Jon Gonzalez Director of Business Development and Strategic Loyalty Sales at Clipper Magazine and Total Loyalty Solutions. We sat down with Jon for a quick interview on:
- How new technology is impacting the restaurant & hospitality industries (good and bad)
- When customer retention becomes even more important than acquisition (especially for SMBs)
- His personal recommendations for using print + digital advertisement to drive revenue
- How he plans to use this info in his new role (the major release from Total Loyalty Solutions)
Abridged Transcript Below
You’ve been with the Total Loyalty Solutions since the beginning and have generated more business for the company and our clients than anyone else (and that’s just coming from what we’ve been able to measure quantitatively). I know that countless colleagues and clients routinely come to you for questions just like these, so I’m really excited to be able to get them in a format that can be shared broadly.
Haha, thanks Roddy. I assure you that I’m even more excited than you are. You’re right, I’ve been with Total Loyalty Solutions from the start and I’m thrilled to be in a position where I will be able to have a greater impact for our company and clients.
Two notes before we start and then I’ll promise to get into your questions. First, on the need to measure both qualitative and quantitatively – we’ll be coming back to that with your questions on the ways in which technology is changing industry. Second, on colleagues and clients. Honestly, those relationships are often more similar than different. I firmly believe that sales is a service. When I’m working with a client or prospect, we’re working on the same team and I’m proud to say that so many of the sales professionals at Clipper and Total Loyalty Solutions feel the same way.
Thanks Jon, now I’m going to ask you to expand on that with my first question. We’ve had numerous discussions about this, and this question alone could take all of our time. So, I’m going to ask you to narrow it down. What are the 2 biggest ways new technology is impacting the hospitality & restaurant industries:
I think convenience has to be number one. Consumers can now find information, place orders, make reservations and just about everything else right from their phones. We’ve seen major food corporations report that they now consider themselves to be technology companies, and more and more consumers are making use of these conveniences than ever before.
This goes hand in hand with number two: data. It has become much easier for businesses to know who their customers are, along with very detailed purchasing behaviors. Used correctly, this information allows businesses to use these consumer insights to create more appealing offers and strengthen customer relationships.
Both convenience and data can be a huge benefit to both businesses and consumers, but that’s only if they choose to use them. Just a few years ago these types of advances were only available to the companies who could pay to play, but the financial barriers to entry have been significantly reduced. Just about any business can afford their own app these days; they just need to make sure that it’s one that their consumers will want to use.
When does the customer retention piece become just as important as acquisition?
In many situations it becomes even more important than acquisition. There are countless statistics available to show higher average ticket amounts, orders and visits from repeat customers. Those numbers can be substantially higher among loyal customers. Additionally, think about the local restaurant in a small town, there’s a limit to how many new customers they can really bring in. At some point, their marketing resources are much better spent on customer retention as opposed to trying to bring in new visitors.
What’s a good way for them to ensure those customers keep coming back?
A quality experience for their guests is always number 1. After that, they need a way to keep their customers engaged. That can become increasingly difficult in today’s world of distractions. My most general suggestion is to find a way to make it easy for their customers to support them. In most cases, Convenience + Quality = Loyalty.
That’s a great segue to my next question. There are so many advertisement channels these days, and so many options for consumers. Do you have a basic system that you recommend to businesses to use these channels in a way that won’t drain their resources?
Sure. Now, it’s important that I first mention this is general. When I’m working with a client I take their specific situation into consideration before making a much more detailed recommendation, but I always recommend complementing print with digital channels.
Print advertisements are still incredibly effective, but businesses can (and should) use both channels to promote one another. That’s why all our own clients receive in-store print collateral to promote their mobile apps. I think of it this way, their app has all the features that their consumers want to have available to them, so why wouldn’t they advertise it everywhere they can?
Often times, I suggest using a more traditional print advertisement as the acquisition piece along with promotion on social media channels (Facebook banners are particularly popular and free). This is the first time a consumer will see that a business has a mobile app.
The app is the retention piece. This is where businesses can increase engagement, strengthen customer relationships and increase loyalty with targeted offers and promotions.
Businesses don’t have to be on every social media channel or pay for every advertisement opportunity they can. That’s just not realistic for the majority of SMBs with limited resources. My recommendation is to keep it simple, find a few effective channels that can be managed effectively and double-down on those efforts. A reliable customer engagement system across a few advertisement channels beats being spread too thin across many. Quality is always better than quantity.
What about businesses without a mobile app?
I recommend trying to create a similar type of loyalty program and making sure that their customers know about it. Have a competition with their staff to see who can get the most loyalty program sign-ups and reward customers for their patronage; send emails; post on social media channels. Just about anything they can do to stay relevant to the customer. The engagement aspect is incredibly important to customer loyalty, so those businesses have to find a way to implement that.
How are you planning to use everything we’ve covered so far in your new role with Clipper and Total Loyalty Solutions? What are you most excited about?
That’s the easiest questions so far. The new Advanced Rewards programs from Total Loyalty Solutions. Four years ago, we were one of the first companies to make mobile app technology accessible to SMBs. Since that time, we’ve added online ordering capabilities, email marketing, and now points-based rewards with advanced customer insights and direct point of sale integration for compatible systems.
We’ve spent the last several months testing and refining this with a number of our existing merchants. The feedback has been fantastic from both business and consumers; and we’ve made the necessary adjustments to improve the features even further. Now, we’re ready to officially release Advance Rewards and I can’t wait to see how businesses are able to capitalize using our technology.
Where should people go if they want more information on anything you mentioned today?
Contact us through the site or request a demo, or connect with myself and the Total Loyalty Solutions team more directly on LinkedIn. Of course, we have the traditional Facebook and twitter channels as well. Our team of specialists is always happy to discuss these topics.