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Customized Receipts Bring Repeat Customers

Things must happen quickly and accurately for a multi-unit quick-service franchisee. Between having to disseminate information across a large corporate structure and the constant need to drive new business, nothing can afford to slip through the cracks. This was exactly one of the reasons that Bob Grewal, development agent for Subway (, decided that there had to be a better system of operations for his franchises. Grewal owns more than 22 Subway stores and oversees 1,000+ franchised locations in three separate regions spanning from California to Canada.

Subway has more locations worldwide than any other chain; with that comes a unique set of problems, such as communicating information across multiple units in a matter of minutes. “We were finding it difficult to get information out to all of our employees in a timely fashion,” Grewal recalls. “If Subway was doing a promotion, corporate might tell the franchise owners, but that news wouldn’t get to the workers. It was next to impossible to make sure that messages were being relayed to all employees in each of our locations.”

This was particularly frustrating since special offers are one way in which restaurants encourage customer loyalty and repeat business. Grewal knew a solution was needed and in the spring of 2011, he found it with SmartReceipt (, a centrally controlled marketing medium. “I had heard about SmartReceipt from a friend, who had it in his stores,” Grewal states. “We began rolling out the solution in May of 2011 and the entire process took about a month to get it into all of our stores in Southern California.”  

Two-fold benefits
The first issue that SmartReceipt solved for Grewal was the multi-unit cross-messaging dilemma. “Employee communication happens so rapidly in our business, it was hard to get info out to every employee,” Grewall recalls. “With SmartReceipt, the franchisee can send direct messages to workers. When employees punch in or out on the register, the system will take the time clock and add a message with the necessary information.”

This method of communication is far more efficient than the previous system which, according to Grewal, entailed either faxing a memo to each store or posting a message on a communication board and just hoping that everyone would understand it. “Now you don’t have to worry about that,” Grewal asserts. “When Subway is doing a particular promotion, every worker will get a message on their time sheet.”  

This leads to the second advantage that SmartReceipt yields: helping businesses to leverage unique customer transactional data to tailor the most relevant messages and offers to each guest. SmartReceipt allows Subway franchisees to customize coupons for each transaction, in order to connect with customers and bring in repeat business. “We saw immediate effects,” Grewal admits. “In as little as a week, people were bringing back the coupons and repeat customers started coming in at a faster rate. It’s been a big help for us being able to see an increase in business right away and sales are up overall.”   

Easy integration and implementation
Grewal’s Subway locations were able to implement SmartReceipt with little to no hiccups as it works with existing POS systems. “They designed the software to work with our proprietary POS,” Grewal recalls. “Other than the slight learning curve of getting onto a new system, it was a
smooth transition.”   

Since SmartReceipt is a software-only solution, the Subway franchisees could also use the store’s current printers. “Most of our stores use Epson ( printers as their default,” Grewal reveals. “We didn’t have to buy new printers, but some of our franchisees that had older models decided to upgrade to the Epson 5 because it is much faster.”

The next step for the stores in Grewal’s market is to perfect the mix of offers versus information on the receipts themselves. “We don’t want every customer to get an offer,” Grewal explains. “We’re turning the ‘smart’ on in the SmartReceipt and are going to look at every transaction and customize the offer depending on the actual purchase. For example, if it was an order without a drink, the next time we’ll try to get them to buy a beverage by offering a discounted soda.”

SmartReceipt also prints QR codes on receipts that will take customers to online surveys. Those who take the survey are rewarded with a coupon for a free cookie or other incentive to return to a Subway location. “Getting a repeat customer is a very powerful thing,” Grewal muses. “The capability to customize each offer and drive business where we need it, if a particular time is struggling — for example nighttime or breakfast business — that is a
huge help.”
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