Two Pizza Chains Share Their Loyalty Program Secrets

  • Round Table Pizza and Mountain Mike’s Pizza use loyalty programs and rewards to build lasting and meaningful connections with their customers.
  • In Newsweek’s list of America’s top restaurant loyalty programs, Round Table Pizza led the pizza category and placed No. 3 overall by giving their customers the “royal” treatment.

Related: Experts sound off on creating a pizzeria loyalty program

By Tracy Morin

It’s no small feat to land a spot on Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Loyalty Programs 2022, and Round Table Pizza graces the list twice: No. 1 in the pizza category and No. 3 in restaurants overall. The award, presented by Newsweek and Statista, is given to brands based on an independent survey taken by more than 4,000 U.S. customers who are members of loyalty programs of retailers or service providers. In total, about 20,000 evaluations were collected, and customers were given the opportunity to evaluate various loyalty programs based on six criteria: Likelihood of Recommendation, Ease & Enjoyment, Benefit, Overall Satisfaction, Customer Support, and Trust.

How would you stack up in those categories? If you fear your loyalty program is not yet up to snuff—or if you’ve never offered a loyalty program and are considering adding one—lean into these lessons from Round Table and another top-performing loyalty provider, Mountain Mike’s Pizza. 

The Player: Round Table Pizza, Los Angeles, CA
(410-plus locations)

Credentials: Since launching the Round Table Royal Rewards Program in 2019, customers have flocked to sign up to “receive the royal treatment.” From 2020 to 2021, loyalty membership grew by 90% and, as of the fourth quarter 2021, loyalty platform Punchh reported Round Table Pizza ranked in the 80th percentile of QSR brands and the 85th percentile among pizza brands in terms of participation of active members.

How it works: The value-driven rewards program welcomes guests from the start with an offer of a free order of Twists, a Round Table Pizza signature item. Along with receiving points per purchase to redeem for rewards, fans regularly receive a slice of the pie with piping hot deals for the likes of National Pizza Day, Pi Day, Halloween and more. Consumer touchpoints are also a priority, with the program boasting an integrated experience across platforms and regular communication with guests to ensure they take advantage of their rewards.

Keys to success: “We attract customers to our loyalty program by staying true to the key pillars we built the rewards program around,” notes Warwick McLaren, vice president of omnichannel marketing at FAT Brands, which includes Round Table Pizza. Here, McLaren lists and explains these pillars in his own words:

A strong/engaging signup offer. Our brand is built around providing value to our customers, so it’s only natural that we offer an incentive to drive our fans to sign up to become Round Table Royal Rewards member. To attract customers, the incentive must be thoughtful and have a high enough perceived value to encourage new member signup. We offer our customers six free Garlic Parmesan Twists—our No. 1 selling appetizer—upon registering. Rather than applying to a future order, guests can apply the free reward on the same transaction. We find that this user experience is what drives high repeat-order intent.

Communication tailored to each loyalty member. Personalized communication allows our messaging to cut through the clutter of inboxes and newsfeeds on social media, so that members see relevant content with offers specific to their purchasing habits. With consumers being exposed to countless brands and their messaging every day, it’s important to be strategic in what you share so that it resonates with customers versus being overwhelming. Also, loyalty callouts/upsells to our database via web, email and social are low-cost and are highly trackable so we can easily assess what type of offers are moving the needle.

Promoting on the best real estate. While you don’t want to be too forceful with encouraging signup, take advantage of the best real estate that you have—the food. We have loyalty language incorporated on our pizza boxes and cups to make customers aware of the program while they are waiting for/enjoying food. We also promote the program on our tables.

“It’s important to be strategic in [your brand messaging] so that it resonates with customers versus being overwhelming.”
— Warwick McLaren, FAT Brands

 

The Player: Mountain Mike’s Pizza, Newport Beach, CA
(250-plus locations)

Credentials: In 2021, Mountain Mike’s introduced the Mountain Rewards mobile app and loyalty program, which was designed to reward loyal guests and build more meaningful connections with fans through personalized offers suited to their individual needs. Membership quickly grew after its mid-year introduction, and the company expects to have as many as 250,000 loyalty members by this year’s end.

How it works: “Consumers expect to be rewarded for their continued patronage and loyalty,” notes Carol DeNembo, vice president of marketing for Mountain Mike’s. “Additionally, you want to stay competitive—not just as a pizzeria, but being in the restaurant business in general. Having a loyalty program helps not only build brand loyalty, but it can also help fuel more frequent visits and higher average checks. It also helps us learn more about who our guests are, their ordering preferences and purchasing behavior, which allows us to deliver a more personal experience.” Mountain Mike’s also communicates its calendar and offers well in advance to all restaurant locations so the teams are engaged and ready for those redemptions.

Keys to success: In her own words below, DeNembo outlines the following as key practices to encourage signups:

Money talks. To help encourage guests to join our loyalty program, we award new members $5 just for downloading the app and registering. We include promotional signage in restaurants around this incentive, use team member suggestive selling scripts, highlight the loyalty program on our home page with a call to action to join, and promote on social media. We have also developed app-exclusive offers, which our guests find very appealing.

Check out the competition. There was a full competitive analysis conducted that allowed us to understand what other brands offered to encourage downloads/subscriptions. Mountain Mike’s has a strong check average, and we wanted the incentive to be compelling relative to our brand and based on what we were seeing competitively.

Try a sweepstakes. We leveraged a partnership with the San Francisco 49ers to reach a very strong demographic for Mountain Mike’s—sports and football fans—and introduced a Score Big Sweepstakes. If and when the 49ers scored exactly 49 points during a regular-season game, Mountain Mike’s would award three lucky Mountain Rewards app members $75,000 each.

Serve notice. We highlight our $5 welcome offer through in-restaurant promotional signage and on our website, promote it on our social media platforms, run targeted CTV commercials, advertise through the app stores and on YouTube, and also include info through direct mail marketing. When we have app-exclusive offers, we tap into our eClub (non-loyalty members) database to help encourage them to download and join our loyalty club. Our guests and app members love exclusive in-app offers—when we’ve offered these, we always see a jump in not only membership but also engagement.

Tie in special events. We tested our first app-exclusive offer during Cyber Monday 2021. At the time, it garnered our highest numbers of subscriptions for a single day. Then, in March, we celebrated National Pi Day with an exclusive in-app offer of a $3.14 small one-topping pizza, valid only on March 14. We saw a 140% single-day app download growth and saw total same-store sales grow by 13.52%! The signup offer is quite strong and continues to work for us a year into our launch. Additionally, from a point-of-purchase perspective, we’ve added QR codes to all guest-facing material that directs guests to the Apple or Google app stores to make downloading our app easy and convenient.  

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor and the editor of PizzaVegan.com.

Related: Why customers might be suspicious of your loyalty program