For QSRs, Loyalty Solutions Offer a Range of Tactics for Guest Acquisition, Retention


For QSRs, Loyalty Solutions Offer a Range of Tactics for Guest Acquisition, Rete

The stakes are growing in the QSR loyalty space. Starbucks' announcement that one in four transactions are completed using a Starbucks card or app signals some best practices in the space. The use of its card and smartphone app by customers has brought an ease of use, allowing customers an easy purchase and access to rewards.

In the loyalty space, there are many providers that are vying for restaurant business using different platforms and methodologies.

Here, Quick Serve Leader looks at three solution providers: Heartland Loyalty, Paytronix and RewardMe. Although each of them has built full solutions around retaining and rewarding customers, each provider is doing so on its own turf, using its own competitive advantage and range of complementing technology.

Heartland Payment Systems' Gift Marketing Program

In November 2008, Heartland acquired Chockstone, a loyalty and gift card company based in Portland, Ore. Chockstone's chief, Jeff Lipp, is now Executive Director for Gift and Loyalty, and the rest of the original management team was also retained. Heartland Payment Systems, which had been serving the industry for decades as a well-known payment processor, gained a big asset in moving loyalty forward.

Tony Ventre, Heartland's senior marketing strategist - Restaurant Industry, says his company offers a program that causes "introspection" for restaurateurs. Ventre says it's important for restaurateurs to understand the goals of their loyalty programs.

"What are you trying to do to create loyalty?" he asks. "Are you trying to get email registrations? Are you trying to get repeat customers? New customers? Or maybe all of that? If so, we can help with that."

A benefit of the Heartland Gift Marketing Program is that customers can immediately use the deep expertise of the Heartland team to build successful marketing initiatives.

"They have a real point of contact," he says of the company's loyalty customers. "We immediately engage them in a conversation about building their program." Aside from offering a full suite of gift and loyalty cards, payment integration and tracking, Heartland Loyalty bills itself as a marketing partner for restaurateurs, offering a turnkey marketing solution.

In a follow-up statement to our interview with Ventre, the company said this about full mobile payment integration: "Heartland will soon be releasing enhancements to its terminals that enable NFC [near-field communications] acceptance and we are looking to make enhancements to our Mobuyle applications with loyalty for merchant and consumer use."

The company's initial release of Mobuyle for Android does include Heartland Gift Marketing (HGM) as well as "card present, card not present and Heartland Give Something Back (GSB)," according to Heartland.


"Some of the stores running the RewardMe Platform are experiencing one out of three customers participating in the rewards program." Marc Huey, RewardMe.

RewardMe offers a full loyalty solution through it tablet-based customer acquisition program. QSRs station tablets near points of sale to quickly capture customer information and register them into their programs.

Customers can register in-store and then receive text or email message confirmations to finish enrollment.

Mountainview, Calif.-based RewardMe builds the software behind the loyalty program and is working to build a complementary solution that can interface with existing loyalty solutions. According to data provided by Marc Huey, sales and accounts director for RewardMe, the average cost for a 2-POS store can be below $1,500. A recurring per loyalty-user fee is layered over the initial startup cost.

RewardMe's analytical tools for helping restaurants understand customers’ purchasing behavior has indicated that loyalty customers have a 10 percent higher average check than non-loyalty customers, and 18 percent of loyalty customers frequent restaurants at least twice per week.

"Some of the stores running the RewardMe Platform are experiencing one out of three customers participating in the rewards program," says Huey.


Paytronix has worked with top quick serve companies, like Panera Bread, to create loyalty programs that are distinctive. In Panera's case, the loyalty program records and analyzes purchasing behavior, offering its 8.3 million guests rewards that may be more suitable for them.

In a recent conference call with analysts, Panera Bread Chief Executive Bill Moreton said that the company attributed higher comps in September of this year to the communication of a seasonal promotion in advance of its start to loyalty customers.

Paytronix has worked with La Madeleine French Country Cafe on its reward program. There, customers use a prepaid loyalty card to purchase goods. A percentage of the sales derived from loyalty customers goes to a charity the customer has pre-selected.

"It's a very cool program because the charitable tie attracts certain types of customer and makes them feel very good," says Paytronix President Andrew Robbins.

With a majority of QSR customers plugging themselves into social media on a daily basis, it's no surprise that QSRs are looking to build a brand presence there and turn social media into customer retention and acquisition. Paytronix's social gifting program allows friends to give each other products of tangible value through Facebook, Twitter and email.

A customer can give another customer a meal at a restaurant using points, cash or a combination of those. Restaurants can also offer guests' friends rewards in exchange for loyalty sign-up. All of this can be handled through social media, and the restaurant can choose how to handle the acquisition piece.

Often, in a gifting situation that the customer has initiated, restaurants will opt for more subtle ways of obtaining loyalty enrollment sign-up from the guest, but it spans the spectrum. "It's easier to give something to a friend instead of a coupon or something in a circular," says Robbins. "You can prepay a meal for my friend, maybe even at a discounted rate."

Paytronix also taps into the mobile app space, building loyalty apps for restaurants and offering an API that restaurants can use to add loyalty functionality to existing apps. Robbins tells us that customers updating their phones would see the enhancement as seamless, for example, as an update to an existing ordering app, providing the restaurant chain a seamless enhancement of its app's functionality and the chain's marketing program.

The Waltham, Mass. loyalty solutions company has also built solutions around the popular Foursquare location-based space (LBS) check-in app, giving restaurants the ability to tie in location with prepayment loyalty use, promotional marketing around Foursquare and Foursquare's own competition-driven game functionality. Metrotainment cafes, a restaurant group that operates namesake bakeries, Sugar Shack quick serve outlets and other casual and fine dining concepts has implemented this LBS solution.

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Copyright: Kandessa Media. All rights reserved.

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