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Entrepreneurs Panel

Richard O'Sullivan
Laura Tenison
Brian Hay
Julie Meyer
Charlie Mullins
Jennie Johnson
Tony Caldeira
Jeremy Roberts
Michael Oliver
David Pollock
Debbie Pierce
Steve Purdham

Loyalty scheme

Richard O'Sullivan

Founded Millie’s Cookies in 1985 and went on to sell the Bury-based chain to catering giant Compass in 2003 for £24 million. In 2007 he signed an agreement with Boost Juice Bars – an Australian-based juice chain – to operate its UK outlets. The tenth Boost unit opened in the UK in Bristol in June 2009. O’Sullivan has been chairman of the Liverpool bar chain Baa Bar since 2006 and the Mexican food chain Barburrito since October 2008.

Question: 

I run a small chain of restaurants but business has been pretty slow since Christmas, so I was thinking about starting some sort of loyalty scheme. I’m worried, though, that it will make my competitors think I can’t cut the mustard. What should I do?

Answer: 

I suspect you are unnecessarily concerned about your competitors; they are quite likely up against it also. If you don’t have an existing customer “loyalty scheme” you are losing out on many opportunities to build better communications and loyalty with the lifeblood of your business.

In this digital era great loyalty schemes are managed online, with huge potential for building onto your existing business. Most great brands will use loyalty schemes to help with retaining their customers.

Repeat business is hugely important to our success. Our VIBE Club Card at Boost Juice Bars has a global following of millions and is one of our most valuable communications, sales and marketing tools.

Businesses like Groupon. com are flying in the States and gaining traction over here. My only advice would be to constantly trial different ideas and to avoid becoming too entrenched in this form of marketing.

Consistently providing great quality, service, cleanliness and value for money are the enduring qualities of any successful catering business.

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