We all love free stuff, don’t we? Even if we have to buy 10 pizzas before getting a free one. And restaurant owners are well aware. That’s why restaurant loyalty apps are on the rise these days.

If you are a restaurant owner, you want to turn each customer into a regular because it’s predictable, higher income. And if restaurant loyalty apps can help, chances are one of them is already on your agenda:

Restaurant Loyalty Apps Platforms

So how do you choose a restaurant loyalty app that works best for you, with so many options? Or do you build an entirely custom loyalty app for your restaurant? We have our favorite (and, of course, relevant loyalty app development experience), and we’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, let’s quickly recap why a restaurateur who’s still on the fence about developing a loyalty app needs to move fast.

Table of Contents:

#1: Why do you need a restaurant loyalty app?
#2: Fancy vs. useful restaurant loyalty apps.
#3: Toast features to get your restaurant into the loyalty-apps game.
#4: Still not onboard? What other power features do you get with Toast?
#5: If you need some inspiration for your loyalty app’s features.
#6: Let’s develop a revenue-generating loyalty app for your restaurant!

So how do you choose a restaurant loyalty app that works best for you, with so many options? Or do you build an entirely custom loyalty app for your restaurant? We have our favorite, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, let’s quickly recap why a restaurateur who’s still on the fence about developing a loyalty app needs to move fast.

1. Why do you need a restaurant loyalty app?

Restaurants obviously don’t build loyalty apps for the sake of vanity. The driving impulse here is understanding that it’s way less expensive to retain a customer than acquire a new one. And if an app is all they need to earn rewards (read: no plastic required), then you can be a trend-setting place millennials hype about.

Toast loyalty app

Here are some other goals you might be pursuing by getting a loyalty app built for your restaurant.

Gather customer data and personalize their experience

If a restaurant knows my favorites and offers me a discount for my birthday (because they know I’ll bring friends) or a free treat now and then, I’m already sold. The same goes for any other customer who likes to try something new every time.

The point is to use this customer data to create exciting personal experiences that make your guests feel special.

Related: How To Create A Mobile Ordering App Like Chick-Fil-A

Catch up with the big guys

Though it’s hardly the reason to start fussing about a restaurant loyalty app, companies like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts do set the bar for customer satisfaction with their loyalty programs.

Increase the average check size

Every time you show customers how close they’re to a reward, you’re basically asking them to order more. And let’s admit sometimes it’s just hard to resist the urge to get that free coffee.

Toast review about increased profits with their restaurant loyalty appEngage customers with notifications

Notifications, when used wisely, allow you to keep in touch with your patrons even when they’re far away from your place. Just remember: today, you don’t get a second chance if your messages do not carry tangible value for your customers.

Allow to order remotely and pick up

Who loves to order to-go on their way home and then wait in line at a restaurant? That’s right, nobody does. And restaurant loyalty apps are perfect for such cases: order remotely, pay via the app, and then pick up at the place.

Gather customer feedback

It’s funny how much people would tell you about your service from the comfort of their home. Many of us prefer to avoid negative experiences, which means it’ll take time before you find out (God forbid) about your staff nose-picking.

integration with POS is an important aspect of a loyalty appProper response to COVID-19

And in the times when people may be afraid to visit crowded places, a restaurant loyalty app becomes a life-saver coming to the rescue of your restaurant business. Customers can continue ordering through the loyalty app, and even get their orders delivered if your margin allows.

So building a loyalty app for your restaurant with a proper menu, ordering, and delivery features may turn out a great idea to live through the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Fancy vs. useful restaurant loyalty apps

It makes sense to set reasonable expectations about what kind of a loyalty app your restaurant will most benefit from. If you’re looking for a 100% custom solution that allows customers to tap smartphones to apply or exchange bonuses, navigates guests to their table, fires off a notification when they stroll by your place, or offers virtual reality experience — you’re looking to spend somewhere between $150K and $300K.

Starbucks mobile loyalty appThe things you are scratching the back of your head to justify this app development cost are back end infrastructure, API integrations, and admin portals with reports, and support for the latest tech like augmented and virtual reality, NFC, and BLE beacons.

The usual custom loyalty app with a more timid functionality can be realized within a $100K budget; some off-the-shelf solutions will cost even less (though limiting your options considerably).

The sweet spot is to take a flexible ready-made solution and customize it to your restaurant’s needs. Something like Toast. We love it, and here’s why we think you’ll love it too.

3. Toast features to get your restaurant into the loyalty-apps game

Toast is easily one of the top-rated restaurant loyalty platforms out there.

Toast reviewsLet’s go through all features that Toast has to offer to help you grow loyalty among your customers and keep them coming back for more.

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Easy to enroll customers

Toast offers five ways for your customers to enroll in your restaurant’s loyalty program:

1. in person when going through the payment workflow
2. online after placing an order through Toast
3. online using a sign-up link
4. online via a digital receipt
5. restaurant staff can sign them up directly

Easy to process for your staff

Toast is very flexible in terms of how your staff members work with rewards. They can easily find a customer in the system by a credit card or phone number. If you need to add existing customers to the platform, you can do this with a batch upload.

Easy to redeem & look up earned points

Reward points can be redeemed before or after payment. Customers can always visit a dedicated web portal where they can review their total rewards balance. Besides, customers get updates on earned points via emails with digital checks.

Guests can use their gift cards for the loyalty program

All cards in Toast support dual function and can contain cash balances and loyalty points. And so any gift card can also work as a loyalty card. And vice versa, a loyalty card can have a cash balance and function as a gift card. Toast stores these balances separately.

Reports to glean insight about your most loyal customers

Toast provides rich reports that allow you to set up an almost per-customer marketing strategy, drawing on the insights from each customer visit.

Toast analyticsThis data clearly shows who your most loyal customers are and what steps you can take to improve experience for other guests.

Integrations with other loyalty programs

As if all of the above was not enough, Toast also integrates and allows your customers to redeem rewards from other restaurant loyalty apps like Punchh or Paytronix. It takes some tweaking in Toast’s back end, so a partnership with someone who has experience in building restaurant loyalty apps will not hurt.

Supports custom-built restaurant loyalty apps

Finally, you can always develop your own loyalty app for your restaurant using Toast API and enrich its functionality with desired features. And the mobile app design will be crucial to the success of your loyalty app.

4. Still not onboard? What other power features do you get with Toast?

Compared with developing a restaurant loyalty app from scratch, Toast can provide virtually everything necessary to cover your operations:

  • integration with payments, billing, delivery, and any other software (including kitchen software)
  • back-office portals for managing loyalty app rules and contents
  • ready customizable mobile loyalty app

In a gist, with Toast, you get not only a restaurant loyalty app, but all imaginable integrations (e.g., with POS) and components to run a restaurant business. What many restaurant owners don’t realize is that a loyalty app is more than a mere mobile app. It always comes with a back end, a standalone web application for owners to manage the app, kiosk software, and sometimes firmware to control specific hardware.

5. Inspiration for your loyalty app’s features

A loyalty app done right will help you set up an ever-growing stream of profit.

Our loyalty app has tens of thousands of downloads and processes 25% of all transactions. The goal is for 100% of repeat traffic to come through the app because it allows us to narrowly target our customer base and drive offers that are tailored to each specific person.

Austin Brinson, vice president of analytics at B.GOOD

Entertain and Engage

Making your restaurant’s loyalty app fun to use can take your customers’ experience to an entirely new level, and there’s plenty of techs to rely on.

Sample restaurant loyalty app

  • Use push, location-based, and proximity (beacons) notifications for special events
  • Offer your customers mini-games like quizzes to shorten their wait time
  • Include video recipes, virtual reality or augmented reality experiences to leave a mark on your customers’ memories
  • Tease your regulars with how close they’re to the next tier in your rewards system

Offer personal experience

The insights that you’ll get from the loyalty app will help you make your customer experience as personal as possible:

  • ask if they’d like the best table on their birthday in advance
  • allow take-out orders to get rid of lines
  • integrate mobile payments for self-checkout

Gather customer feedback

Remember that your restaurant loyalty app can also collect your customers’ feedback explicitly:

gather customer feedback via loyalty app

  • build in surveys
  • ask customers to leave a review on the app stores
  • analyze their feedback and modify their experience

Think long-term

It’s one thing to develop a custom loyalty app just for your business, and it’s an entirely different thing to create a restaurant loyalty app that can be white-labeled for other restaurants and businesses. Take a look at the app-based rewards platform we built for AppyPerks:

6. Let’s develop a perfect loyalty app for your restaurant

If you decide to build a loyalty app for your restaurant using Toast, you’ll get all of that. But note that it’s not all butterflies with Toast either. Here’s a 4-star (of 10 max) review from a pizza chain restaurant that’s been with Toast since 2015, and they still have gripes that take 30 mins to go through.

That’s why it’s important to partner with a development team that will be able to tweak Toast every way you need to get you a custom restaurant loyalty app that’s perfectly tailored to your customers’ tastes. Schedule a call to ask more questions about building a loyalty app for your restaurant.

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Konstantin Kalinin
Technical Copywriter
Konstantin has worked with mobile apps since 2005 (pre-iPhone era). Helping startups and Fortune 100 companies deliver innovative apps while wearing multiple hats (consultant, delivery director, mobile agency owner, and app analyst), Konstantin has developed a deep appreciation of mobile and web technologies. He’s happy to share his knowledge with Topflight partners.

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