In an era when businesses work hard to inspire brand loyalty, the Disloyalty concept is counterintuitive.
But in Sooke four restaurants have joined together in a promotion where they encourage their customers to be disloyal and to take at least some of their business to another restaurant.
The Disloyalty Card is a novel concept that was first suggested by David Evans, the general manager of the Stick in the Mud Coffee Shop.
Evans assembled three other local restaurants – the Little Vienna Bakery, the Road to Sooke Café, and the Artisan Garden – to join with the Stick to help promote local business by encouraging customers to try more than just their favourite eating place.
Customers are given a Disloyalty Card that operates like the standard loyalty cards to which we’ve all become accustomed. But there’s a twist.
Every purchase earns the customer a stamp on the card and after 10 stamps they can redeem the card for a free product at the restaurant.
The catch with the Disloyalty Card is that each of the four restaurants has a different colour stamp, and to redeem the fully-stamped card, customers need to visit at least two of the four participating establishments.
“It’s great. People are loving it,” said Carol Christie, the manager of the Little Vienna Bakery.
“I like to think of it as not so much a customer sharing program as it is a customer awareness promotion.”
Christie said each restaurant has a similar challenge in letting customers know that they exist.
“These are all diamond in the rough sort of businesses, sort of out of the way. We’re the kind of places that have great food, but unless you know about us, you may never stop here.”
Each of the restaurants started with 125 cards and since the promotion started Christie said her shop has distributed almost all of her stash of cards.
“We have a few left, but I suspect we’ll be giving them all out soon,” she said.
Over at the Artisan Café owner Gwen Fisher is equally enthusiastic about the disloyalty idea.
“We’re off the main drag and I can understand why people weren’t stopping in spontaneously. This has brought in some new customers who now know that we’re here and that we’ve got some pretty terrific food,” said Fisher.
“This is very typical of Sooke, though. It’s businesses supporting businesses, and it’s a lot of fun.”
That assessment is shared by April Crooks at the Road to Sooke Café.
“It’s going very well. People are a little confused at first with the title, but once they get it, they say it’s great.”
Geraldine Flatager, a loyal customer at the Little Vienna Café, admired her card and laughed when the concept was explained to her.
“I love this restaurant. We come here all the time, but I suppose it’s a good idea to try a new place, too. Maybe on Sunday of Monday when they’re closed here.”