An Interview with Devin Handler, Director of Marketing – Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh

Today we are talking with Paytronix power-user Devin Handler, director of marketing, Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, about how his loyalty program is driving more sales and visits.

Listen to the Paytronix Webinar, “What the Heck Happened: Recapping 2017’s Challenges and Identifying 2018’s Solutions,” to hear more about Garbanzo’s loyalty best practices.

Can you give us some background on the Garbanzo V.I.B. Rewards Club?

Garbanzo has 27 units and approximately 110,000 members segmented into various bands in the V.I.B. Rewards Club. Not all restaurants participate because their POS systems don’t integrate with our Paytronix-powered rewards program. We encourage members to interact with us in whatever way makes them comfortable, whether that’s a physical badge on their key chain or through our mobile app.

At Garbanzo, we believe that simple is best.  And, like the food we serve, our interactions at every touchpoint should be simple, fresh and friendly – including and especially our rewards program. We make it easy for them to join our V.I.B. Rewards Club any way they want – digitally, analog or some combination of both.

In a recent Paytronix Webinar, What the Heck Happened: Recapping 2017’s Challenges and Identifying 2018’s Solutions you cited the importance of a robust ongoing enrollment strategy. Can you elaborate on that?

It has to be easy for guests to join a rewards program. At Garbanzo, we’ve created multiple points of entry to our rewards program with a perceived high value incentive to urge the guest  to join. The whole point of a loyalty program is for customers to do what they were already doing, but get the appreciation for their business that they deserve and get rewarded for it to boot.

To encourage registration at Garbanzo, we have moved special things like deep discounts and surprise and delights exclusively to our rewards program. Posters and POP that say, “members’ only special.” Additionally, we only email special offers to our registered members. We make registration a secondary objective of all our promotions through leveraging “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out.”  Imagine standing in line behind someone and watching them get a free piece of baklava or an organic iced tea for free and wonder why did they get that?  I want that too!

It’s a recognized fact that, for any dynamic list, you will lose approximately one third of your participants in a given year to opt-outs, inactivity, no longer active email address etc. So, you need to be vigilant about constantly feeding the machine. You must do all you can to maintain at least the number of active members you had in the previous year with the goal of increasing that number year over year.

While you have to be ever vigilant on recruiting new members, you also cannot take your eye off customers who are already engaged. More than two thirds of your customers would happily take their business to the competition if you broke your brand promise. It could be as simple as a fly in their hummus. This is why you must create loyalty with great service, plus affinity to grant you a pass for a “moment in time” anomaly.

The Garbanzo loyalty program focuses much of its outreach efforts on the four lowest segments: bronze, lapsing, gone and really gone. Why?

Paytronix really makes the Garbanzo segmentation strategy possible by drastically helping with ease of access. Between our main contact Jesse, and the Paytronix Data Insights team, Paytronix helps us to visualize our statistics and look at our data in a scientific way.

With the help of Paytronix, Garbanzo has created seven customer bands, each designed to meet various levels of engagement. The platinum, gold, silver and bronze bands are based on a member’s level of engagement. Finally, we have three levels for our disengaged members: lapsed, gone and really gone. We also segment for new or “fresh” members.

The lowest hanging fruit is the lapsed bands. We’ve fallen out of their consideration set. Maybe they’ve moved, or it’s something we did or worse – they’ve just forgotten about us. If I can get a lapsed customer in the doors it’s almost as though I have acquired a new guest because they are outside of our normal purchase cycle.

Please describe how you combine banding and messaging mapping to increase the effectiveness of your campaigns?

Once the bands are created, you need to message map the list. You have to know the member purchase habits too so that you are not sending your vegetarians the “Three-Meat” promotion. Instead, you send the vegetarians the “Meatless Monday” promotion and start developing affinity with them. In fact, I can send the vegetarians the Meatless Monday message without an offer. Many now come in two, three or more times a month.

With message mapping, I will send out a Meatless Monday offer with double points that is broken by bands. Here’s how it works:

  • Platinum members get double points for coming in on Meatless Monday.
  • Gold and Silver members get double points too, but if they don’t visit in the first two weeks, I message them again with an offer for quadruple points.
  • Bronze Members get double points, plus a free order of fries.
  • Lapsed Members get double points plus free fries, but if they do not come in by the third week, we sweeten the offer even more with a $5 off bonus.
  • Gone and Really Gone get the double points, free fries and the $5 bonus.
  • Fresh Members get all of the above.

There has to be a campaign flow. With the Bronze and Fresh bands, we wait a period of time and see about visitation. Then send out a second offer to the members who do not come in. At week three, if they still haven’t come in, then you increase the offer.

We like to say that we “inspect what we expect.” If I expect to motivate each band in different ways, then I must optimize the offers in order to get results.

In 2017, despite the supposed “restaurant recession,” Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh saw same store sales increase by 6.5 percent. To what do you attribute this success?

For Fast Casual restaurants, often as much as 60 percent of customers don’t come back after their first visit. Typically, not for any one glaring reason. It’s often death by a thousand cuts. Maybe the consumer value proposition didn’t meet their needs, maybe the bathrooms were not clean, maybe the music was too loud maybe all of these or none of them.  Bottom line is that you must do the brilliant basics first.  Make sure you are meeting the table stakes of competing in today’s crowded Fast-Casual environment. You will never “win” on a clean bathroom … but you will certainly lose over a neglected one.

At Garbanzo, everybody is moving in the same direction. Marketing is engaging and promising, but not over promising. We deliver remarkable experiences in everything we do in every interaction with our brand. The worst thing to be is unremarkable. A guest who has an extraordinary experience, will tell other people. A guest who has a “meh” experience will tell no one and more than likely never return.

The combination of our loyalty program, plus training, plus delicious and nutritious food served in a comfortable, clean environment by people who genuinely want to serve love in every pita equals a remarkable experience with every touchpoint with the Garbanzo brand.

Stephen Stone

The Author
Stephen Stone is a content marketing specialist at Paytronix. With a Bachelors Degree from Fitchburg State University and a Masters in Communication Management from Emerson College, Stephen is well-versed in all things communication.

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