The advent of restaurant technology such as GrubHub and DoorDash, coupled with the ever-growing work-from-anywhere trends, has ushered in a new, 21st-century kind of restaurant: The Ghost Kitchen. With no brick-and-mortar location for your customers to discover as they go about their day, how can ghost kitchens boost consumer engagement and elevate customer satisfaction to new heights?
Easy. With restaurant loyalty programs.
It's a great chance to learn about your customers by having them opt-in to a loyalty program.
We've all experienced dining in a new or favorite restaurant, and the cashier or wait staff handed us a punch card. Or asked us to fill out a survey and get ten percent off our next meal. But how many follow through with those offers?
Per a Software Advice report, restaurants can expect to see 80 percent of their business from a loyal 20 percent customer base. Another study indicated over thirty percent of customers appreciate loyalty programs, upping their return visits, and a whopping 73 percent would recommend the restaurant if incentivized.
So, yes, loyalty programs work. But it goes beyond handing out stamp cards and waiting for consumers to store up loyalty points — the programs must be implemented correctly and consistently to see return customers and an increase in your ghost kitchen's bottom line.
Big brands like McDonald's and Starbucks use loyalty programs to their advantage... and your kitchen can, too. Choosing a loyalty program to implement should be easier than designing your menu, though. Here are a few different programs to consider for your first — or revamped — loyalty program attempt:
Digital Reward Points. With the right software on board, you can allow your customers to amass points with purchases and referrals and tempt them to try your newest dish.
Discounts on Purchases. You can choose to give a percentage off once a customer spends a set dollar limit, or you can give discounts on specific dishes or online ordering incentives.
Referral program. Let your loyal customers do the footwork and bring in the masses by word of mouth — or by text, or social media campaigns. Referrals can be rewarded with points, discounts, or a free meal.
Digital Stamp Cards. Save money by utilizing free email for digital stamp cards. Customers can track their points easily from their phones or desktops, and these stamp cards won't get washed in the laundry.
First Order Discount. Allow existing patrons to bring their friends on board with your brand for meal discounts on their first order.
Once you've decided on a specific type of reward system for loyal customers, it's time to implement the program. Here are a few tips to bring your ghost kitchen's loyalty program to life and skyrocket consumer engagement.
Keep It Simple. Too many stamp cards and paper vouchers for meal discounts will not be cashed in and are cumbersome for patrons. Also, focus on one style from the above list at a time. Trying to promote too many different incentives at once may confuse customers and make it hard for you to tell what type of incentive works the best.
Optimize, then Optimize Again. Make it easy for your customers to cash in on your loyalty program by optimizing for mobile devices (most folks don't lose their phones as often as they do restaurant stamp cards). Desktop optimization will appeal to those working from the office or from home. A clean, clear interface is key.
Be Personal. Asking your customers to opt in to your loyalty program does two things: It gives you a point of contact to get to know them better through surveys and ordering habits. It also lets you connect with them through newsletters and emails, giving them a glimpse into your ghost kitchen's story and successes.
Stay on Brand. What sets you apart from other restaurant services in your area? Let your strengths shine through in your loyalty program and take your ghost kitchen's virtual branding to new levels.
Patience Is a Virtue. It takes time to see your bottom line increase after implementing a loyalty program. Rest assured that if you're focused on customer satisfaction, word of mouth and word of your incentives will eventually take off.
Switch It Up. If you see a decline in the responsiveness to your loyalty program type (and you've been patient to see that your initial attempt has had time to take root), it may be time to launch a new style of reward.
Prepare for Growth. As word spreads about your foodservice business, be prepared to up your loyalty rewards for the most loyal of customers, and be sure to have the restaurant technology in place to handle the growth.
Ghost kitchens must have a clear online presence to succeed, and so their loyalty programs should be just as visible. Implement a reward program for your business and watch those first customers turn into satisfied return customers eager to share your brand with the world.