February 29, 2016, 10:26 AM

How Farmer Boys grows its mobile customer base

Mobile marketing campaigns increase visits and average order value for fast-casual restaurant Farmer Boys.

Lead Photo

Quick-service burger chain Farmer Boys Food Inc. is beefing up its mobile campaigns.

The restaurant recently decided to focus its loyalty program—called VIF for Very Important Farmer—promotions on its mobile app users.

The goal of Farmer Boys’ mobile campaigns is to increase visits to its restaurants, increase their average spend per order and ultimately drive more profits to its restaurants, says Larry Rusinko, chief marketing officer of Farmer Boys, in a webinar this week hosted by mobile loyalty vendor Punchh Inc. Punchh has run Farmer Boys’ mobile marketing campaigns for about nine months, Rusinko says. Farmer Boys operates 84 locations in California and Nevada.

The mobile marketing campaigns Farmer Boys deploys consists of sending smartphone alerts to consumers who have its app. Consumers earn points every time they make a purchase at a Farmer Boys restaurant and can redeem those points for coupons. Certain marketing offer a high-value reward, such as a free entrée, if customers patronize the fast-food chain more than they normally do. “If they meet that hurdle rate, they would be rewarded,” Rusinko says.

A recent mobile campaign, for example, offered consumers a free entrée if they visited Farmer Boys at least a certain number of times in a 30-day period. Each guest received a different message with the number of times he had to visit a restaurant, based on his current frequency of visits, Rusinko says. Regardless of how many times a customer visited a Farmer Boys restaurant in a month, Rusinko wanted that customer to move up to the next level. For example, if a consumer dined in a Farmer Boys between two and three times a month, the goal for that customer would be to dine in a Farmer Boys between four and five times a month.

“Understanding our customer’s usage, behavioral and demographic information, we’re able to then structure specific campaigns that resonate with all the users,” Rusinko says.

During the 30-day campaign, visit frequency increased 76% across all frequency segments and average spending increased 80%, Rusinko says. The cost of the campaign was small compared to the increased sales, Rusinko says, who declined to share specifics.

“It’s something we are going to continue to do much more,” Rusinko says about mobile campaigns with a stretch goal.

Consumers need to take a picture of their receipt in the app so Farmer Boys will know when they dined and how much they spent. Consumers caught on quickly to taking a picture of their receipt, Rusinko says. The harder part was training restaurant workers to inform customers of the campaign, he says. Farmer Boys sent restaurant managers an Internet learning module that included videos explaining how employees should talk about and promote the app, Rusinko says.

If a certain restaurant is struggling, Farmer Boys can also send out a marketing campaign that targets consumers in that location, Rusinko says.

Besides this campaign, Farmer Boys also deployed a mobile marketing campaign three months ago to solicit guest feedback via emoticons. In the three months since its launch, the feedback Farmer Boys received increased 88% per week, Rusinko says. This feedback is then shared with the general managers at the restaurants, Rusinko says.


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