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Uncle Julio’s Drives 50% Increase in Loyalty Registrations

Uncle Julio’s opened in Dallas in 1986 and has grown to 27 restaurants across 7 states: Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee. Uncle Julio’s offers a unique culinary experience of savory, made from scratch Mexican favorites created from the highest quality of ingredients, from sizzling fajitas to Uncle Julio’s signature Chocolate PiÑata, a rich chocolate shell, bursting with fresh seasonal fruit and handmade churros.
Uncle Julio's designed its new loyalty program to focus on big spending—and by extension, to incentivize both small and large group visits. Rewards are designed to be big and memorable and to inspire guests to come redeem them with friends who’ll join the party. Upon reaching gold level, members receive an "App Buffet," a reward redeemable for appetizers for up to 15 people during one visit. This encourages large group visits, and corresponding large check totals. Redeeming loyalty rewards causes a ripple effect with guest registration, as friends who came in for the App Buffet say, “Can I get that too?”
Although the successful launch of Uncle Julio’s Amigo Especial Loyalty Program had accrued a solid member base, an analysis of the initial program results made it clear that the next challenge was to boost enrollment and membership. Uncle Julio’s saw that Loyalty members were spending more than unregistered guests, therefore increasing membership in the program meant more happy guests redeeming rewards and incremental sales for Uncle Julio’s.
Uncle Julio’s management targeted the busy holiday season to expand enrollment with a membership drive. With a goal to increase total loyalty membership and registration, Uncle Julio’s needed a means to motivate more servers to encourage guests to join the program. The employee-focused Registration Drive rewarded servers with prizes for signing up new loyalty program members.  
With Paytronix, the team can analyze data on loyalty signups based upon percentage of total sales attributed to individual servers, as the software associates loyalty checks with cashier IDs. Uncle Julio's simply compared the loyalty checks to the total number of checks each server handled in order to see the total number of new signups. This ensured that Uncle Julio’s could provide a level playing field for those working full time as well as part-time. Weekly updates provided store managers with details of how their store and employees were doing.
“Having accountability down to the level of each server was the key to being successful with guest signups," said Paul Marrero, System Administrator, Uncle Julio’s. "Servers are busy, and we certainly didn’t want our employees to be forcing the program on guests. We had to incent them and adjust the behavior of servers who weren’t talking about the program. That made it much, much more successful.”
Weekly cash bonuses were awarded to those who finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in loyalty signups by store/location. Servers also earned raffle tickets for bigger, global prizes across the entire Uncle Julio’s chain, such as Apple smartwatches and big-screen TVs, which proved to be an effective motivator. Uncle Julio’s gave away $15,000 in total prizes. Manager prizes were given for the store that had the highest number of signups overall as well.
“Our servers that were most successful pitching the loyalty program were the ones serving large tables," Marrero said. "They might have one check, but they could get six, eight, or 10 signups. By making servers the focus of our campaign, Uncle Julio’s incentivized them to talk with that bigger group of people, including people who aren’t regulars yet but came in to dine with their friends, and the registrations snowballed from that.”
On average, 28 stores each registered 2,000 people during the promotional period. Approximately, 54,000 new guests signed up during the three-month campaign – a more than 50% increase over the 100,000 guests already enrolled and 47,000 of those new loyalty members completed a full registration for a registration rate above 90% during this drive.
“We now have daily activity reports from Paytronix, giving check-level detail associated to our loyalty accounts, all reconciled with Aloha. This level of loyalty detail allows the Uncle Julio's team to perform and leverage in-house analytics that simply wouldn’t be possible without Paytronix.”
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