Being a frequenter of some well-known chain restaurants: Panera, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks, just to name a few, I know that loyaltyprograms can give you some pretty great perks.

So here is the latest scenario, a couple months ago I used my “MyPanera” card and the employee at the register said “Nicole” or “Dennis,” and I responded with my name, however, I later found out that my dad had also recently gone to Panera and by responding with his name, Dennis, the employee said that he had a month of free coffee. Well, the next time I went into Panera, you can be sure that I responded with “Dennis” when the employee asked which account. Now, I attributed this to the fact that my dad often gets Panera catered for his work and therefore has visits Panera more frequently and spends additional. Therefore each time I now go into Panera, I type in the phone number and respond with “Dennis,” but lately there haven’t been any great rewards as the free coffee.

That got me wondering, how does the MyPanera loyalty program really work? Would it be better sometimes if I responded “Nicole,” and built up my own points? I just assumed that because my dad most likely went to Panera more often and spent more money that he would then be given more rewards….however this is where the “surprise” comes in.

Looking up the MyPanera reward program, I soon found out more about the types of free items you will receive: free food and drink items, invitations and exclusive previews, free recipe books, ideas for cooking, etc, “however, you will not know which rewards you’ll receive, or when you’ll receive them. The Panera website says ‘that’s part of the fun-it’s always a surprise.’” Well I mean I guess that’s nice to occasionally get some sort of surprise when you visit Panera, but for me I would rather know how many points equate to a certain dollar or visit amount and then what I can redeem that point figure for. Sure I might be getting a “surprise” of free coffee for a month now and then, but what if I knew that the more I spent translated into more points that I can redeem for certain items? I would then want to keep going to Panera and rack up the points in order to get another free month of coffee.

Like I said though, Panera isn’t the only one that has points programs. I also have the Dunkin app and have enrolled in the DD perks program in order to get rewards. The “points” program here varies from that of Panera, as “members earn 5 points for every $1 spent on qualifying products, exclusive of sales tax.” “A reward coupon for a free single serve beverage will be issued for every 200 perks points eared.”  Dunkin is incentivizing perks members to spend a higher dollar amount thereby earning more points. It doesn’t necessarily matter how many visits, because the points instead relate to the dollars spent. This works for me, I spend more at Dunkin such as throwing in a donut to my coffee order now and again, and then I get more points to a free coffee the next time. However, with the good there sometimes are bad parts of a loyalty program. For example, the other day for national donut day I soon found out that in the drive through even if both people have the loyalty program, only one coupon can be shown and therefore while one donut might be free the other must be paid for.

As you can see loyalty programs can be a great marketing tool to draw new customers to your business, and also retain existing customers as they continue to get rewards for repeat visits. Source One has extensive experience working with clients to develop their loyalty programs in order to increase sales, improve customer appreciation, allow for trial and error to pinpoint incentives that work well, promote business offerings, and expand consumer reach to an omni-channel environment. We have subject matter experts who are able to identify the needs within your company and match them to the most ideal partner.

So, while a “surprise” might be nice once in a while, consumers also need to understand how the loyalty program functions in order to reap the rewards of their purchases! Learn more about Source One's experience in strategic sourcing for loyalty programs.

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