7 Proven Strategies to Boost Sign-ups for Your Restaurant Loyalty Program

The rise of mobile ordering has transformed the restaurant landscape, offering a win-win for both busy customers and restaurants with a vision to grow. By embracing this technology, restaurants can unlock a treasure trove of benefits: from streamlined operations and increased efficiency to enhanced customer satisfaction and a boost in sales.

You are not alone though. Many restaurants struggle to get customers to sign up, leaving a potentially powerful tool untapped. Here, let’s take a look at some data to backup this claim: 

  • 55% of consumers visit a restaurant more than twice in a month to earn rewards.
  • A Deloitte survey found that over 47% of restaurant loyalty members use their membership multiple times in a month with 32% using it multiple times in a week.
  • 41% of consumers say that with loyalty programs, they are encouraged to spend more in a restaurant. 

It’s understandable what a robust restaurant loyalty program can do for your business, especially in today’s competitive culinary landscape. Creating a standout dining experience isn’t just about serving delicious dishes – it’s about forging lasting connections with your customers.

Envision a scenario where diners are drawn to your establishment not only for the tantalizing meals but also for the irresistible perks and rewards they can’t help but rave about. This is the kind of buzz that a well-executed loyalty program can generate for your business.

So, if you are ready to power up your loyalty and rewards program, here are the 7 strategies to get you results.

7 Strategies to Increase Sign-ups for Your Restaurant Loyalty Program

So, now that you know what a successful loyalty program can do for your restaurant business, let’s help you understand how you can set it up. After all, a loyalty program is only as good as its participation rate, right? 

Here are top 7 strategies to elevate your loyalty program to the next level:

1. Offer a Compelling Sign-up Incentive

An average American visits a restaurant at least 5 times a week but only 1 out of 10 customers sign up for a loyalty program. This means that restaurants need to offer an extraordinary experience to get them to sign-up at the first interaction.

You can offer them an attractive incentive when they sign up for your loyalty program.

This could be a free appetizer or a discount on their next visit. You could offer a bonus tier jump in your program as a part of a limited-period joining bonus offer. Let your creative juices flow.

Imagine: they walk in for lunch, sign up for the program, and get a free slice of your signature dessert – that’s an instant win-win. And we all know that food is the biggest motivator [well, at least one of the biggest].

Why is it important?

A compelling sign-up incentive differentiates your restaurant and motivates customers to choose your loyalty program over others at the first interaction. By offering a mouthwatering incentive, you’re giving diners an immediate reason to join the club and keep returning for more delicious rewards.

It also serves as the initial engagement point with your restaurant’s loyalty program. By offering something of value upfront, you establish a positive association with your brand from the beginning.

And we all know how much we enjoy immediate rewards. Think about all the times we got a free side of fries or an upgrade from a-la-carte to meal for no extra cost, all because you agreed to sign-up for a loyalty program. Hence, a compelling incentive provides instant gratification, making customers feel valued and appreciated for joining the program.

Tips to Implement this Strategy

  • Offer Tangible Benefits: Provide incentives that are tangible and valuable to customers, such as a free appetizer, drink or sides or simply a discount on their next meal. The incentive should be enticing enough to prompt action.
  • Create a Sense of Urgency: Create urgency through a limited-time incentive like a free dessert to encourage sign-ups. For instance, “Sign up now and get a free dessert – offer ends soon!”
  • Balance Cost and Value: The incentive should be enticing but not break the bank. A free dessert or a percentage off on their first purchase can be very effective.
  • Highlight the Long-Term Benefits: While the sign-up bonus is the initial draw, don’t forget to showcase the ongoing rewards of your program alongside it. This can include a free meal after every 6th order or a 30% discount on every third purchase or something similar.

2. Simplify the Sign-up Process

Nobody likes filling out lengthy forms, especially when they are hungry and all they can think about is biting into their comfort food. So, keep it quick, easy, and hassle-free. 

Whether it’s an in-store sign-up with your staff, online registration through your website, or even a mobile app sign-up with social media integration, ensure joining your loyalty program is as effortless as savoring your signature dish. The easier it is to join, the faster your program grows.

Why is it important?

A lengthy or complicated sign-up process can discourage customers from participating. Imagine a hungry customer, eager to enjoy a delicious meal. They see your loyalty program advertised but are met with a lengthy registration form. Chances are, they’ll abandon the process altogether.

By streamlining the sign-up process, you remove barriers and make it more convenient for customers to opt into your loyalty program, ultimately increasing participation rates and fostering customer loyalty.

Tips to Implement this Strategy

  • Minimize Required Information: When collecting information, only ask for the essentials such as name, email, and optional phone number. Additional information can be gathered later.
  • Offer Multiple Sign-Up Options: Provide flexibility by allowing sign-ups through your website, mobile app (if applicable), in-store with staff assistance, or even via self-service kiosks.
  • Keep it Short and Sweet: Use clear, concise language and a single, well-designed form to capture necessary information.
  • Leverage Social Logins: Allow customers to sign up using existing social media accounts, eliminating the need to create a new login and password.
  • Mobile-Friendly Approach: Ensure your website or sign-up form is optimized for mobile devices. This caters to the growing trend of on-the-go sign-ups.

3. Merge the Loyalty Points with Credit Cards

Why not sweeten the deal by integrating your loyalty program with popular credit cards? Diners can earn points with every swipe, making it even more enticing to sign up and indulge in their favorite dishes while earning rewards simultaneously. No need for customer identification number or physical loyalty cards, just swipe and collect points. 

And here’s some compelling evidence to show why this strategy is a gold mine: 

Credit card users spend the most amount of money at restaurants as compared to any other form of payments. In fact, according to a study, credit card transactions in restaurants amounted to $29.8 billion, outweighing debit card spends which amounted to $25.3 billion in 2023.

Why is it important?

The importance of integrating loyalty points with credit card transactions ensures that customers automatically earn points every time they make a purchase at your restaurant. This eliminates any friction or potential barriers to participation, as points accrue effortlessly with each transaction. 

When customers see that they can earn rewards simply by using their credit card at your restaurant, it increases the perceived value of your loyalty program. It becomes a natural extension of their existing spending habits, making it more enticing to sign up and participate.

Tips to Implement this Strategy

  • Partner Wisely: Choose a credit card company that aligns with your target audience. Consider companies popular with your demographic or ones offering complementary rewards programs.
  • Highlight the Benefits: Don’t be shy! Promote the credit card integration heavily across your marketing channels. Emphasize the ease of earning and the combined value proposition for diners.
  • Offer Bonus Points: To incentivize the switch, consider offering bonus points for diners who link their credit cards during sign-up. This jumpstarts their point accumulation and creates a positive initial experience.
  • Seamless Integration: Ensure a smooth user experience. The credit card linking process should be quick and user-friendly to avoid frustrating potential members.
  • Transparency is Key: Clearly communicate the program details – points earned per dollar spent, any limitations, and redemption options. Transparency fosters trust and encourages participation.

4. Integrate The Loyalty Program With Your POS System and Self-service Kiosks

Technology is your friend. Integrate your loyalty program with your Point-of-Sale (POS) system and self-service kiosks. This feature enables automatic accumulation and redemption of points, eliminating the need for physical cards and code memorization.

A smooth, tech-driven experience keeps your customers happy and coming back for more.

Why is it important?

Integrating your loyalty program with your POS system and self-service kiosks eliminates the need for customers to carry physical loyalty cards or remember account numbers. They can easily earn and redeem rewards with every purchase or transaction, making the process effortless and hassle-free.

Additionally, customers can redeem their rewards directly at the POS terminal or self-service kiosk without needing assistance from staff. This reduces wait times and friction during the redemption process, encouraging more customers to participate in the loyalty program.

Also, you can track customer purchases in real-time and update their loyalty points or rewards balance instantly. This ensures accuracy and transparency, enhancing trust and satisfaction among your customers.

Tips to Implement this Strategy

  • Choose the Right Technology: Look for a POS system and loyalty program that offer smooth integration capabilities. This ensures data flows seamlessly and the user experience remains consistent.
  • Train Your Staff: Ensure your staff is comfortable using the integrated system. They should be able to answer customer questions about loyalty points and redemption options.
  • Promote the Integration: Let your customers know how easy it is to use your loyalty program! Highlight the fact that points are automatically tracked, eliminating the need for cards or codes.
  • Monitoring and Analysis: Monitor and analyze customer feedback and usage data to continuously optimize the integration and improve the overall customer experience.
Expert Tip!

Look for a digital ordering solutions provider that also offers rewards and loyalty as a feature. This will require you to make minimal changes into your existing POS system, self-service kiosks and other digital ordering channels.
When the provider offers rewards and loyalty programs as a feature, restaurants can easily integrate their existing systems with the new feature. In fact, all you will need to do is send the prompt to the provider for starting the rewards and loyalty program and the provider will take care of the rest. Now that’s what we call a seamless integration!

5. Promote Your Loyalty Program Across Channels

Spread the word far and wide! From social media shoutouts to eye-catching signage in your restaurant, make sure your loyalty program is front and center wherever your customers turn. 

Utilize the potential of digital marketing to connect with potential customers who are looking for food from anywhere. Highlight the program’s benefits and showcase happy customers enjoying their rewards. Make sure everyone knows about the delicious perks of being a loyal diner.

Why is it important?

Different customers engage with different channels. By promoting your loyalty program across various platforms, you have a better chance of reaching a diverse range of potential sign-ups. For example, younger demographics might be more active on social media platforms, while older demographics might respond better to traditional advertising methods. 

Also, promoting your loyalty program across multiple channels increases its visibility among a wider audience. Whether it’s through social media, email newsletters, your restaurant’s website, or in-store signage, being present across various channels ensures that customers are constantly reminded of the program’s benefits.

Tips to Implement this Strategy

  • Social Media Powerhouse: Leverage your restaurant’s social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and even Twitter. Post engaging content about the program’s benefits, highlight happy members, and run contests to generate excitement.
  • Email Allure: Harness the power of email marketing. Send targeted email blasts to your existing customer base, highlighting the program’s perks and offering exclusive sign-up bonuses through email.
  • Website Showcase: Dedicate a section of your restaurant’s website to the loyalty program. Clearly explain its benefits, how to sign up, and showcase rewards. To increase the visibility of your website and make it easier for potential customers to find it, it is important to optimize it for search engines.
  • In-Restaurant Visibility: Don’t neglect the power of traditional methods! Display information about your program through eye-catching table tents, posters, or even include a call to action on your menus. Train your staff to enthusiastically mention the program to diners.
  • Partner Power: Consider collaborating with local businesses or influencers to cross-promote your program. This can expose your program to a wider audience and increase sign-ups.

6. Provide Incentives for Sales Employees for Bringing in Maximum Sign-ups

Your staff is on the front lines, interacting with customers daily. Empower them to become loyalty program champions! Offer incentives, like commissions or bonuses. Whether it’s a bonus for every sign-up or friendly competition among staff members, empower your team to drive loyalty program sign-ups to new heights.

Why is it important?

When staff have a personal stake in the program’s success, they become enthusiastic advocates. They’ll naturally promote the program to diners, explaining its benefits and encouraging sign-ups. 

Incentivizing sales employees encourages them to actively promote the loyalty program to every customer they interact with. 

Remember, employees who are personally invested in the success of the loyalty program are more likely to educate customers about its benefits and encourage them to join. Higher levels of customer engagement and program participation are achieved as a result of this.

Tips to Implement this Strategy

  • Choose the Right Incentive: Cash bonuses are always a motivator, but consider offering additional options like extra paid time off, gift certificates, or even recognition on a “loyalty champion” board.
  • Set Clear and Achievable Goals: Employees need to understand what they need to do to earn rewards. Establish clear, attainable sign-up targets to keep them motivated.
  • Transparency is Key: Communicate the incentive program clearly to your staff. Explain the goals, rewards, and tracking system. Transparency fosters trust and encourages participation.
  • Recognize and Reward Consistently: Don’t wait until the end of the month to acknowledge top performers. Publicly recognize and reward staff who consistently bring in new members.
  • Make it Fun!: Incorporate a bit of fun into the program. Create friendly competitions or games with the incentive as the prize. This adds a lighthearted element and keeps staff engaged.

7. Leverage Social Proof

Nothing whets the appetite quite like a glowing recommendation. Showcase testimonials, reviews, and success stories from satisfied members of your loyalty program. Let prospective diners see firsthand the value and satisfaction that comes with being part of your culinary community.

Why is it important?

Positive experiences shared by existing members build trust and credibility for your program. New diners see real people benefiting and are more likely to believe the program’s value.

Occasionally, some customers may feel that joining a new program might be risky. Here, social proof mitigates that risk by showcasing happy customers who’ve taken the leap and reaped the rewards.

An Expert’s Insight: The Bandwagon Effect

People are naturally drawn to what’s popular. Seeing a high number of loyalty program members creates a sense of “everyone’s doing it” and encourages others to join the bandwagon.

You may also call it the FOMO effect, a.k.a. Fear of Missing Out.

Tips to Implement this Strategy

  • Showcase Testimonials: Feature positive testimonials from satisfied loyalty program members on your website and social media. Let their genuine enthusiasm shine through!
  • Highlight Social Media Reviews: Encourage customers to leave positive reviews on Yelp or Google. Showcase these reviews on your website to highlight customer satisfaction.
  • Run User-Generated Content Contests: Organize contests where members share photos or videos enjoying their loyalty program rewards. This creates user-generated content that promotes your program authentically.
  • Partner with Influencers: Collaborate with local social media influencers who resonate with your target audience. Having them endorse your program can significantly increase its visibility and credibility.
  • Show Off Program Engagement: Track and display impressive program statistics on your website or social media. For example, highlight the total number of rewards redeemed or happy members.

3 Bonus Strategies to Increase Sign-ups for Your Loyalty Program

1. Provide Mobile Ordering Solutions

Offering mobile ordering solutions integrated with your loyalty program caters to the preferences of modern consumers who value ease and efficiency. Mobile ordering allows customers to place orders and earn loyalty points directly from their smartphones, whether they’re dining in or opting for takeout or delivery. 

This seamless integration not only enhances the overall customer experience but also incentivizes sign-ups for your loyalty program as customers see the added value of earning rewards with every order.

In fact, mobile ordering solutions can be a game changer as millennials are 14 times more likely to utilize loyalty programs through their smartphones compared to accessing them from a computer.

2. Engage Customers with Personalization

Personalization is a powerful tool for driving customer loyalty. As per an industry report, 71% of Millennials and 63% of Gen Z are open to providing their personal information to restaurants in return for more personalized or frequent offers.

This is due to the power of data collection and predictive analytics. By leveraging data collected through your loyalty program, such as purchase history, preferences, and demographic information, you can tailor marketing communications and rewards to individual customers. 

Personalized interactions, such as custom recommendations, birthday rewards, and exclusive offers based on past behavior, can make customers feel more valued and appreciated. This can increase the likelihood of customers signing up for your loyalty program and remaining loyal in the long run.

3. Encourage Referrals

Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly effective, and incentivizing referrals can be a game-changer for increasing sign-ups to your loyalty program. Encourage existing members to refer friends, family, and colleagues by offering rewards or bonuses for successful sign-ups. 

Whether it’s extra points, discounts, or exclusive perks for both the referrer and the new member, this strategy not only expands your customer base but also reinforces the sense of community and camaraderie within your loyalty program.

Referrals play a big role in boosting sign-ups because 47% of loyal customers actively spread positive word of mouth and encourage friends and family members to sign up.

Wrapping Up!

There you have it – a seven-course feast of strategies to elevate your restaurant’s loyalty program to new heights. By offering compelling incentives, simplifying the sign-up process, and leveraging the power of integration and promotion, you’ll have diners flocking to join your culinary club in no time.

And if you are looking for a complete solution that takes care of your rewards and loyalty programs whilst streamlining your digital ordering process, then EZ-Chow is your one-true friend. 

With EZ-Chow’s rewards and loyalty program integrated to all your digital ordering solutions, you can elevate the sign-up process and welcome customers on-board with just a couple of clicks. Intrigued? Book a demo with us to witness our rewards and loyalty program features today!

EZ-Chow has solutions such as an Online Ordering, Self-Ordering Kiosks and Rewards/Loyalty Solutions that integrate into your existing POS systems. To learn how EZ-Chow can help you with these initiatives and more, get started by contacting us here.

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Bernie Fussenegger
Bernie Fussenegger
Marketing,Branding & e-Commerce -Consultant
Click to learn more about Bernie Fussenegger

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