For over 30 years, Rewards Network has been driving business to restaurants by motivating millions of loyalty program members with the rewards of their choice. But it’s not just consumers who know the power of Rewards Network to boost restaurant business – even some of our loyal restaurant partners are members of these loyalty programs!
Mike Merrigan, owner of OC Tavern Grill & Sports Bar in San Clemente, Calif., was a member of the United MileagePlus program before joining Rewards Network as a restaurant partner. To learn about why Rewards Network works for his restaurant over other loyalty programs and advertising, Merrigan shared his experience with our own account manager Sarah Nakamoto.
After nine years in the business, what do you think has been OC Tavern’s secret to success?
Definitely how our staff interacts with our customers. We have great food and great service!
Overall, we’re known for our sports atmosphere, including having one of the only off-track betting locations in all of California! And we host huge sporting events. Everyone shows up for March Madness. The Triple Crown races — Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and Belmont — and anything football.
What drew you to partner with Rewards Network?
I’m involved with the MileagePlus program as a consumer and I know it motivates me. It’s a win-win situation. If you’re trying to choose between two restaurants, and going to get a benefit at one of them, why not choose that one?
I also did some research and I liked everything I saw about the Rewards Network websites and email. You came in personally and explained it all in a knowledgeable way. It made it easy to want to do it!
I like the reports I get every week, showing the new people who have come in and who are returning. It’s just telling me that what I’m paying for is coming back to me. You just can’t tell that with like 95% of the programs available out there, especially with print advertising. You can’t tell what’s effective. But Rewards Network works!
And we’ve been getting new customers in! And we see that they’re returning
I know that if we can get them in, we can get them to come back, because of our food, our staff, and our atmosphere.
What about the comment management system? Do you use that?
I do! The best thing about that is that it’s true opinions from real diners. It’s not Yelp. I hate Yelp because people can hide behind their computer. You don’t know if they’re real customers or what their motivation is. For all we know, they could be from another restaurant.
These reviewers are actual diners that you know with a true testimonial. We’ve gotten bad reviews elsewhere that just sound ridiculous, but with Rewards Network, we don’t get that because it’s all from true customers that came in and had the food. It’s a true life experience.
What advice do you have for other restaurant operators out in the market?
Definitely believe in Rewards Network and follow its direction. They know what they’re doing.
And it works. Believe me, I’ve tried everything and I can brag now that this is the only thing that works. When other salespeople come in, I just tell them I already am on the best program.
It’s worked even better than my own in-house rewards program. I just finally shut it down. With ours, customers didn’t like giving their information or email addresses. Rewards Network’s program is hassle-free. It’s all set-up for us. With ours, we had to have our employees try to get the information and have customers fill out a form. They just never did it.
But this is already set up for success.
Want to see how Rewards Network can provide a dining loyalty program that’s turnkey and keeps your customers coming back?