The vaunted loyalty card is a tradition at many restaurants, despite the fact it might not be the best thing for them. It seems that a pair of Washington, DC people have come up with the opposite: the disloyalty card.
Eater has reported on a new concept. Encouraging customers to go to different coffee shops and try a variety of drinks from various baristas, customers will be rewarded with a free drink once they’ve gotten their card stamped at Blind Dog, Chinatown Coffee, The Coffee Bar, Filter, La Mano, and Peregrine Espresso. They’ll take the card to (ideally) the place where they had the best-tasting coffee, bestowing that coffee shop with the visceral feel of being best out of six.
I think for baristas, one of the things we want to do well is connect with customers over coffee in a way that makes customers excited, and that makes them feel good about going into coffee shops,” she said. “I hope the card is a fun way for D.C. coffee lovers to sort of explore different shops and engage with the people making coffee.
It’s an interesting proposal, as it effectively encourages restaurants to drive sales elsewhere. At the same time, it works because it’s a major community-builder; no restaurant or coffee shop exists in a vacuum, and while you may be out for yourself, there’s no harm in making friendship and allies with competitors. You never know when your restaurant might need help from a competitor, whether it be buns in a pinch, a stack of cups, or even work together with a competitor to have a live event that no one restaurant can support by themselves.
Now, the disloyalty card has the same problems as the loyalty card. Stores don’t keep a track of what kind of drink they’ve ordered, what they might have eaten with it, and more. It does come with the benefit of being a clear marker of which place might be the favorite.
Is this a concept you could introduce at your restaurant? Naturally, you’d have to work with local businesses, and ideally for competition sake, some of a similar kind. If anything, it’s a way to encourage at least one purchase at each restaurant, and the cost is rather low, as you only would have to invest in the cards and the occasional free drink for someone who chooses yours as the best.
Naturally, the concept does not have to be limited to coffee drinks; it would work the same if you decided to use it for sandwiches, burritos, tacos, and more. Find something that you’re really proud of at your restaurant and that enough local restaurants focus on that it’d be a fun competition between restaurants.
If anything, if you end up giving the most free product away, then you’ve got a nice bit of pride for your restaurant.