The future of restaurant loyalty: restaurant meal subscriptions

Editorial Team

6 min read
People eating pizza at restaurant

There is no denying that the subscription model is quickly becoming a major trend in the restaurant industry. Since 2020, major chains such as Panera Bread, Olive Garden, HuHot Mongolian Grill, and BJs Restaurants have launched monthly subscription programs for coffee, entrées, and even beer.

These programs have not only increased repeat visits by up to 200%, but also have influenced a significant increase in customer loyalty and spending during extra visits. Additionally, the National Restaurant Association recently found that over 51% of restaurant customers would subscribe to a restaurant if they had the opportunity to do so.

Read on for more information about how Restaurant Subscriptions work, what they offer you and your customers, and how our Clover partner ChewCrew can help any Clover merchant launch and manage subscription programs with ease.

What are restaurant subscriptions?

Put simply, restaurant subscriptions allow your customers to pay you a fixed monthly fee in exchange for a set number of meals, drinks, or other items at your restaurant. This model is separate and distinct from subscription meal kits for pickup or delivery, and allows you to enhance your patrons’ in-person dining experience. After a customer subscribes to one of your customized meal plans (bronze, silver, or gold, for example), they’ll have the option to spend their monthly pre-paid credits on the items specified in their plan anytime they come to visit your restaurant. 

As loyal subscribers, restaurant patrons are offered an enhanced VIP dining experience by receiving credits that reload on a monthly basis, ultimately driving them to visit your restaurant more frequently, bring their friends and family, and buy more items at full-price since they receive a discount on the items they subscribe to. In addition to increasing customer retention and loyalty spending, subscriptions also generate an additional stream of predictable, recurring revenue for your business that you receive before you incur the cost of food and labor on a monthly basis.

Case study: Braxton’s Kitchen (Camarillo, CA)

Last year, a brunch joint out of Camarillo, CA, partnered with ChewCrew to launch a subscription meal membership that allows customers to subscribe to a Bronze Plan, Silver Plan, or Gold plan for 1, 2, or 4 entrée credits per month, respectively. In less than a year, they grew to over 70 subscribing customers that pay them anywhere from $11 to $38 per month for their in-person meal subscriptions. While the recurring revenue from the subscription cost alone has been valuable for the owners of Braxton’s Kitchen, they are even more excited by the increased customer loyalty and spending behaviors that have resulted from their program.

Since launching 16 months ago, their subscription program has generated $22k from membership fees alone plus an additional $45k of revenue from additional spending by subscribers. On average, their subscribing customers are spending $39 extra per month as subscribers than they did prior to starting their subscription. These increases have allowed the owners at Braxton’s Kitchen to hedge against the hardships brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and posture their business to launch a second location in the coming months.

Logistics: How to launch and manage a subscription program with ease using ChewCrew

There are six things to consider when launching a subscription program for your restaurant in order to ensure customers receive the best experience and continue subscribing month after month to your business. ChewCrew, one of Clover’s merchant partners, offers a package of services that makes launching and managing a subscription program hassle free while also integrating with your Clover devices.

1. Customize your membership tiers

Customers are more likely to subscribe to a meal plan when you provide multiple plan tiers to suit different customer preferences. ChewCrew, our preferred partner for restaurant subscription services, will have a step-by-step onboarding form to help walk you through setting up your varying membership tiers. This process allows you to select the price of each membership tier, how many monthly credits each tier receives, and what a credit is redeemed for (e.g. an entrée, drink, or dessert).

2. Analytics

As previously mentioned, customers subscribed to your restaurant will often purchase additional menu items at full price in addition to the items covered in their subscription. To keep track of this additional spending while also analyzing adjustment in customer spending behavior before and after subscribing, ChewCrew’s Clover integration enables valuable analysis of your subscription program. ChewCrew delivers in-depth monthly analytics reports, which will offer you full transparency into how much revenue your subscription program has generated, how many active subscribers you have, how much additional money subscribers are spending after joining your program, and more.

3. Customer sign up process

You’ll also need an easy way for customers to learn more about your subscription program and subscribe to a monthly plan with ease.  For no additional cost, ChewCrew will set up your subscription landing page for customer sign-ups and provide QR codes that link directly to the page for plan selection and billing.

4. Item credit application, tracking, and management

After a customer subscribes, both you and the customer will need a way to keep track of how many credits they have, when their credits are redeemed for the items specified in their plan, and when their credits will reload on a monthly basis. The ChewCrew app on the Clover App Market will allow you to easily redeem customer item credits by simply entering the subscriber’s 4-digit membership ID at checkout, and this app integrates with existing ChewCrew subscription services free of charge. In addition, their app allows you to view the membership status, credits available, and credit reload dates for each of your subscribers. Subscribers also have access to a customer-facing web portal that allows them to view relevant information about their membership. 

5. Recurring billing management

After customers submit their initial payment, it will be critical to keep track of your subscribers’ monthly payments to ensure that they are billed on the same day every month and to manage issues with expired cards or failed transactions. By integrating with Stripe, a payment processing partner that securely manages subscription billing for millions of businesses worldwide, ChewCrew ensures your customers’ payment information is handled safely and billed correctly according to the plan to which they are subscribed.

6. Customer plan changes, cancellations, and general support

Lastly, to ensure a premium experience for your customers, there will need to be an option for subscribers to change to a different membership tier, ask questions about their subscriptions, or cancel if they choose to do so. Our friends at ChewCrew will manage all of this for you so that you can continue directing your energy where your business needs it most.

As a preferred restaurant subscription service provider, ChewCrew will allow you to launch and manage a subscription meal offering with ease. What’s more, they’re currently offering three-month free trials to Clover merchants exclusively and can help you get your subscription program launched in less than a week with minimal staff training required. As a cherry on top, they also partner with local homeless shelters and donate a warm, fresh meal monthly for each of your subscribing customers.

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