A bounceback is a promotional offer given to a customer after a recent sale to encourage them to revisit soon, or “bounce back” to the restaurant. Traditionally, restaurant bouncebacks increase profitability by offering special deals to customers who return during off-peak hours. However, bouncebacks can include any post-purchase promotion that encourages new customers to return again soon.
Bouncebacks are especially good at getting first-time customers in the door for a second time, since the customer knows that they will receive a reward on their next visit. After customers have patronized your restaurant more than once or twice, loyalty programs are generally more effective than bouncebacks.
You should only give out bouncebacks to new customers or customers who might otherwise be lost. Before mailing or handing out a bounceback, ask yourself, “Do I expect this customer to return again soon?” If the answer is “no” or “maybe,” a bounceback could be an effective marketing tool. If the answer is “yes,” you should consider asking the customer to enroll in your loyalty program, instead.
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Many restaurants have found success by using some of the following promotions as bouncebacks:
The traditional restaurant bounceback “bounces” customers from busy hours to off-peak hours. Offer a discount or reward during your slowest hours. For example, you could offer customers a coupon for three dollar cocktails before 9:00 pm.
Buy one get one free (BOGO).
This promotion is especially effective on customers that have patronized your restaurant alone. It often incites them to bring a friend next time. It can also be a good way to get couples back in the door.
An example would be a coupon that offers customers two dollars off their next appetizer purchase. A product-specific discount is more effective than a general discount. It encourages customers to purchase an item they might not try otherwise, and the more menu items a customer tries and loves, the more reasons they have to become a regular.
Free item with purchase.
Offering new customers a free treat with their next purchase is often an irresistible temptation. One example of an enticing bounceback would be to offer a free dessert with the purchase of an entrée and drink.
To ensure that your bounceback promotion is effective, you need to make sure it will bring the customer through the door soon. The incentive should seem both desirable and urgent. Here are a few general guidelines for implementing a bounceback marketing strategy:
Include an expiration date.
Customers consistently forget about their coupons or special offers. Making the bounceback a “limited time only” deal gets them back through the door as soon as possible, before they forget.
Limit the number of strings attached.
It is probably not a good incentive to offer something of low value with the purchase of several high value items. “Free fountain drink with the purchase of two entrees” is not very enticing. “Free dessert with purchase of an entrée” is much more desirable.
Offer different deals to different customers.
Unless you are offering a time-specific bounceback, offer your lunch customers deals on lunch and your dinner customers deals on dinner. You could also gear your promotions to customers in even more specific ways, such as offering families a free kids meal with the purchase of two adult entrees.
Avoid general discounts.
Discounting suggests that your product is not worth full price. Instead of general discounting, you should offer an “added value” deal like the ones listed above. That way, customers will be more willing to pay full price when they return without the promotion.
Make the bounceback a great deal.
The purpose of a bounceback is to create more regular customers. Even though it might cut into some of your profits, the better the bounceback deal is, the more likely customers will frequent your restaurant again. As long as you get them through the door again, you have the opportunity to turn them into regular paying customers.
Remember, bouncebacks are a one-time offer, so do not be afraid to use them. Unfortunately, the chances are that the majority of customers will never come back. The more incentives you can give them to return, the better the opportunity for creating a loyal customer. Remember, a full restaurant is always good for business because it makes your establishment look more desirable.