Do you have the shiny new client syndrome? Or put in other words – are you always on the lookout for getting more clients?
Sound familiar? Then read on – you might be missing out on sales to your existing client base.
Many pet business owners I’ve talked to focus most of their marketing efforts on getting more clients, and forget about looking after, and promoting to their existing customers.
And this might seem like the right way to go about business – more (new) customers equals more profit, right?
Not necessarily so.
Did you know that according to Forbes it’s 50% easier to sell to existing customers than to brand new prospects? And it will cost you 5 times more to attract new customers than retaining existing ones?
Yes – that goes for the pet industry too.
This is probably why pet business loyalty cards have grown in popularity over the last decade or so amongst supermarkets and high street chains alike – and many pet stores and pet services now offer their very own pet business loyalty cards to their customers.
So, what, exactly, is a loyalty card?
“A customer-loyalty program offers rewards such as special discounts, free products and events. A customer signs up for the program by providing their email or physical mailing address. A retailer then uses that contact information to market directly to someone who is already interested in the store’s products or services.
In exchange, subscribers receive special perks that other customers do not receive. Retailers often provide subscribers with a plastic key chain card with a bar code to identify themselves to store staff or checkout software.” Source: PetBusiness.com
Some of the larger pet supermarkets have their own loyalty schemes. For example, PetCo run their PetCo Pals rewards with exclusive discounts and savings for members, plus members earn reward dollars with each purchase. Pet Supermarket run a similar programme called VIP – ‘Very Important Pet.
These types of programmes are all part of much bigger customer retention plans that keep track of all their members’ purchases, and deliver unique and relevant discounts and offers to their customers at the right time – hoping to gain customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
Low Tech Rewards Cards – Punch Cards & Stamp Cards
Smaller service based pet business like pet groomers, dog bakeries and independent pet stores and boutiques often take the low tech approach with simple punch cards and stamp cards where, say, every tenth purchase or service is free or discounted.
But whether your pet business goes for a high tech, or low tech approach, and whether you call them loyalty cards, rewards cards, points cards or a discount card – they are all designed to share discounts, offers and special stuff with your best customers, and in return hopefully foster customer loyalty and retention, as well as repeat sales.
In this article you will learn exactly what it takes to create a good looking, and effective loyalty card for your pet business.
What are the Benefits of Pet Business Loyalty Cards?
We’ve already talked about the fact that it’s easier and cheaper to promote and sell to your existing customers. But that’s not the only benefit of setting up a loyalty scheme for your pet business.
- Pet stores with loyalty cards tend to find that customers who come into their store to buy whatever was on offer, often go home with several other (full priced) products.
- By communicating regularly with their loyalty card holders with incredibly targeted offers, pet businesses are able to increase brand loyalty.
- Referrals rates tend to increase as loyalty card customers are more likely to recommend your business to friends and family.
- Customers who are on their way to get enough points or stamps for a reward are less likely to change suppliers – and so loyalty cards increase customer retention.
Still not convinced you need a loyalty scheme for your pet business? Here’s a success story from Chama, a holistic dog food and grooming spa that managed to increase their business profits from $50-$150 a day to $400-$800 a day by using a one-stop rewards system called FiveStar.
I have no personal experience with that particular company, but I believe the benefits of any type of rewards system (whether its a simple punch card system, or all bells and whistles computer system) will be similar if used properly.
How to Set Up a Simple Loyalty Scheme for Your Pet Biz
The first step towards creating a successful loyalty card scheme for your pet business is to really understand your customers’ needs and wants so you can tailor the offers and discounts directly towards them.
If you haven’t already done so, take some time to create a customer persona card and think about your USP (unique selling proposition).
Another approach would be to simply ask some of your best customers what type of rewards they would prefer. Many customers would love to help you develop your loyalty scheme and share their thoughts, so if you have their email addresses then you could easily gather some quick feedback this way. You could also ask them their thoughts when you have their attention at the till.
- Cash Back
- Discounts/Gift at their Pet’s Birthday
- Surprise Gifts
- Every 10th walk/bath/groom free
What type of Rewards Scheme is Best for Your Pet Business?
The next step is to think about whether you want an all bells and whistles type of loyalty scheme, or a simple punch card or stamp card. There are several ‘off the shelf’ loyalty type programmes available which may save you time and effort, but of course they come with a cost.
The simpler, and cheaper, alternative is a simple paper loyalty punch card, or a stamp card – (like the ones you get at Starbucks). This route is very popular with smaller pet services, and super easy to implement.
When I worked in my friend’s dog spa and boutique, I helped her set up a rewards card that gave our customers a reward not only at their tenth visit, but also some lovely rewards along the way. You can see the design in the picture above.
We offered a 25% discount at their second visit, a free gift at their 6th visit and a free groom every tenth visit. We printed the cards at Moo, and made each card completely unique by using photos of our customers’ dogs.
This proved incredibly popular, and customers loved choosing the right card with either their own dog, or one of a similar breed.
Pet Loyalty Scheme Essentials
If you decide to design your own rewards cards, make sure you consider the following to make your rewards scheme as effective as possible.
- Ask for your customer’s email address so you can stay in touch and communicate unique deals and discounts that are only available to your loyalty customers. You could include some space on the loyalty card itself for this purpose, or you could ask for their email address when you give them the card.
- Set up a special email list especially for your loyalty customers and make a point of contacting them regularly with fun deals and incentives. But don’t use your Outlook or Gmail to keep track of your list – I recommend Mailchimp as an email supplier. You get really nifty looking email templates and their beginner’s service is completely free. You can get some more email marketing tips in my article “Why Email Marketing is More Important than Ever for Pet Businesses”.
- Create a Communications schedule – and stick with it! This could be as simple as:
1. Email each new sign up with a welcome email
2. Email loyalty members weekly with interesting news, deals and incentives
3. Email members ahead of the holiday season, national pet day, their pet’s birthday and so on.
- Consider offering every 10th groom/walk/dog food bag for free, and add smaller discounts throughout to keep customers excited for more.
- Buy a unique stamp or hole punch – and consider adding your initials for each visit to discourage scammers.
- Write up your loyalty card terms and conditions and link to them from your website where you’re promoting your loyalty card and service fees.
How to get people to sign up to your Pet Business Loyalty Scheme
Nowadays you get loyalty cards in every store, and not surprisingly some customers suffer from loyalty card overload. But don’t let that discourage you!
If you’ve made your homework and know what sort of deals and incentives your customers want you can make your loyalty card truly special so they really see the benefit of signing up. Here are a couple of tips for getting your customers to agree to signing up.
- Be completely clear about the benefits of your loyalty scheme. If you have a website, make sure to add a page talking about your loyalty scheme and all the amazing benefits that awaits. If you have a page listing your fees, then make sure you mention the loyalty scheme and link to the relevant page.
- Signage – print some professional looking posters promoting your loyalty scheme, or go classic with a chalk board. Whichever route you go for – make sure your customer can’t miss the benefits of your rewards scheme.
- If you have a store – then use special price tags for the discounts that are only available to loyalty card customers. That makes the card holders feel extra welcome, and non card holders get curious and want to join the fun.
- Your loyalty scheme will never take off unless your staff is onboard 100%, so make sure you’ve trained them in how to promote your scheme.
- Consider offering a signing up discount – for example ‘Get 10% off today when you sign up for our loyalty card’.
Where to Design and Print Your Pet Biz Loyalty Card
Moo Design if you’re quite familiar with Photoshop or Illustrator, and you’re able to design your own rewards card, then Moo offers incredibly good quality.
And if you have lots of photos of your four legged clients you will be able to print a different image on each card (up to 100 different designs in one print run). The downside is of course that they don’t offer a pre made template for the punch card/stamp side of your loyalty card so you would have to design this yourself and upload as a PDF or PNG file.
Vista Print – Vista Print have a range of ready designed rewards cards that are ready to use. You can also upload your own logo, and move text around. A blank back side is included in their price, but you can upgrade to full colour or grey scale print.
You can also upload your own photo, but they are not able to print one photo per card like Moo does. Vista offers great print prices, but their ready made designs are pretty basic and may lack the ‘wow factor’ you’re after.