IS IT TOO SOON FOR A LOY­ALTY PRO­GRAM?

Inside Franchise Business - - Contents - AMANDA STEVENS Con­sumer trends and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence ex­pert

Size mat­ters when choos­ing a ter­ri­tory for your ser­vice fran­chise.

When you think loy­alty pro­gram, you prob­a­bly think big, flashy brands with big bucks to spend. Maybe you think of the lo­cal gym fran­chise, with gold plated loy­alty cards and re­wards worth thou­sands of dol­lars. Or, maybe you think of big de­part­ment stores who of­fer large dis­counts which your busi­ness just can’t af­ford. But loy­alty pro­grams are an ex­cel­lent tech­nique for any busi­ness, of any shape or size.

WHY LOY­ALTY PRO­GRAMS WORK

Loy­alty pro­grams have been around since retail was in­vented (al­most!). They work be­cause they tap into how our brains func­tion. We are all wired to re­spond to re­wards & recog­ni­tion. Our work, our re­la­tion­ships and our habits are all dic­tated by re­ward. Loy­alty pro­grams use this be­hav­iour to en­cour­age cus­tomer loy­alty.

Peo­ple love to feel ap­pre­ci­ated. They also love the feel­ing of a get­ting a good deal! Loy­alty pro­grams achieve both of these things.

WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE ONE

Loy­alty pro­grams are not just for big busi­nesses who have tonnes of cash to splash around. They are for ev­ery­one. Why? Be­cause they pay great div­i­dends! Loy­alty pro­grams pro­duce re­sults.

Here are four rea­sons, you need a loy­alty pro­gram:

1. Guar­an­tee re­turn cus­tomers.

2. Cre­ate sales.

3. In­crease brand fa­mil­iar­ity.

4. Get re­fer­rals.

Loy­alty sys­tems are a great tech­nique for grow­ing busi­nesses to ac­quire loyal cus­tomers and cap­ture the at­ten­tion of new cus­tomers. Loy­alty pro­grams don’t have to be ex­pen­sive or com­pli­cated.

If your fran­chisor does not have a loy­alty pro­gram in­stalled you can in­vest in re­la­tion­ships in­stead. The aim of a loy­alty pro­gram is to make your cus­tomers feel ap­pre­ci­ated.

BE GEN­ER­OUS

I know, your bud­get is tight. But, loy­alty pro­grams are worth in­vest­ing in. Why? Be­cause you get your money back! There is no point in of­fer­ing cus­tomers re­wards that are petty - they won’t ap­pre­ci­ate or use them. A st­ingy loy­alty pro­gram is worse than no loy­alty pro­gram at all. Think of cre­ative ways that you can af­ford to be gen­er­ous. Whether you choose to give dis­counts, free­bies or some other form of re­ward - be gen­er­ous.

My top tip for cash-strapped busi­nesses is to part­ner with an­other busi­ness and of­fer their ser­vices or prod­ucts through your loy­alty pro­gram. They may be happy to ar­range a bud­get friendly or pro-bono sys­tem in re­turn for the ex­po­sure.

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME?

So, is it too early to start a loy­alty pro­gram? No. If you have an newly es­tab­lished busi­ness with some clients, you’re ready. Here are the next steps:

• Think through what you can af­ford.

Talk to the fran­chisor’s mar­ket­ing team to find out what is af­ford­able and ef­fec­tive. The fran­chisor may al­ready have a loy­alty pro­gram tai­lor made for your client base.

• En­sure personal con­tact at ev­ery stage pos­si­ble. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for small busi­nesses.

• Make them feel the love! The more re­warded your cus­tomers feel, the more likely they are to be loyal.

Loy­alty pro­grams are pop­u­lar for a rea­son - they work. If you want to drive sales and in­crease cus­tomer loy­alty, you can’t miss this chance. Don’t be in­tim­i­dated by other busi­nesses’ pro­grams. It’s not about how much money you have or how many clients you have. It’s about ex­press­ing gen­uine grat­i­tude, gen­er­ously. n

Why a cash-strapped new­bie fran­chisee should look to a

cus­tomer loy­alty pro­gram.

Amanda Stevens is an au­thor, speaker and con­sul­tant on buy­ing trends and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

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