Rewarding customers for their loyalty
Punch cards and programs proven valuable for small businesses

By Katherine Michlets - Freeman Staff

March 4, 2017

WAUKESHA - When customers come to the counter at Roots Coffeebar & Café with a filled punch card, co-owner Hilary DeVries can see the excitement on their faces.

“It gets people coming back and it gets people trying different drinks,” she said.

The owner of coffee shops in Oconomowoc and Waukesha said people can fill their punch cards with coffee or tea drink purchases, which generally run about $2, and then can get the 13th item of their choosing for free — even if that’s a large dirty chai latte or something else fancier than they would normally drink. DeVries said sometimes when a customer is turned on to a new beverage it will become part of their routine drink order.

Ayhan Munzur, owner of Café de Arts in Waukesha, also has seen positive results from offering punch cards for coffee beans, lattes and sandwich purchases. “People like those kinds of punch cards or special deals,” he said. “It does help to make more sales.”

According to a worldwide survey done by the Nielson Company in 2013, 61 percent of respondents said the retailers at which they shop offer a loyalty reward program. And 76 percent of the respondents said they are more likely to shop at a retailer that offers a loyalty reward program.

DeVries said she likes the program being referred to as a “loyalty reward program” because it is about showing appreciation for customers’ repeat business.

“It’s a little perk for their day. You can see that it makes them happy to get their 13th,” DeVries said.

She said when people start to accumulate punches they will keep coming in to fill the card and when the coffee shop is out of punch cards, they are disappointed, even if they offer to punch a replacement card, such as a business card.

Roots Coffeebar & Café started the loyalty rewards program when it first opened its Oconomowoc store in August 2011.

The only con Roots has encountered with its punch card was one time when someone was duplicating their stamp to make “fake” punches. Overall, DeVries thinks the program is a benefit to her business.

“I think it’s just a common thing to have now,” she said. “I think people really appreciate that reward out of it.”

Munzur said offering a loyalty rewards program creates a good feeling with the customers.

“That way you have repeat customers and a regular customer base,” he said.

Although the free drink or sandwich could be considered a financial loss, Munzur said if you look at the benefits, such as repeat customers and price of advertising, you are making a lot of money.