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The Halal Guys Uses Loyalty Program to Generate Buzz Around New Locations

The Halal Guys, pioneers of American Halal food, seasoned with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, began in 1990, when the three founders opened a hot dog cart in New York City. As business grew, they recognized a huge demand from Muslim cab drivers looking for a halal food meal and the famous platter of chicken and gyro over rice was born. Fast-forward 25 years and millions of diverse customers have been served. Today, the Halal Guys food cart on 53rd and 6th is the most Yelped about business in New York, and the 3rd most Yelped business in North America.
2014 saw The Halal Guys expand its food cart business with the opening of a brick & mortar proof of concept for franchise development. In 2015, the first franchisee restaurant outside of NYC launched with a store opening in Chicago. With 38 restaurants today, and more than 350 The Halal Guys restaurants now in development, The Halal Guys is growing fast, and franchising worldwide.
With a passionate fan base willing to wait in lines that wrap around buildings, The Halal Guys wanted to launch a rewards program to capitalize on that interest. The goal was to be able to capture customer and purchase data, then leverage that data to create and execute sales growth campaigns to ensure continued success for the brand. The Halal Guys also wanted to establish a communication channel to engage customers directly. Most importantly, The Halal Guys needed its rewards program to align with both its popular brand and its cult-like following of passionate fans. The solution also needed to be fast – to keep lines moving. And the marketing team sought the ability to target offers only to customers who needed an additional motivator to change their behavior. 
“We needed a loyalty offering that was fast and flexible enough to match the brand and culture of The Halal Guys, and Paytronix delivered with a solution that gave us all the opportunity of a strong loyalty program without slowing down lines or creating a strain on our limited I.T. support,” said Andrew Eck, director of marketing, The Halal Guys.
Given its food cart roots and accelerated franchisee growth, The Halal Guys has a lean corporate management team — so perhaps the biggest challenge in launching The Halal Guys Rewards was the need to implement it with little to no internal technical support.
After evaluating multiple solutions, The Halal Guys selected Paytronix for its flexibility and control. The method for which the software is integrated to The Halal Guys’ POS system delivers speedy transactions measured in milliseconds with real-time, automated accrual and redemption processing. The program design options provided The Halal Guys with an opportunity to extend its brand experience within The Halal Guys Rewards program by offering a simple benefit statement, easy to enroll process, and a core program that matched its menu mantra, “fewer options, done very well.”
The primary reward is a free platter when 50 points are earned. New members are eligible for a free beverage and receive double points for 30 days simply for signing up. These high-value offers are meant to establish a habit of getting customers into the restaurant several times a month. Guests also earn free platters, special birthday treats, and other exclusive offers. The Halal Guys recognized the need for getting buy in from franchisees. To that end, it initiated a franchisee onboarding program designed to demonstrate the program’s purpose and value.
The program launched with an ambitious goal of having 15,000 registered accounts within a 7 week launch period before to the end of the year. Breaking that goal, 17,000 members were registered, accounting for nearly 50,000 transactions with a rewards card.
Additionally, The Halal Guys are able to use the program to boost membership at new locations. As new locations are opened, emails are sent to members who have signed up with other The Halal Guys restaurants nearby.
“For our grand openings we make a very concerted effort to get people into the rewards program," Eck says. "The Halal Guys has made the rewards program a big part of our grand opening for every location since we launched loyalty. The Paytronix platform makes it easy to introduce something new into the loyalty program, like a rewards event tied to a new opening. This surprise and delight aspect to the program gives something extra to existing members and raises their awareness and excitement about the new location.”
In Washington, D.C., a third regional franchise location was opened in January. Registered members from the two established locations were invited to join the launch of the third, with a special offer only available to them which yielded incredible response. Again in February, The Halal Guys had a new opening for a fourth, clustered location in Orange County, California. Loyalty members turned out in big numbers, with 1,500 new fans enrolled in during the new store opening activities.
The Paytronix loyalty platform is helping The Halal Guys to know and understand guests by tying individuals to their purchase behaviors. It is now able to analyze the data and identify new opportunities to motivate guests toward higher levels of frequency and spend.
The rewards program also helped clarify a misguided view that college students are the Halal Guys’ primary customer. College students do love the brand as a great value for quality, inexpensive food, but Paytronix showed that the evolution to more brick and mortar stores has changed the demographic to an average customer age of 31 years old. The data is helping to change The Halal Guys’ marketing and franchise site selection to focus on other demographics that are the real sales driver. The new loyalty program is giving the data to understand The Halal Guys’ customers and better market to them.
“We’re excited to see how our program will develop and evolve as we expand both our brand and the scope of the Halal Guys loyalty program,” Eck says.
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