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A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned

Updated on January 31, 2015

So.. What is a customer loyalty program.

One of the best definitions I happened to find floating around out there was: "Intended to reward a retailer's best customers, the ones with whom it wants to form long-lasting relationships.."

"..The ones with whom it wants to form long-lasting relationships."

There are millions of them out there, okay, well maybe not millions, but there are thousands of them out there. So how do you decide which ones are worth having and which ones are not? Well if this was even 3 years ago, the decision might be far more difficult because you were always required to carry some sort of guest rewards card or key tag of one form or another. These days however, when you can just punch your phone number into a stores loyalty system, then I would say the more the merrier! If you happen to have 2 regular shopping stores for different kinds of deals, have a loyalty card with both!

Start looking around the stores that you already frequent as it is, because my #1 suggestion as far as customer loyalty savings goes would be to remember that they should be utilized as they are CONVENIENT to you. In other words, if you are spending $15 in gas to drive to and from a store to save $3 on your shopping trip, this is no longer a convenience to you.

With that said, my feelings as a business professional about loyalty programs have changed due to my experiences as a customer with them. Last year the company I work for opened a hybrid concept restaurant that was failing mainly due to concept confusion from regular customers, so you know what we did... gave the customers what they wanted. They wanted the same restaurant they went to the other 2 locations for, and the one we had in that location before we closed the doors in 2008. The task of re-gaining the community to be back on board for us to open as what they had originally thought we were going to be was tough, and was bound to be challenging.

I was the perfect manager for the task of re-training the staff for this switch-over due to my 4 years with the company and cheerleader like attitude about handling challenging opportunities. What do you think were the two largest components to hosting this switch-over while simultaneously growing sales in my mind?

1. Outreach - tackling the concept renewal and achieving the menu change-over, as well as making sure people who had tried us once as a grill, would come back and try us as the mexican roadhouse they had always loved

2. Loyalty- it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one

The two things any of my staff from that store, could probably still repeat to you in their sleep with excitement, are what the guest rewards program and lunch club are all about. They are the two loyalty programs we offer.

guest rewards program- is free to sign up, and you get a voucher for $10 off of your NEXT check (repeat business) once you have spent $100

lunch club- after (repeat business) the purchase of 5 lunches, the 6th one is on us (up to 8.99, which is the price point average of our lunch menu)

My experiences as a customer have shaped my thought process as a business professional on customer loyalty programs. I will go into the #1 customer loyalty program I would suggest to anyone to start saving money today. Again, I am merely a loyal customer raving about this program to save others money, that should say something to any business owner reading this now.

My #1 Customer Loyalty Experience.

Rite Aid- Wellness Plus Program

After 500 points 10% off of everything for a year!

After 1000 points 20% off of everything for a year!

My experiences with this program started at most do, with their advertising. I was living in Plymouth, NH at the time, was attending Plymouth State University and living in an off-campus apartment. Now, I don’t know how many of my readers will have actually been to Plymouth, but if you have, you know that it is a small ISOLATED college town, and the closest thing we had to major shopping convenience was a Wal-Mart like 3 or 4 miles up the road.

We also had a rite aid on the corner of Main Street and another street that was a short cut up to the student apartment’s I lived in. As a matter of convenience, any make-up/ hair / medicine product I needed, I stopped at Rite Aid.

I was first intrigued by of course all of the advertisements telling you to save 10% everyday. Of course the program is nothing like the save 10% everyday advertised all over the store, but after earning 500 points (1 point= $1), you really do start saving 10% off of everything in the store, EXCEPT when a wellness plus deal would save you more.

I found myself originally going because the wellness plus deals of the week were enough to bring me to rite-aid over any other general stores in the area. Also, the wellness deals, or in store sales, often coincided with store manufacturer coupons out for the week. I was spending my money there in an effort to save pennies here and there, let me tell you after $500 spent there with my card, I started saving myself lots of pennies.

$500 is a lot of money

Yes! $500 is a lot of money! To me, that is part of the brilliance of this program for rite-aid! I spent my $500 there because I still got better deals, and more products for my money due to the wellness deals. They still got the $500 of my business that Wal-Mart did not, and now that I am back living in Nashua, NH and there is a CVS and Walgreens to choose from too, guess who still gets my repeat business.

20% what?!

After the 500 points, that goal of 10% off had been attained! I was noticing I would choose to shop at rite-aid for things I might not have already been too! Maybe I needed an extension cord for my apartment, instead of going to Wal-Mart or radio-shack up the road, I would wait until I could go to rite-aid because I was getting 10% off.

**Here is an interesting tid-bit of information about the way that program works, your points start over on the first of the year. Your savings starts from the first minute you hit 500 points. So if you can get to save 20% off before you points start over, when they do start over, you still have the rest of a years worth of saving 20% left.

Similar to Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Well-designed customer loyalty programs are so highly effective for the reason that it provides the customer with the tools to benefit mutually from the relationship. A customer that can see how their repeat business and loyalty can benefits their own wallets, they will shop/spend more. Once I hit that 10% savings, you better believe that 20% savings was right around the corner because I was shopping at rite-aid more. Once I hit the 20%, there seems no reason to ever go to any other convenience store/pharmacy because I won’t get the same kind of savings. Also, I now have another years worth of saving 20% when my first one runs up to look forward too now! When my points re-set in January, my volume of business to rite-aid because of the savings I get, made the 1000 points for another years worth of 20% savings attainable by April!

An honorable mention

Here are some other customer loyalty programs that I also use on a regular basis worth checking out for anyone. Remember, the purpose of a customer loyalty program is YOUR repeat business, so if any of these programs are located at places you frequent, check them out. There is more often than not something beneficial in it for you.

Cumberland Farms Check-Link Smart Pay Card

This one is very new, but it has changed my morning route on the way to work as it is still within my way to grab my gas at cumby's! Linked directly to your checking account (the verification process is similar to that of pay-pal's), you will save 10 cents a gallon at the pump every time you fill up. Because it similar to a debit card, you will need your smart-pay check-link pin to even use the card as it is also linked to your checking. In my area, the local cumby's gas is usually a few cents cheaper than the others in the area, and i save an additional 10 cents off a gallon on top of that!

Stop and Shop Rewards Card

Our Stop and Shop always runs really good deals offered with the rewards card. Also, a fun perk is that you are able to DOUBLE manufacturers coupons up to $1! If you can find a 75 cent manufacturers coupon, you will save $1.50 off that item at stop and shop! This one can be partnered with Shell gasoline for additional savings.

Some others that may be in your area...

CVS Extracare Rewards Card

WALGREENS Balance Points Rewards Card

SHELL Fuel Rewards Card


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