“Before you begin marketing through a VIP Club, you need
to take a step back and look at your restaurant. Make sure
that you are ready for increased business. Don’t attempt to
market your restaurant unless you have above average food
and service. Good marketing can actually put a restaurant
that provides poor food and service out of business faster
because more people will have a poor dining experience,
and the negative word-of-mouth will cause them to fail
faster than if they do not market at all,” says Brent Davis,
Director of Coaching Services for
RestaurantMarketingGroup.org (RMG) a company
that specializes in helping restaurants to build sound,
trackable marketing systems through its easy-to-use
software, “How-To” marketing manuals and personalized
coaching.

Gathering the Data:

Once you have taken an internal inventory and feel good
about the food and service that you provide, it’s time to
start using and building your database of existing
customers. Remember that in most restaurants 30 percent
of the customers are bringing in 70 percent of the business.
For the sake of our discussion, let’s say that Joe’s Family
Diner has 10,000 customers a month. That’s 322 customers
each day. Seventy percent of the diner’s monthly customers
would be 7,000. If the restaurant’s VIP Club marketing
creates only one more visit per year per customer at
an average check of $25, the volume will increase by
$175,000 per year or $14,538 a month and that’s with only
one extra visit per existing customer per year. You can see
why it’s important to go after additional customer visits.

“Don’t forget that your existing customers are your
neighbors. A VIP Club enables you to market within your
neighborhood to existing customers. It’s permission based
and therefore considerably more effective than if you did a
blanket coupon offer to all of your neighbors. These are
folks who know and frequent your restaurant; they took the
time to fill out a VIP card and have shared personal
information with you,” says Davis.

“VIP Clubs are a great way to build customer loyalty. Always
give a thank you reward bonus for joining the club. We
recommend that the offers go out by email or regular mail
within 72 hours after signing up. The offer should be
without any strings attached. I like to suggest that the offer
be for a dollar amount. A flat $15.00 or $10.00 amount
could be enough depending on your guest check average.
You could give a FREE, dinner with a $10 or $15 limit. Give
them an offer they can use on anything they want. The
offer is now valuable and they feel compelled to use it,”
says Teresa Horn, RMG Marketing Program Development
Specialist.

To enjoy the greatest return on your VIP Club enrollment
campaign, you should train your employees so that they
understand everything about the VIP Club. Have a contest
and give prizes to the employees who sign up the most
customers. Place VIP Club displays and sign-up cards in very
high-traffic, highly visible areas. Use pre-printed “Post-It”
pad messages and put them on your menus so that your
customers and employees will be reminded to fill them out.
Always emphasize the benefits of VIP Club membership.
Enter the names and additional information into the
computer software program on a daily basis, using a part
time employee.