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Online loyalty programs

If the 80/20 rule is in effect for your restaurant, then you are looking for ways to maximize the 20 percent of your customers that drive 80 percent of your business. Frequent diner and loyalty programs are smart ways to reward repeat customers and give less frequent visitors a reason to come back more often. But fumbling around for paper cards and stamps or hole punchers is so last decade. When you move to a digital solution, you can build up a database for email marketing, track preferences and recognize patrons for birthdays and other special events. Your loyalty program becomes a pillar of your marketing campaign.

Get to the points

LoyaltySoft’s (loyaltysoft.com) Web-based loyalty club program updates the frequent buyer card concept by making it accessible online for both the restaurateur and the customer. You decide what points can be redeemed for—whether it’s coupons or free food. Points can be given out on cards or through email or text messaging. Customers manage their accounts online to keep track of their points, view rewards and update their contact information. Appealing options for restaurant owners include keeping track of birthdays and special requests, viewing demographic information and having the opportunity to send personalized marketing messages. Plans start at $29 per month with a free trial run to give it a spin.

Social loyalty

Sundrop Systems’ (sundropsystems.com) loyalTXT puts a twist on the loyalty program by using customers’ mobile phone numbers or email addresses as their loyalty program identifications. While text messaging is the basis of the service, a new Facebook component turns loyalTXT into a social Web tool. Registrations can be activated on Facebook and reward notices can be posted directly to a member’s Facebook page. This is designed to reach new loyalty program members who see a restaurant’s rewards updates on their friend’s profile.

Givex your all

A main feature of the Givex (givex.com) Loyalty Program is the secure online administration. That makes it easy to implement the program across multiple restaurant locations. Those familiar plastic cards act as the basis for recognizing repeat customers. Loyalty cardholders can manage their accounts online at a Web site that is customized to match your brand. Points can be set to automatically convert to money on the card or into other types of rewards.

Guestbridge the gap

An online loyalty program solution may be as close as a software company you already use. Recently acquired by OpenTable, the GuestBridge (guestbridge.com) guest management system is available with an online module. The module includes a frequent diner program that comes bundled alongside an online reservation and wait listing system. An integrated email campaign wizard puts a bow on the package.

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