GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Oh, those lovely loyalty programs

Growing your businessby Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

There is a scene in Seinfeld where Elaine loses her little punch card from a sandwich shop. The card has only one more star to punch and she will get a free sub. And now she is angry and disappointed because she lost it. When Jerry asks her “Why” she is so upset since she had told him she didn’t even like the sandwiches there. She whines, “But it was free Jerry….free!” Doesn’t that reflect the way we all feel about loyalty programs? Often, like Elaine, we don’t even like the product or service, but we will keep going six, or 10 or even 12 times to get our little card punched because we will get something for nothing.

Now just think if we are in a loyalty program where we will get a product, we actually love…and get it for free. Let’s face it, everyone loves getting rewarded as long as it is something they like, and they don’t have to jump through hoops to get it.

Loyalty programs are good, if they are fair and honest and the customer is really getting something he likes well enough to play.

Here are some things to consider when developing a loyalty program:

  • Of course, make sure your product or service or food is great. What good is a loyalty program if your product is so lousy that no one wants it?
  • Make sure the program is fair and honest, and most of all, a good deal for not only you but the customer.
  • Avoid the loopholes. Nobody likes a loyalty program where they have to have a lawyer read the fine print. I once got a notice in the mail that because of my loyalty to a certain local pizza place I was entitled to a free pizza! All I had to do is bring in the flyer and, presto, I would have a free pizza. Since these guys had great pizza I was really pumped. But when I got there and ordered my free pizza the person taking my order showed me that the fine print, and I mean really fine print on the flyer, said that I could get a free pizza if I bought two other pizzas! Please no fine print deals, it tends make the customer angry. They would have been better off not so have sent the flyer in the first place.
  • Focus the program on pushing a product or service that you want to sell. It might be to get customers to try a new product, or to promote a service that is a good deal for both you and the customer.
  • And finally, any business can have a loyalty program. If you provide anything from cleaning services to oil changes, to dry cleaning, to pizzas and subs, you can create a loyalty program that will boost your business and keep those customers coming back.

And that’s how you grow your business.


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