Reward your loyal customers

in Doing Business Better

Don’t let the fact that the CMG Crew (Chipotle Mexican Grill Crew, aka me and my lunch buddies) visits Chipotle nearly every day fool you. Sure they make a killer burrito and we love everything about the restaurant, but there is still room for improvement.

Doing Business Better

Due to the frequency with which the CMG Crew visits Chipotle, it is a no-brainer that the first recommendation to Chipotle is that they establish some form of a customer loyalty program.

Now it is only fair that I mention that they do have a Master Burrito Ambassador program, but I question whether or not you need celebrity status to receive this honor.

Will Rhymes mentions that he eats at Chipotle about twice per week.

Bah, that is rookie status!

Seriously, the CMG Crew eats there a minimum of three times per week and 95% of the time it is four or five times per week. And we’ve been doing it for years.

Low tech rewards

So what is Chipotle to do?!?

They could start by creating a customer loyalty program that rewards people that frequent their business, regardless of social status.

It can be low tech – think of the standard punch cards that many places have used over the years. Now this would require some care as Subway got burned in the past when people began to counterfeit the stamps that they used on their cards. But at the core, the concept is worthy.

Every 10 burritos you buy, you get one free.

A little more tech friendly

To avoid the risk of counterfeit punch / stamp cards, Chipotle could create a customer loyalty card. Like a credit card, it would record your purchases and be able to track how much you have purchased. When you reach certain levels, they could mail you free burrito cards or other swag that sets you apart from the casual customer.

Some people don’t like these cards because it tracks your purchases and screams of big brother watching over you. But I’m going to buy my burrito every day, and it isn’t like I’m trying to discretely purchase products that I don’t want anyone knowing about. So track away.

Going high tech

So maybe Chipotle scoffs at these basic loyalty programs and doesn’t feel they are a fit for their brand. Okay, so step up the game and get creative.

How about a discount for people that check in on foursquare or Facebook? How about a free burrito to the foursquare Mayor of each location? Maybe an app for the iPhone / Droid / Blackberry that can be used to enter each receipt and rewards you after a certain number of purchases?

Blast the walls off that box; don’t let the idea of a rewards program stifle the ingenuity.

Plan it, but plan it right

I urge Chipotle to plan some fashion of a customer loyalty program, but I caution them to take some time and plan it the right way. There are examples of good and bad reward programs that can serve as a starting point.

Do something though.

Show your loyal customers that they are valued. Chipotle has a big push to educate people on Food with Integrity. Back that up as a Corporation with Integrity and throw a bone to the people that have helped the company achieve the success it has had.

One final note, Chipotle has introduced the Farm Team – of which the CMG Crew is a member – and this may be their version of a loyalty program. If that is the case, I would suggest a few revisions as once you are a Farm Team member there is nothing feeding the desire to keep buying burritos.

Reward your loyal customers and make a commitment to doing business better.

What do you think?

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