Cultivating brand loyalty is a key component to running any successful restaurant, but implementing it is easier said than done. Despite the difficulties, one brand thinks it has the process figured out. Togo's Sandwiches, a 300-unit fast casual chain based on the West Coast, is using mobile technology to showcase its sandwiches across the country. It's been using targeted Facebook advertising, eClub-tracking and also has a new mobile app, Tribe, that rewards customers when they use it at Togo's.
Although Tribe has 175,000 members, said Leslie Lopez, Togo's senior brand manager, integration isn't easy as evidenced by some customer's low ratings of the app. One user said the app was "... a good way to drive your customers away," another stating that "[i]f there were better food options near the office I'd be done with this." The app currently has a rating of 1.5 stars on ITunes and 3.2 stars on Google Play.
Lopez isn't worried, however, considering the brand already has a plan in place to respond to improve the experience.
"We are currently looking into a custom/native app that we hope will accomplish all of our mobile goals; online ordering, rewards/loyalty, gift/stored value cards and CRM," she said.
The proof is in the pudding
Despite a few customer complaints, franchisees said the app has already led more traffic and higher sales, Lopez said.
"We had an early launch group of locations that were eager to start the program. A business case was built using this group's data and the proof was in the pudding," she said.
FastCasual interviewed Lopez on the strategy behind the mobile app implementation and how the loyalty program is helping the brand grow.
FC: Did you already have a loyalty program in place before creating Tribe? If so, how does the new loyalty platform differ from the old?
Lopez:If you consider a frequency punch card (buy 10 sandwiches get the 11th free) then yes, we had a program in place. Moving to our Loyalty/Rewards app based program has allowed us to create a program that can not only track guest behavior, but engage with them in a much more personal way. Guests can use the app to track their points and rewards, find a location and obtain location related information like restaurant hours, contact phone number and driving directions. We can reach out to guests on their birthdays with offers and surprise and delight them throughout the year with promos and rewards. Not only does the program create more opportunities to engage with our guests it greatly reduces the rate of fraud that can be found with many punch card programs.
FC: Why have you decided to make these enhancements?
L:Well, really the Togo's Tribe Rewards program is twofold. One, it allows us to track guest behavior and entice extra visits. And two, it provides our guests with incentives for their Loyalty to our brand and encourage them to visit us over another destination.
FC: How will you get customers to learn about it and join?
L: We have a number of channels we are communicating the program:
Strong in-restaurant presence for the program promoted in POP and by our crew members.
Communication via social channels with a Refer a Friend program.
FC: What was the investment...what is the ROI?
L:We have found that Rewards guests spend more than the average Togo's guest and visit more frequently. When doing the math over a year you are looking at about a +$20,000 to the bottom line. The program is integrated with our POS and/or credit card processors to very little startup costs. There is a monthly fee for the full program (loyalty/rewards and gift).
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