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5 Simple Tips On How To Grow A Restaurant VIP Club
By Alex Makarski

It just hurts me to see restaurants not being able to grow their VIP Club membership as fast as they could have. Having experienced a sluggish growth of their membership, or no grow for a long time, many restaurant owners abandon the whole idea of VIP Club. Almost always, prematurely.

Which is sad. Because there is not a faster, easier, or more profitable way to grow restaurant sales than via a Restaurant VIP Club.

The following is a short and by no means complete list of tips to help you dramatically accelerate the growth of your the VIP Club list and of your restaurant business:

1. Offer a clear benefit

Placing a little fishbowl at the cash register is not enough. Sure, some people will drop their business card in there. But don't expect your guests to line up and trip over themselves at a chance to get on your list. You need to offer a clear benefit to them, a benefit they will realize by joining your VIP Club.

2. Train your staff

You staff should be doing the sales work for your VIP Club. Nothing in this world, including your VIP Club, sells by itself. And your staff will fail, quit, and sabotage your vision unless they believe they can sell what you're asking them to see. Keep it simple and leave no room for improvisation. Write a script, rehearse and role-play it until it becomes automatic and natural.

3. Get a buy-in from your staff

We've seen restaurants where the staff were refusing to sell the restaurant's VIP Club to the patrons because they perceived that to be some sort of a "gotcha", a marketing ploy. Your job as a restaurant owner or manager is to educate and inspire your troops and to help them see the good that your patrons gain from belonging to VIP club.

4. Motivate your staff

Why not set up a contest for your waitstaff and have them compete for the most new VIP Club enrollments? Obviously, you can't have such a competition with no buy-in from your staff in the first place. (See #3 above.)

5. Set up special events

The calendar should be your biggest friend. It gives you virtually endless opportunities to piggyback and capitalize on some major and not-so-major holidays. As I'm writing this, The Mother's Day is just around the corner. Do you have anything special happening at your restaurant that week? No? Boo to you! And if you missed that opportunity, no fear. Because you can always create your own holiday, any day. Go to This Day In History page, pick the month and the date, find an event you could connect to your brand, food, character, heritage or the latest big news items, and create an event around it.

By growing your restaurant's VIP Club membership, you can reduce the need to advertise, have more control over the type of customers you attract, and dramatically improve your the profitability of your restaurant business. And in order to grow the membership fast, you need to follow a few simple (albeit not necessarily easy) rules.

Alex Makarski is Chief Commando of, a restaurant coaching and consulting firm.

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