How to Create a Dining Discount Card Program

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A restaurant dining discount card can be an effective way to attract new customers and make regulars of restaurant customers. Customers can use the card to dine at restaurants they've never been to for a significantly reduced price or return to favorites for a discount. A small monetary investment and some planning are all that are required to create a program that will benefit both restaurants and their customers.

Things You'll Need

  • Electronic or paper system for recording membership information
  • Restaurants that will participate in your program
  • Decide the purpose of the program. It can offer several features, such as a 20% discount on a bill, free drinks, or a free meal with purchase of an additional entree. One discount card, iDine, provides cash-back rewards for buying food.

  • Decide whether you want consumers to pay for membership in the program and, if so, how much they will pay.

  • Design a card for your program. Be sure to include the name of your restaurant, phone number, address, and a space for a membership number.

  • Take the design for your card to a professional printer and have the printer make the cards. If possible, have the cards numbered. These numbers can serve as membership numbers.

  • Create a membership form for people to fill out as they join the program. Typical information you will want to collect are the member's name, address, phone number and email address. You may have people mail in the form or submit their information online.

  • Record all the information you collect when a member joins. Record this information next to each person's membership number. You can use an Excel sheet to store the personal information or a paper book if you prefer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many programs, such as Local Dining Card, charge members about $20 per year. You may also choose to make the card free for customers. Incorporate the membership program into the computer systems of participating restaurants. This way, you can also keep track of purchases and provide a quick way of finding proof of membership (such as a phone number) in case a guest loses his or her membership card. Consider having a programmer set up a connection for the restaurants to a central database. You may also want to contact customers by email or postal mail with offers and special deals; however, see warning #1 below. Information such as customers' favorite foods and how much a customer spends can be useful;
  • Be sure to specify what the information on your membership form will be used for, including whether you will contact members with information about special promotions, use a third party to store the records, or share their information with others. If you are unsure what to say, consult an attorney for specifics. Make sure to record the names of members and their corresponding numbers. Some unethical people may make unauthorized copies of your card. You may want to have your cards embedded with a watermark or other security detail.

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