshore of Boston that does a fabulous job of customer loyalty marketing is The Serenitee Group of Gloucester.  They started with a single restaurant, Alchemy in 2003, followed soon

by Cala’s in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  Prior to COVID, they were operating 8 highly successful restaurants,

and in just the past 2 months, they’ve opened TAJ Gloucester (a take out-only and delivery Indian restaurant)

and Little Red Rooster (a take out-only and delivery fried chicken restaurant located in a repurposed, Serenitee-owned

bar and music venue).  

The Serenitee Group has managed to leverage their customer loyalty base to support the recent launching of these two

new restaurants.  Plus they do an amazing job of marketing that generates customer visits to specific restaurants,

featuring specific offerings, on specific days.

You can start small, or go large.  But however you do it, rewarding your regular customers makes smart business sense.

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