Developing a relationship with a restaurant brand isn’t always about the food or the service. Sometimes, the values and persona a restaurant puts forth is enough to keep customers fiercely loyal. That effect is why coupling promotions (or your entire business model) to charitable donations can significantly improve customer loyalty.
According to a 2017 study by Accenture, 37% of consumers show loyalty to brands that actively support charities and other shared causes. Additionally, 72% of regular restaurant customers recommend businesses that they feel supports a worthy cause.
Giving back can therefore encourage customers to come back and dine at your locations again and again. Since donations also have tax advantages, your charity marketing strategy can couple with loans for restaurants and other deductible expenses that can help you grow while minimizing your tax burden.
To help you master your charity-driven loyalty strategy, you can use the following pointers that can increase your chances of success.
Unfortunately, not every charity out there puts its money towards a worthy cause. Before donating, make sure that any money the charity receives actually goes towards an effective solution to the related problems it aims to solve.
First, check that the organization is a legitimate 501(c)(3) registered tax-exempt non-profit. Then, use tools like Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to ensure your chosen organization achieves high quality results. The last thing you want is for customers to find out they’ve been “donating” to a for-profit business that gives most of its money to a CEO and ineffective awareness campaigns.
Practicing due diligence also means keeping a tight watch over the flow of cash from customers to your business and then to the intended charitable cause. Document everything that is earned and donated, and watch for signs of abuse within your regular bookkeeping.
Charitable donations should not be an occasional thing if your aim is to stir up customer loyalty while making an actual difference. The most effective relationships happen when restaurants can integrate donations to a single worthy organization or type of cause.
For instance, the Cousins Subs chain funds a Wisconsin Sports Awards Scholarship that gives away $14,000 in total scholarship funding annually. Repeated giving and closer relationships help preserve awareness within your customers. That way, they can associate your brand with a specific cause from memory rather than having to keep up with flash-in-the-pan campaigns.
If you think you would rather rotate who you donate to, then let your customers decide! Hold a vote through receipts and/or social media postings so everyone can determine the charity they want to support for the current period. This type of promotion keeps people actively involved while helping them feel like their loyalty makes a difference.
With the rise in sophisticated POS systems and mobile pay, donating a few dollars to charity has never been easier. That’s why Chili’s franchises with table tablet ordering systems encourage donating by offering additional loyalty points. Their donations offer them satisfaction as well as real value in the form of loyalty currency.
Consider tying your loyalty rewards to charitable donations and not just regular purchases to maximize the value customers get from giving back.
The best way to associate your restaurant brand with philanthropy is to have positive action embedded right within your everyday business activities.
For instance, the “Farm to Restaurants” program forges relationships between restaurants and local farmers in Northern California. Diners get access to fresher, locally sourced foods while family-owned farms are supported and encouraged to flourish, making the arrangement a win-win for everyone!
Other opportunities for embedding charity into your business model include regularly donating food to a local shelter, hosting a yearly charity run/walk, or donating a set percentage of proceeds to a single cause on a consistent basis. The deeper and more relevant the relationship, the more loyal diners can feel like every meal they eat makes a difference!
Every year the technology required to track ROI, offer mobile-based loyalty programs, and handle back-house accounting gets more complex. If you are looking for opportunities to expand your capabilities or launch new programs with a charitable lean, loans for restaurants could be the answer you need.
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