Jess Shelcusky
Jess Shelcusky
Jess Shelcusky is a content marketing specialist at Paytronix working in the restaurant space. With an MBA from Boston College and a passion for telling stories, she helps produce new content to help businesses take their marketing to the next level.

Drive More Revenue With Subscriptions

Consider all of the conveniences that are available to modern consumers. They can wake up, make coffee with beans that were delivered in one day through Amazon Prime, shave with a razor from Dollar Shave Club, and get dressed in an outfit that was delivered in this month’s Stitch Fix box. As they ride to work in a prepaid Uber, they can browse articles on their phone courtesy of an online subscription to their favorite newspaper. After returning home, they can make dinner from a Blue Apron kit while listening to commercial-free music via a Spotify premium account, and then take a spin class as part of their ClassPass subscription.

As consumers, we’ve become used to subscription-based services in every aspect of our daily lives. The subscription business model has grown rapidly, increasing sales from $57 million in 2011 to $2.6 billion in 2016. Throughout the restaurant industry, several brands have successfully introduced subscription-based meals, with Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass being a prime example. A limited number of guests could spend $100 for an eight-week pass or $300 for a full year, entitling them to unlimited servings of pasta, soup, salad, and breadsticks.

Since customers are accustomed to paying for subscriptions, more restaurants are offering subscription-styled packages. While some emulate Olive Garden in requiring guests to pay a lump sum for unlimited benefits, others, such as HuHot Mongolian Grill, have given guests the option to buy meal passes in quantities of 5, 10, or 20. There has also been an emergence of third parties like MealPal, a service that allows customers in major metropolitan areas to buy 12 or 20 prepaid lunches and redeem them at any of its participating locations. 

Here are the three primary reasons why you should consider a subscription plan for your restaurant:

  • Repeat Customers: When guests purchase a package of prepaid meals, it guarantees return visits to your restaurant instead of the competition. Guests who buy their meals in advance are going to make sure their money doesn’t go to waste.
  • Sales: When you sell a 10-meal package, the profit is realized immediately rather than over the course of someone’s next several visits. When these guests return, they can often be enticed to buy add-on items because they tend to forget about the initial cost and will be spending very little on that day.
  • Loyalty: These multi-meal passes can be integrated with your restaurant loyalty program, letting guests continue to earn points and allowing you to gain valuable insights from changes in behavior.

Introducing a subscription meal plan is just one way to boost return visits and build strong relationships with your guests. For more information on making a subscription part of your restaurant’s strategy, check out our webinar,  How Restaurants Can Take Advantage of the Subscription Business Model”

3 Ways Restaurants Can Approach Offering More Vegan Options

Driven by the coming-of-age Gen Z, there are increasing numbers of diners who prefer dishes containing plant proteins at least some of the time. These flexitarians may no longer be satisfied with the old-standby vegetarian entrées like pasta or salads. To keep up with demand, restaurants from fast-casual to fine-dining are introducing more vegan-friendly options. Since customers can easily go online to scan menus and ratings, expanding your offer base to be inclusive of these various diets can help differentiate your restaurant from the ones above and below it in the search results.

But how can you know if your restaurant should change up the menu to introduce healthier and possibly vegetarian options? Test out these three easy ways to gauge whether your guests would appreciate more plant-based and healthy options (as opposed to having to modify existing items):

1) Offer complimentary tastings of potential new items. Select one of your locations and invite some of your best guests to form a focus group. In addition to making them feel special and that their opinions are valued, this will give you important feedback.

2) Deploy real-time surveys to guests purchasing new plant-based items on your menu. Your loyal guests are likely to provide their thoughts on areas that need improvement. By making every interaction with your guests meaningful, you can extract valuable information and use it to keep them coming back.

3) Reflect your excitement about potential new offerings on social media and through email blasts. Some of your lapsed and low-frequency guests may have reduced their visits because your menu didn’t fit their dietary preferences. If they’ve ordered vegetarian entrées in the past, let them know about your recent additions and give them an offer to sweeten the deal.

After receiving positive feedback that supports a menu change, you should educate your staff on the details and benefits of the new items. Consumers are increasingly concerned about their health and where their food is being sourced, so if you have an item that’s made with organic vegetables or locally sourced ingredients, make sure your staff can convey this powerful information to guests

To learn more about whether this trend is something your restaurant should embrace, check out the on-demand webinar, “The Rise of Healthy Dining Concepts: Should You Swipe Right?”

Create a Successful Catering Rewards Program

Whether catering is already an established part of your restaurant or a new addition, offering your catering customers a rewards program designed just for them is a great way to grow a loyal repeat customer base.  Restaurant catering is a $33 billion industry, so it makes sense that casual, fast casual, and quick-service restaurants are making catering loyalty programs a priority.

Why Catering Loyalty?

For restaurants that don’t already offer catering, launching a catering program provides a steady flow of sales.  It also provides excellent opportunities to reach new audiences and grow awareness of your brand among those who might experience your brand for the first time at a catered event. The average business spends $1,100 per month on catering, with average orders over $200.  Thirty percent of catering customers order weekly, and twenty percent of them order multiple times per week.

That steady flow of reliable large orders could be a huge boost to your sales. By gaining even one or two new catering customers per week, you can reduce the strain of trying to acquire over twenty individual new guests.  Pairing a top-notch experience with a rewards program specifically for your catering customers is a great way to grow loyalty and inspire repeat purchases.

Driving Loyalty Through Catering Rewards

The nature of catering makes it necessary for you to develop a separate rewards program for your catering business.  If you have a rewards program for individual orders where for every ten orders you get one free, applying that to catering might result in a free order worth hundreds of dollars, revenue you don’t want to miss out on. Here are a few ways you can use a catering rewards program to drive loyalty: […]