Subscription programs have become popular in almost every sector of commerce, from clothing to streaming services, but recently restaurants have turned to this model as an additional revenue stream.
When it comes to restaurant subscriptions, there are many ways to structure regular offerings and perks that customers buy into for a set period. These memberships can generate more revenue, encourage customer loyalty, and increase foot traffic, but the model isn’t necessarily a fit for every business. This quick overview can help you determine if a subscription service is right for your restaurant.
The Loyalty Club
Subscription models are riffs on the idea of a loyalty program, so it makes sense that one way to structure a subscription is much like a traditional loyalty program, offering perks for regulars. For a set monthly price, subscribers can enjoy unlimited hot and cold drinks on-site. This drives traffic, and of course, folks tend to order food while they’re picking up their beverages, driving up sales.
Another popular perk for this model is free delivery, which appeals to that group of guests who prefer takeout without the hassle. With FanCONNECT, a Performance One Source partner, you can up your loyalty program game while increasing cash flow and repeat business.
For the most devoted foodies, a subscription plan that focuses on the food or fun LTOs can be a smart strategy. This model can take many forms. It could be a monthly subscription that includes a delivered multi-course meal. Or, it could be a live or recorded cooking class, with provided ingredients and recipe cards — or even first access to try out your new specials. With something like this, it’s important to tap into what’s special about your operation.
For pizzerias, a kit for customers to make your most popular pies at home is a great option. If you’re known for your amazing pasta, a subscription with a monthly allotment of fresh pasta might be a good fit. Think about what you can offer guests that they can’t find elsewhere and use that as a jumping-off point. If you have a Mexican concept with beloved housemade hot sauces, consider bottling and selling in a trio to spicy food fans. With One Source partner, HungerRush, you get a fully integrated POS system with a built-in loyalty program that’s completely customizable, so you can design it your way using points, rewards, and more.
Restaurants have access to wine and spirits that the average consumer may not have, and regular guests rely on chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists for their knowledge and taste. In this type of subscription, customers become members of a type of club that allows them access to bottles of wine or spirits or special ingredients, either offered at a discount or included in the price of membership. These VIP memberships could also enjoy perks in the restaurant as well—access to off-menu items or regular tastings of your newest offerings.
The Good and the Bad
Subscription models can be a double-edged sword, so it’s important to consider your restaurant’s capabilities, as well as the pros and cons of subscription programs.
- Provides additional monthly revenue
- Increases customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Expands your reach to additional customers
- Provides additional opportunities for press coverage
- Takes resources from normal operations
- Can be off-putting for non-subscription members if they feel like they’re being slighted
- Can trigger a sense of ‘subscription fatigue’ among customers