IS IT TOO SOON FOR A LOYALTY PROGRAM?
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.
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.