Golden Corral Pittsburgh: Using Loyalty to Stand out as a Franchisee
Standing out among the best of 484 Golden Corral locations is no easy feat. The brand has consistently been ranked as America’s #1 buffet and grill over the past 43 years and was recently named the #1 franchiser by Entrepreneur Magazine. However, the owners of Golden Corral’s Pittsburgh, PA location felt they could take the brand’s commitment to quality, affordable dining even further with a Custom Mobile Loyalty App and Email program from Total Loyalty Solutions. We spoke with operating manager, Tony Medrano, about the role of Mobile Apps and Loyalty Programs in growing a successful franchise location.
The name Golden Corral already brings a lot of recognition, why did you choose to create a custom loyalty program for your location?
You’re right, all franchisees benefit from having a parent company with a good amount of notoriety, but any smart business owner knows that being recognized for quality food and service is only the beginning of running a successful restaurant. If you want customers to choose you over the countless other options, you need to offer more. We provide that “extra” in a number of ways, including exclusive in-app offers and rewards for customers who download our loyalty app.
Why focus on loyalty to grow your business?
We implement a number of tools and services to grow our business, but we really emphasize customer loyalty for 2 main reason
1. From a financial perspective, it’s a numbers game. And as your business grows those numbers become even more significant. There are countless statistics (including our own) to show that a businesses best customers are their existing customers. When a business scales to a certain point, customer retention can be just as important, if not more, than acquisition. Loyal customers visit more frequently, have larger average order sizes, and become your best brand advocates.
2. The double-edged sword of growth and for many franchisees existing within a major brand is that those businesses can lose that hometown feel that helped make them successful in the first place. The Golden Corral brand was built on being a family-friendly, home-style restaurant. It’s very important to our leadership team to focus on aspects of the business that capture those values. The mobile app appeals to our local customers particularly, rewarding them for their patronage and letting them know that despite our size, we’re still a hometown spot.
How important is it for a restaurant to be Mobile friendly?
Quite simply, it’s impossible to compete if your business is not mobile friendly. Even the smallest brick and mortar storefronts have made the transition to mobile apps. It’s what customer’s demand. It’s no longer a question of “if” but “which”.
Why did you choose to work with Total Loyalty Solutions?
We’ve only scratched the surface in discussing offers and promotions, customer retention and marketing initiatives. All of these areas are crucial to running a successful business, but as a restaurant manager they’re just the beginning of what I need to oversee on a day to day basis.
It was important for me to work with a company that I could trust to act like an extra member of our team. Total Loyalty provides more than just technology; they have the knowledge and support to understand what it takes to find success in this industry.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a new manager of a franchise that just opened?
That depends, where did they open (laughs)? In all seriousness, I would say to leverage the franchise’s name to gain exposure and initial visits, but make sure that they’re doing something to set their location apart. We chose to focus on loyalty and have found success with a custom Mobile App, but all new businesses need to find a way to engage with their local customers, and make every new visitor feel like a regular – if they do it right, they will be.