A restaurant group has a hi-tech scheme to give discounts. Brian Ellis reports.
A GO-AHEAD restaurant group is handing its customers the key to tasty VIP rates at a swipe.
The owners of three eateries near Preston are thought to be the first in the country to use a high-tech key fob based recognition system to give diners and drinkers their own exclusive offers.
Regulars at Dantes and the Ley Inn at Clayton-le-Woods and the Cavendish Arms in Brindle simply scan their personalised electronic key fobs at the tills to take advantage of privileged deals.
More than 4,000 members are already enjoying the discounts.
Partner Nick White, who dreamed up the state of the art system, said: “Our aim is to reach 10,000 members within two years.”
The key fob set-up uses similar technology to contactless bank cards or door entry systems.
Customers get a personalised electronic token which displays their contact details when scanned at the till and automatically deducts at least 20 per cent off their food bill and five per cent off their drinks tab, plus adding an extra one per cent of their spend as a loyalty bonus for the next time they dine.
“The system is so flexible that we can create additional special offers for different groups of customers too,” explained Nick.
“For instance members of Leyland Golf Club can get special rates when they dine or drink with us. They just produce their golf club card and we swipe it.
“We have a number of business groups which meet at Dantes each week and they receive 50 per cent off tea and coffee.
“The Ley Inn football team play on a Saturday afternoon. After the game when they come back for a bite to eat and a drink we can set the system up to charge them a reduced rate between five and seven o’clock.
“We can give different offers to different groups and it’s all sorted out automatically by the computer till system.
“All 4,000 customers who have joined the scheme automatically get a minimum of 20 per cent off their food bills.
But sometimes we may offer more, up to 50 per cent or so. We can make different offers to different groups and the computer works it all out and charges them accordingly.
“All people need to do to join the scheme is fill in a membership card at any of the three restaurants – they can even do it on the spot and they qualify immediately. ”
The group has brought in Leyland-based national restaurant marketing specialists Venue Marketing to manage the system and send targeted offers and marketing to all members using social networks and email.
Venue’s Jim Lawrenson explained “Nick is very innovative when it comes to giving customers the best possible experience.
“We are experimenting with a new function which can offer cut-price taxis home if customers qualify. We are even exploring the possibility of home delivery for meals using the key fob system.”
Nick added: “Effectively it’s an electronic loyalty card. But the way we have implemented the system here is unique.
“We are working with local gyms who have shown an interest in using the same system with their membership.
“Before we introduced the new system, we had around 3,000 VIP members. But adding their bonus points and offers was a laborious process. The new system simply scans them and does it automatically.
“It’s a powerful system and incredibly flexible. It can be tailored to any group and we can give each person something different if necessary.
“After only three weeks, it is creating a lot of interest, not just from people wanting to be members, but also other businesses who are looking at how it could work for them.
“I’m excited by how successful this could be. Between our team and Venue Marketing, we have worked on the idea with our till system designers PRS- EPOS Systems over in Barrowford.”