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Loyalty Lessons from Local Businesses: How to Make a Truly Personal Pizza

We usually look at big brands when it comes to loyalty.

What are the big players in the market doing to retain their customers and make them into brand advocates? How do they take their best customers and make them even better?

But there are valuable lessons to be learned from small, local businesses that can get passed over. That’s why today, we’re not looking at Domino’s, but instead a small, local pizza joint called Barb’s.

See what this mom and pop shop can teach the big brands about loyalty.


Discounts are an Appetizer

People still love discounts. There’s no doubt about that. That’s what originally got me hooked on Barb’s. After going there about two or three times, the cashier said, “With your discount, the total will be XYZ.”

This discount had taken me by surprise, but she told me that as a frequent customer of the restaurant, they were going to hook me up when I came in. So stoked.

But after eating anywhere a few times, people might want to try something else. After all, other pizza places (especially the major chains) offer coupons and other discounts. We call these rational rewards.

How did Barb’s keep me engaged beyond this?


Personal Pizza

Discounts can only get a company so far. People will go where the discount is if that’s all there is to offer. But Barb’s offered me something more. Barb’s offered a great experience.

Personalization is a big topic right now. It means customizing a product or service especially for a customer. Personalization was actually a big topic of discussion at ShopTalk 2018. Read more about it here. 

Barb’s Pizza gives personal pie a whole new meaning. After a couple more visits, the owner Barry started to engage with me. He asked about my work and the kind of pizza I like. (I like all of it. Pineapple isn’t too shabby, either.)

This felt nice. It made me feel like I wasn’t just any customer. They valued my attention and my business and tried to show it. The next time I saw Barry, he told me to try this delicious looking pizza with sausage. (I stick to only eating Halal so couldn’t try it.)

Nonetheless, Barry took full interest in learning about Halal. Toward the end of the explanation, he told me to bring in Halal toppings if I ever wanted to and he’d throw them on a pizza for me.

What Barry showed me was that he cared about me not only as a customer, but as a person. This is what getting to know the customer is all about.

He also offered to give discounts to my co-workers if I brought them in.

The following week, I brought in two co-workers for lunch. Not only did they get the “Mo Discount”, Barry also brought them over a free basket of wings after he heard them talking about them in line.

Now, our entire office knows about Barb’s pizza. That’s brand advocacy.


Loyalty Isn’t Just a Discount

At the end of the day, I have a million choices of where to get a quick slice for lunch. The staff at Barb’s knows that with the almost unlimited amount of pizza joints nearby, I can go anywhere. This is the age of the customer and the customer lives in a world of unlimited choices.

Barb’s didn’t earn my loyalty by making me jump through hoops to receive points that I could later trade in for prizes. (Chuck E. Cheese’s was so ‘90s.)

It was the owners and workers of the restaurant that were loyal to me by engaging with me, rewarding me, and building my trust. I’m only loyal to this place since they extended their loyalty to me as an individual customer.

If a brand wants to make a customer relationship more valuable, then it is up to the brand to make sure the value for the customer is there. So many brands get caught up in technology and tactics, but at the end of the day, the foundation of brand loyalty is putting the customer needs first.

Read more about putting the customer back in customer loyalty.

Even though Barb’s isn’t a major chain, we can still learn a lot from this local business. People do still like discounts, but to really turn a customer into a brand advocate, you have to put them at the center and give them an experience they won’t find anywhere else.

Muhammad Khan

Muhammad is our Marketing Operations Coordinator. He works closely with the marketing team on campaigns, analyzing data and helping make data-driven decisions. When he's not working behind the scenes to ensure smooth marketing operations at Clarus, he can usually be found going on road trips, photographing exotic cars for Instagram and convincing the team to hold meetings at the ice cream shop.

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