The Halal Guys: A Case Study in Brand Loyalty

While many brands inspire customer loyalty, The Halal Guys has developed a passionate fan base that is helping it grow from cult-like following to store-front success story. 
Starting out as a humble hot dog cart, the brand has long attracted lines that wrapped around buildings in New York City. Leveraging 25 years of food cart experience and pioneering American Halal food, the three founders expanded their concept to brick-and-mortar locations in 2015.  In  just two years, The Halal Guys has become a global restaurant chain, the “#1 Most Yelped” business in all of New York City and in the “Top 3 Most Yelped” businesses in the entire U.S. With 38 restaurants today and more than 350 The Halal Guys restaurants in development, The Halal Guys is growing fast and franchising worldwide.
The founders wanted to launch as program that capitalizes on this growing interest and rewards its loyal customers—capturing customer and purchase data that could be leveraged to engage customers directly, drive business, and support new franchises. Most importantly, The Halal Guys needed its rewards program to align with both its  brand and old and new fans. The solution also needed to be fast – to keep lines moving. The marketing team sought the ability to target offers only to customers who needed an additional motivator to change their behavior. 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.

“We needed a loyalty offering that was fast and flexible enough to match the brand and operation style of The Halal Guys,” said Andrew Eck, director of marketing for The Halal Guys.

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 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.

“Paytronix delivered a solution our customers and operations teams and franchisees have quickly adopted,” added Eck. “The software gets us the data we need with fast transaction speeds and a system that’s always up – that combination creates trust throughout our organization.”

The Halal Guys is getting to know and understand its guests by choosing Paytronix to tie individuals to their purchase behaviors. The Halal Guys can now analyze the data and identify new opportunities to motivate guests toward higher levels of frequency and spend.

“For our grand openings we make a very concerted effort to get people into the rewards program,” said Eck. “The Halal Guys has made the rewards 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.”

The Halal Guys was named winner of the 2017 Paytronix Loyaltees Award for Best Restaurant Loyalty Launch. Launched last November, The Halal Guys’ new program secured 17,000 registered members by the end of the calendar year, accounting for 50,000 transactions with a Rewards card in the first two months. The Paytronix Loyaltees Awards is an annual program designed to identify and spotlight Paytronix customers who are leveraging the Paytronix Rewards platform to deliver truly innovative and market-defining guest experiences. 

“We congratulate The Halal Guys for their accomplishment not only at being recognized with a Loyaltees award for its fantastic program launch, but also for their strategic brand growth,” said Michelle Tempesta, head of marketing for Paytronix, “The Halal Guys brand is one to watch as it continues to leverage its guest data to discover opportunities for further brand growth.”

The Halal Guys is pleased with the degree to which the rewards program has been adopted by both franchisees and guests, said Eck. The program launched with the goal of having 15,000 registered accounts within a seven-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. Other benefits include:

Support for Regional Clustering: As new locations are opened, emails are sent to members who have signed up with other The Halal Guys restaurants nearby. 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.

Higher Frequency and Spend: The Paytronix loyalty platform is helping The Halal Guys to know and understand guests by tying individuals to their purchase behaviors. The Halal Guys is now able to analyze the data and identify new opportunities to motivate guests toward higher levels of frequency and spend.

Targeting Key Demographics: 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.

“Once our franchisees saw how carefully we chose our loyalty partner, and the lengths we went to in order to launch a loyalty offering that fit our brand, they were confident The Halal Guys had put in the due diligence and structured a loyalty offering that would work for them,” said Eck. “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. With the launch’s success, we’re now able to push out custom offers and messages.”