For most restaurateurs, a point-of-sale (POS) system is the most expensive technology investment they will make.  While a POS is crucial for a restaurant to run efficiently, how do you make sure that you’re getting the best Return on Investment (ROI) from it?

To discuss these questions and more, I recently joined a radio show hosted by We Sell Restaurants called “POS Systems – the brain of the restaurant”.   Restaurant Brokers Eric and Robin Gagnon hosted the show, and also invited Jared Isaacman, CEO of Harbortouch POS and Paul Roberts, Next Gen Dine, a mobile POS provider.


Here’re a few excerpts from the interview:

1) Question: What are some of the ways restaurants can use technology to make the most of their POS systems?

Sastry: Restaurants need to find a way to use the information provided by POS systems to improve their relationship with their customers and keep them coming back.

2) Question: What are your thoughts on information, besides sales data, from POS systems and how restaurants can use that data to bring customers back?

Sastry: A POS has a lot of rich data including how many transactions a restaurant processed on a given day or a given week, or how much revenue was generated on a given day or at a specific location. When we are talking about unlocking this information and adding value to it, what we are doing is helping restaurants move from ‘looking at data’ into “understanding customers”. It’s one thing to understand what was sold, for example, 100 burgers in the last hour; it’s another thing to understand that a customer named Samantha is loyal to the restaurant, has come four times within the last month, spends an average of $21 each time, and loves the Garden Burger. This is what we mean when we say “unlocking the information.” It enables restaurants to look at their customers as “people” instead of data. Once restaurateurs understand what a customer likes, they have the opportunity to offer a side dish with his or her regular order at a discounted price or offer the dish on days the customer usually does not come to the restaurant. The goal is to make personalized, 1-1 offers based on what you know about each customer instead of handing out BOGO coupons en masse to all customers.

3) Question: How can a business owner deal with all this overwhelming ways to interact with the customers (gift cards, social media promotions, etc)?

Sastry: In the past, coupons were the only marketing that most restaurants typically did, and there were printing costs and the costs of hiring an agency for creative etc. Coupons are expensive and on top of it, restaurants couldn’t measure how effective they were. While technology nowadays has reduced the costs of delivering these kinds of offers, customers are now being bombarded with offers and have learned to tune them out. Therefore, the challenge for restaurant operators is not so much offering more coupons, but to figure out what are the most relevant offers to each customer and how to offer them at just the right time. Platforms like mobile CRM enable restaurants to tailor offers to each customer , deliver them at the right time, and track their effectiveness.

4) Question: Is there an apprehension from the consumers or restaurant operators about security and hacking the data from digital wallets?

Sastry:  Absolutely, consumers are concerned about security of digital wallets but the bigger issue for consumers is that they don’t think that digital wallets provide a much bigger advantage than merely using a credit card. We need to think about the utility of mobile wallets. In order to make digital wallets work, you have to provide an incentive for the consumer to use it.  So tying in specific types of rewards for consumers that are tied to frequency, spend or other special behaviors is critical to driving usage.

To listen to the full interview or to download the podcast,  go to:

Traditional marketing is predictable, calendar-based, and set in stone. It’s about creating promotions for specific events such as the Super Bowl or the Fourth of July.

Nothing wrong with those, but nothing new either.

Dynamic marketing is the opposite.  It reacts to new opportunities, changing circumstances and personal customer preferences to maximize the moment a customer engages with a brand.

Here’s an extreme, yet excellent example:

During the 2013 Super Bowl, the Superdome in New Orleans lost power, leaving the stadium lit only by emergency lights and delaying the game for 34 minutes. Assuming fans everywhere might be bored while waiting for the action to return, the Oreo cookie brand tweeted the message, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The message was retweeted 15,000 times, and the brand’s cadre of Instagram followers leapt from 2,000 to 36,000 followers in one day. Over the next few days, some 150,000 pictures of Oreo cookies being dunked surged through social media channels.


Quick. Relevant. Engaging. These describe dynamic marketing.

Mobile helps you find dynamic marketing oportunities anytime anywhere. Here’s how:

1.  Know every customer – demographics (name, age, gender, marital status, hobbies, likes, etc), transactional information (orders and spend at restaurants), and social media graphs (friends, favorite places, restaurant reviews).

2. Pinpoint a customer’s location. Technologies such as Geo Fencing and iBeacon help you know when a customer is near or enters your restaurant.

3. Execute a 1-1 promotion instantly and automatically. An automated system can send a targeted, customized, and limited-time offer to those customers as they pass by the restaurant. Here’s an example of a dynamic marketing offer:  An ice cream special that targets moms between 3-4pm (just as they are picking up their kids from school), when it’s over 80-degrees outside.

Mobile makes your campaigns not only dynamic, but also fully measurable. Unlike TV, print or radio ads whose response rates are difficult to gauge accurately, mobile-enabled campaigns are targeted, timely, and relevant to your customers. Additionally the response rates are typically 10 times greater than the common 2 percent response rate from email—and 100 percent verifiable.

With targeted push notification campaigns to customers whose preferences are automatically established through recent orders, our clients consistently report 20 to 25 percent customer response rates.

With mobile-enabled dynamic marketing, you can test, tweak, and optimize your campaigns. If an offer doesn’t work well, operators can re-do the campaign by tweaking the offer or the audience within just minutes.

If you want to make your marketing dynamic with mobile, get in touch with us.

We just made the Punchh Dashboard a lot more awesome!  You can manage your customer relationships a lot easier.

Here are some of the cool things you’ll see:

Faster navigation across various screens and detailed views:

Side Navigation Bar - Menu View  Side Navigation Bar - Expanded

Quick summary of all the key statistics about your customers: 

Key Statistics - Tiles

Trends for key program statistics 

Trends For Key Statistics

Deep dive into your customers’ 360° profiles

Customer Profile

Know which devices your customers are using (breakdowns for Android, iOS, and specific devices):

Device Distribution 

Soon we’ll be adding more cool features, such as:

– Total spend from newly referred customers

– ROI from your program and campaigns

– Total bump in sales from the programs

– Custom colors for your dashboard

Go to, and log into the punchh dashboard.  Try it out and let us know what you think, by emailing us at

Today, Punchh is making Real-Time Alerts available to all operators, within its Mobile CRM Platform. With Punchh’s Real-Time Alerts, operators can manage negative word of mouth easily, and turn unhappy customers into happy and loyal customers.

Punchh’s Real-Time Alerts automatically alerts operators in real-time when customers write negative reviews.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Using a restaurant mobile app developed by Punchh, restaurant guests can earn loyalty points and write tweet-sized reviews that they can share with their Facebook friends.
  2. When a customer writes a review, Punchh’s Sentiment Analysis engine automatically scans the incoming feedback, identifies negative reviews, and triggers Real-Time Alerts that are instantaneously forwarded to the restaurant staff and/or managers (operators can select who needs to be notified).  The notifications are sent via SMS, Fax, or Email.  The email contains information about the customer, their comment text, the location and time the comment was left. This will enable you to take corrective measures and ensure customer satisfaction faster than ever before.
  3. Once the staff member get the notification, they can quickly respond to customers via email / push notifications or just walk over to the customer in the store.
  4. After they take corrective measures, they can also gift the customer to compensate for the poor experience.

Punchh - Sentiment Analysis and Real Time Alerts - 010914

So Punchh has just made it dead simple to manage negative word of mouth!!

Everyone loves the perks of great loyalty programs but gets bogged down carrying (and losing) countless punch cards. Thanks to smart phones, any restaurant brand can launch a mobile loyalty program, and engage more customers than they ever could did with traditional punch cards.

Not all loyalty programs are created equal – what works one brand or a specific customer segment doesn’t work as well for another brand or another customer segment.

With Punchh, customizing loyalty programs for specific brands and customer segments is simple, fast, and easy.

Here are a few types of loyalty programs:

Visits-based programs:

Objective:  To drive customer frequency.

What:  Customers get a reward after a certain number of visits – the exact number of visits before a user earns a reward.

What type of brands: For concepts where simplicity of the rewards program is key.  Typically used by QSR brands (incl. Pizza), habit-forming purchases (e.g., coffee).

Best practices:

  • Getting the number of visits for reward eligibility right is key, so that customers feel that the reward is well within reach e.g., 7-8 visits vs 12. Even if the target is 12, the brand can “gift” punches based on other actions such as registering via Facebook etc so that the customer feels that the reward is well within reach.
  • Keeping the number of visits for reward eligibility too low, can result in lower Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Having a minimum spend (e.g., close to the average check size) to be eligible for a punch can also be useful, to prevent very low spenders from getting the same rewards as higher spenders e.g., customers who only order a soft drink

Visit-Based Restaurant Loyalty ProgramsVisit-Based Restaurant Loyalty Programs

Spend-based programs:

Objective:  To drive customer spend

What:  Customers get a reward after a certain amount of spend – e.g,, 5 points for every $100 spend.

What type of brands: For concepts where the menu item pricing varies a lot. Typically used by fast casual and casual dining brands.

Best practices:

  • Tuning the total spend amount for reward eligibility so that it is not so high that it discourages customer participation
  • Keeping the total spend for reward eligibility too low, can result in lower Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Flexibility to redeem different rewards based on the number of points that are redeemed e.g., rewards for 25 points for an appetizer, 50 points for a memorabilia, or 75 points for an entrée etc., versus just having a single reward type after earning. Customers value different things
  • Rewarding only specific day parts or specific menu items can build customer loyalty for less-busy periods


Spend-based restaurant loyalty programs

Tiered-spend based program:

Objective:  To drive customer spend and to reward customers, based on tiers of spend levels (time- and total- based)

What:  Customers get a reward after a certain amount of spend – e.g,, 5 points for every $100 spend and additional rewards for spending a given amount within a specific time period – e.g., 20% higher points for customers who spend $150 within a 3-month period or well above the average check size in a single visit.

What type of brands: For concepts where customer spend-levels vary significantly and customers seek to display status and/or seek exclusivity , e.g., group dining, business customers etc. Outside the restaurant industry, airlines and luxury hotel brands have tiered-spend loyalty programs.

Best practices:

  • Big delta in total spend required to be promoted to higher tiers
  • Exclusive rewards for higher tiers as well as exclusive menus/items for purchase
  • Recognition of customers who are in higher tiers (e.g., American Express Black)
  • Transferability of rewards to other exclusive third-party brandstier_based

Tiered-spend based restaurant loyalty programs

Special loyalty programs:

With Punchh’s mobile CRM platform brands can also implement other types of loyalty rewards, such as Surprise and Delight and rewards for other actions such as putting a heavy premium on referrals, reviews,  likes, shares, gaming, online ordering, pre-pay, and surveys.

Today we’re breaking out the bubbly at Punchh. Mobile Commerce Daily just announced their rankings of the Top 10 Mobile Loyalty Programs of 2013 Year to Date!!  And our customer Rita’s Italian Ice made it the Top 10, right along side BestBuy, Tesco, and Walgreens!!

So we’re sharing what Mobile Commerce Daily said:

Rita’s Italian Ice dipped its toes in mobile in March with a campaign for its annual Free Ice day that included QR codes to drive downloads of its new loyalty-based app.

The Rita’s Rewards app lets consumers track each regular Italian ice that they buy. Then consumers receive a free Italian ice on their eighth trip to a store.

In addition to receiving virtual punches for buying products, consumers can also receive a free punch for logging in via Facebook when they sign up for the program, which Rita’s Italian Ice is leveraging to spread the word about its mobile loyalty program.

Rita’s Italian Ice app stands out compared to others this year because of the incentive that the company has placed on driving repeat traffic that can be tracked and then be used to serve out rewards.”

Below are a few screen-shots from the app, which you can download from the iTunes App Store or Google Play:






We love the food business, but there’s something else we love just as much – building cutting-edge software.

There’s much buzz around big data everywhere. But the big problem is that until now, big data analytics has mostly been about tools for large companies with big budgets. We are making big data just work for brick and mortar businesses, without requiring them to be IT savvy or data scientists.

Last week we announced a new product for Big Data Customer SegmentationTM. With this new capability, restaurants can not only get a deep understanding of their customers through demographics, frequency, spend, orders, social media reviews, and referrals but can also create and target micro-segments, based on ordered items SKU/PLU, spend, and other demographic and behavioral characteristics.

Within minutes, a restaurant CMO can drill down into store or customer-level insights, create micro-segments of their customers, and target them directly on their smartphones with personalized offers. For example, he/she can quickly identify which of the customers order a turkey avocado sandwich, and send them an offer for adding potato chips.

Punchh - Customer Segmentation

Last week we had some exciting news to share – Jonathan Fornaci joined Punchh as COO.

Jonathan Pic

Jonathan understands the restaurant industry well, having led two iconic restaurant chains including Rita’s Italian Ice and Straw Hat Pizza. And he has also started two fine dining restaurants from scratch – in Peru and Costa Rica.

What’s unique about Jonathan is that he also brings technology expertise, having served as chief technology and information officer for GE Capital/Genstar, where he managed technology and operations for 10 GE Capital divisions.

During his four years at Straw Hat Pizza, he helped it grow from 38 to 86 units. In 2011, he took the CEO’s post at Rita’s Italian Ice before joining Punchh.

Here’s a quick interview with Jonathan:


Question: You were doing well in restaurant operations. So what brought you to a technology company?

Jonathan: I was amazed at what Punchh did for Rita’s Italian Ice when I was there. It’s really pretty simple. Punchh helped us launch our mobile strategy by creating the Rita’s Rewards mobile app.

Using mobile, we could grow same-store sales by getting existing customers to come back more often and grow into new markets. We could tap into existing customers’ social networks and market to them one on one because we knew exactly what they liked. That’s the Punchh philosophy: know what customers like and don’t like and market directly to them using that information.

That has never happened before in restaurants, which usually go for TV, Radio ads or direct mail, where you spark interest in maybe 5 percent of the audience and nothing for 95 percent of the audience.


Question: What will you bring to the post that perhaps another COO might not?

Jonathan: Having run two different and successful restaurant chains, and having owned and operated fine restaurants in Costa Rica and Peru. I’ve lived the real issues restaurant operators live, and I know what they have to deal with.

I also know, since working with Punchh, what most restaurants probably don’t yet: that they can know all their customers. I just spoke at a conference where I asked, “Does anyone here know 10,000 of their customers?” Of course, no one raised his or her hands. But in fact, they didn’t raise their hands until I got that number down to about 100 or 200 of their customers. That’s a problem industry-wide: There are almost a million restaurants in the U.S. and they don’t know who their customers are.  Can you imagine GE, Amazon or Netflix not knowing their customers? Now the restaurant space can finally know each and every customer.

So here’s what gets me excited about my new job: Punchh is that one connection restaurants are missing. Restaurants have amazing POS information that tells them what they sold in great detail, but it never gets tied back to a customer. Once you do that, you can market to your customers personally.


Question: Do you have any goals laid out for now?

Jonathan: In short term, my goal is to bring on a number of new restaurant clients. A lot of restaurants are using spot solutions in their marketing, meaning they go to this company for one solution, another for that solution and another for that. Punchh brings them one solution that covers the entire marketing gambit that a restaurant needs.

Further down the road some I’m going to focus on growing the number of brands we work with in the U.S. and internationally, as well as explore other industry verticals. There’s a lot of potential for this technology.

In both cases, I have to convince potential customers that they have to capture at least one key audience: millennials. Thirty-one percent of disposable income in the U.S. is now spent in the restaurant space—by millennials. That’s amazing! So if you don’t serve them, you’re out of luck. And you’d better be able to capture them with technology like Punchh. They don’t want gift cards or other offers, they want things conveniently delivered to their mobile phones. The industry must adjust to this technology.


Question: We know all work and no play would make Jonathan a dull boy. So what do you do in your off hours?

Fornaci: I’m on two boards: Meals on Wheels and Paws, a no-kill animal shelter in Philadelphia. I’m passionate about those causes. I’m also a big SCUBA diver. Being under water gives me a sense of freedom that’s hard to explain. It’s just the most amazing time being there with all that beauty surrounding you and nothing else to focus on. I really love it.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has proven many things in its 16 years:

1. People love a great burrito they can get fast, affordably and made to their specs.

2. There’s more to food than mere taste. Great grub has a backstory, and Chipotle’s is shot through with founder Steve Ells’ message of “Food with Integrity,” his passion for fresh, humanely and sustainably sourced ingredients.

3. It’s proven customers appreciate Chipotle as a company as much as they do any of its burritos. Customers feel good about eating there, about being part of a brand culture that extends way beyond the plate. Heck, it’s just hip to say you eat there.

4. And it’s proven it knows how to innovate and get people’s attention. The chain just launched a new smartphone-based game called Chipotle Scarecrow. As players progress through different levels—every action centers on ensuring customers’ wholesome foods are protected from the crows of corporate food producers—they’re rewarded with a Buy One Get One offer redeemable at Chipotle. Not only is eating there hip and tasty, now it’s fun.

Chipotle Scarecrow - 4

5. Oh, and one other innovation by Chipotle: its recent animated short film. First rate work, just as you’d expect from the fast casual leader.

We admit, Chipotle Scarecrow is a cool game. (In fact, we had to stop playing it so we could pen this blog!) It’s easily one of the better examples of such games on the market. With features such as rewards built into the game, customers stay on a mission to win and Chipotle stays engaged with players.

What few restaurant companies know, however, is such games aren’t the exclusive rights of chains with $1.5 billion in annual sales. The technology is such that these games are not only affordable, Punchh can produce them in as little as 30 days.

Nope, we’re not playing games with you, we’re serious. We can do it that fast and at competitive prices.

Punchh has developed multiple games for its existing clients, but even better are the loyalty rewards programs we’ve seamlessly married to those unique games. Smartphone games are great, but it’s hard to beat a program that runs automatically, without operator monitoring or input.

See for yourself by checking out what we developed for Rita’s Italian Ice Factory. (Not only is it fun, it’ll make you wish there was a Rita’s in your area if there isn’t!) Connect with us, and let us show you how to enjoy at least one advantage you might have thought exclusive to Chipotle.

Ritas GameRitas Game - 2

August 25, 2013: Today we announced $3 million in venture capital funding to further expand our market leadership position and accelerate growth in the $20 billion U.S. restaurant marketing segment.

Three years ago we started Punchh with the goal of helping restaurants acquire and retain their customers, and grow.  Today Punchh is the first and leading mobile solution that delivers branded mobile apps for games, loyalty, online ordering, payments, reviews, referrals, and surveys.  Punchh integrates with operators’ existing POS systems to gather 360-degree customer insights.[more…]

We are live at more than 1,000 restaurant locations including brands such as Earl of Sandwich, Hungry Howie’s, Mama Fu’s, Max’s Restaurant, Rita’s Italian Ice, Vino Volo, and Voodoo BBQ and Grill.

By replacing cumbersome, easy-to-lose paper punch cards and magnetic stripe loyalty cards, operators using Punchh have realized five- to six-fold customer participation rates, three to four times greater repeat purchase rates and tenfold increases in customer reviews over Yelp!. Punchh users also report same-store sales increases of 7 to 10 percent.

If you’re thinking about how to connect with your customers and increase your brand awareness via mobile, talk to us. We can help.