Make it Rain with These 3 May-Inspired Revenue Generators

May is here, and although we won’t miss those April showers one bit, business owners can keep it raining in the warmer weather with these May-inspired revenue generators:

  1. May Flowers: Many of us have used the promise of May’s sunshine and beautiful blooms as inspiration to push onward through the frigid, cloudy, rainy suck months known as “March” and “April.” Adding some lovely arrangements to your decor is not only a great way to cheer up your customers, but it can also help you drive some additional revenue! According to Linda Cahan, a retail design consultant out of Oregon, bright colors like yellow and red help grab and hold a customer’s attention. She says that yellow is actually the first color the retina detects, which is why it captivates our awareness so effectively. So, put those brightly colored blooms to work! Draw your customers’ attention to strategic places (like your dessert or cocktail menu, or marketing materials for special promotions) by surrounding it with the floral bounty of May!
  2. Menu updates: Spring cleaning isn’t just for your hall closet! May offers a variety of opportunities for sprucing up that menu with themed specialty items! Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo are quickly approaching, and are bursting with themed-menu potential. Why not add Angel Food cake (because mothers are angels!) or specialty mimosas (because they’re angels who need to drank!). For Cinco de Mayo (5th) try out some new Mexican style desserts like Fried Ice Cream or chocolate ice cream infused with Cayenne powder for some heat.
  3. Special campaigns and promotions: Most people know that Mother’s Day and Memorial Day (25th) happen in May. As with any high-traffic holiday, those are fantastic opportunities for leveraging the increase in transaction volume to incentivise growth in your loyalty program. But what about capitalizing on lesser-appreciated May holidays- like May Day (1st), National Star Wars Day (4th) or National Teacher’s Day (6th)? Putting together unexpected promotional campaigns and offers is a great way to surprise and delight your customers! Plus, advertising a Star Wars Day promotion on your Facebook or Twitter Page is bound to be shared and retweeted. Can you say organic social media marketing?!

LoyalTree Brewery Tour


St Patrick’s day is upon us- the most beloved holiday of college students across the United States and around the world. In the spirit of this fun holiday, we’ve put together a brewery tour of our own, featuring our favorite LoyalTree breweries. If you’re lucky enough to live near one of these fine establishments, you can celebrate with the knowledge that your appreciation of Irish culture will result in rewards to come.


Rivertowne Brewery

Rivertowne Brewery, taken from their website

Rivertowne Brewing, located in Pittsburgh, PA. Rivertowne Brewing, “the place where friends meet,” is a family owned brewery with a tap room and six restaurant locations throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Unique in every way from the locally crafted artwork on each can, to the partnership with the Pittsburgh Pirates to offer free fries for the 2nd home run of each home game, Rivertowne Brewing is a Pittsburgh staple and an excellent choice for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.


Penn Brewery

Penn Brewery, taken from their website

Penn Brewery, located in Pittsburgh, PA. If you’d like to enjoy an “ethnic-Pittsburgh” meal while you celebrate, Penn Brewery’s restaurant is an excellent choice. Serving everything from pierogies to the “French Fry Salad,” you’ll be sure to find something tasty to accompany their award winning beers. Since their start in 1986, Penn Brewery has won 19 Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup medals.


blackacre brewing

Black Acre Brewing Co., taken from their website

Black Acre Brewing Co, located in Indianapolis, IN. What do you get when you put a group of law students together in a classroom? Black Acre Brewing Company. That’s what. Black Acre Brewing Company is the result of a group of law students with a passion for homebrewing banning together with the common mission of spreading delicious beer throughout Indianapolis. It is now located in the Historic Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis with a focus on unique, specialty beers along with a few traditional favorites.


Growler U

Growler University, taken from their website

Growler University, located in Eugene, OR. Okay, this one isn’t a brewery, but it’s so unique we couldn’t help but include it! Growler U is a pub serving the finest craft beer, cider, wine and kombucha from local and regional microbreweries. Their menu is carefully selected to pair well with what’s on tap (up to 100 choices!), and their staff are “knowledgeable craft beer enthusiasts” who are there to help educate all their customers on the process of microbrewing and choosing the perfect beverage.


WoodenLegs Brewery

Wooden Legs Brewing Co., courtesy of

Wooden Legs Brewing, located in Brookings, SD. Wooden Legs Brewing is an excellent choice for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration due to their pizza oven and high quality beer, but also due to their excellent rewards program! The variety of rewards options for loyal customers was why Wooden Legs was selected as a LoyalTree Stand Out Program of the Year.


Roy Pitz Brewing

Roy Pitz Brewing, taken from their website

Roy Pitz Brewing Company, located in Chambersburg, PA. “Liquid Art.” That’s what you need to know about Roy Pitz Brewing Company- there is hand-crafted art on the bottle and in the bottle. Their mission is to “share a philosophy of a passionate fulfilling life, through the art of crafting quality beers, hard work and the employment of good people.”

Ghosts, Goblins and the Fear of Over Rewarding


This time of year is a celebration of all things scary; from primal fears like darkness and creepy crawlers, to more theatrical fears like haunted houses or a zombie apocalypse. In the spirit of Halloween, we’re here to discuss the fear of giving away too much and “losing the farm.” In other words, the fear of over rewarding.

There are several reasons why business owners may be afraid of a rewards program. What if the bottom line is negatively affected or the program attracts customers who have no intention of making a repeat visit?

These fears are rooted in the business owner’s desire to see their businesses thrive, reward the right customers and keep operations running smoothly. While certain phobias require years of therapy, we recommend the following steps to overcome the fear of rewarding:

1) Think Big Picture: Assess how much you are actually spending on the rewards you are giving away. If you are squeamish about giving away rewards to begin with, it’s easy to mentally overestimate the costs. Don’t forget to calculate the money your reward-redeemers are spending past the cost of the reward/discount you offered! While rewards programs vary, we have found that our merchants’ loyalty program users spend 20-30% more per check.

2) Assess who you are spending that money on: Are your promotions primarily focused on attracting new customers (shift), or incentivizing 3rd and 4th visits from existing customers (lift)?

If you don’t have a focus- get one! It costs a lot more to acquire new customers than to farm business out of existing ones; plus 80% of most businesses’ revenue comes from 20% of their loyal customers. Focusing on new customer acquisition is riskier and more expensive. Don’t underestimate the value of rewarding loyal customers! Do this well, and they may generate shift for you.

3) Determine your budget: Know what you are willing to spend on customer rewards and stay within those boundaries. Remember that offering unattractive rewards/promotions because they are inexpensive is not helping you in the long run. It’s better to offer a limited number of great rewards (generating exclusivity) than to offer a plethora of rewards nobody cares about. Your rewards represent your brand: choose to be exciting and generous or exclusive rather than cheap and unimaginative.

Offering rewards your loyal customers care about goes a long way in developing an emotional connection to your brand. It’s the difference between making your customers feel appreciated, or making them feel lazily “sold.” Many businesses offer rewards programs, but only a small portion of these programs truly make customers feel valued by the brand. A quality rewards program can build a robust, loyal customer base and drive enough repeat revenue to more than pay for itself.

Fear is based on a lack of understanding. In this case, not understanding could be causing you to miss out on engaging with your customers and the long term payout of having made that investment.


Sabres Launch Fan Loyalty Program



BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The blue and gold want to reward fans who stick it out through the good and the bad.

The Buffalo Sabres are launching Sabres Fan Advantage, a mobile application-based loyalty program that will allow fans to earn points toward tickets and team merchandise and take part in “exclusive fan experiences,” such as player meet-and-greets.

Participating fans can earn points by scanning codes on tickets or receipts from merchandise and concessions purchased in First Niagara Center. Fans at home can take part by entering keywords announced during Sabres games on MSG.

The program is available as a free download for anyone with a smart phone with IOS or Android operating system.

The 2014-15 Sabres Fan Advantage season runs from Thursday through June 30.

More information, including a video tutorial, can be found at

The Sabres (1-3) return to First Niagara Center to take on the Florida Panthers (0-2) Friday night at 7 p.m.

Three Ways to Get More Out of Your Fall Promotions


Fall is a great time for promotions. Leaves are changing, school is back in session and customers are on the hunt for fun things to do before the brutal chill of winter sets in. Autumn months are filled with obscure holidays and extra activities to satisfy the summer void. As a business owner, you may be planning ways to harvest that added momentum. Here are three tips for making this fall a profitable and memorable season for your business.

  1. Pay Attention to Current Events. Within one week in September the newest season of The Voice premiered (22nd), we said goodbye to summer on the first official day of fall (23rd), and International Coffee Day stormed Twitter and social media (29th). If you didn’t promote something special for at least one of those things, you probably missed out on some extra business. Between professional sports, miscellaneous holidays, and the goings-on of Hollywood, there’s no reason to have a boring month. Find something fun, find a way to celebrate it, and promote the heck out of it.
  2. Show Favoritism. Have a weekly open mic night or an end of summer party in the works? Promoting special events to the general public is a great way to get new feet through the door. However, offering exclusive deals/benefits to people who are “in the know” is how you’ll ultimately generate repeat business. Heighten the effect of your existing special events by incorporating special value adds for your loyal customers.
  3. Be Able to Evaluate Success. There’s no benefit to having a test if there isn’t a system in place for scoring. It’s a great idea to “test” different kinds of deals and promotions, but you should decide ahead of time what the goal is and how you’ll determine whether or not you’ve reached it. Whether you’re aiming to move a certain product, increase revenue on a slow night, gain social media followers, or make your presence known to a wider audience, be sure your whole team knows the goal for your event and has the tools they need to help you be successful.

Pay attention, show favoritism and evaluate success. May your harvest be bountiful!

Mobile Platform for Pittsburgh Penguin’s PensPoints Loyalty Program Triggers Big Success

Originally published on August 6th, 2014 by Jim Tierney of Loyalty360. See original post here.


When the Pittsburgh Penguins launched its fan loyalty program–PensPoints–in February 2013, it marked the first mobile app-based rewards program to surface in professional sports. With a big assist from technology developer LoyalTree–which helped facilitate the integration in CONSOL Energy Center (home of the Penguins) with LoyalTree lead developers Ray Chan and Shriya Joag−PensPoints was poised for success.

David Peart, Senior VP of Sales and Service for the Penguins, told Loyalty360 that there were some anxious moments before the program launch 18 months ago, but those subsided after rapid engagement and program member adoption.

Peart said the PensPoints program currently has about 90,000 members. “It’s grown steadily since we introduced it,” Peart said. “Members have maintained the same sort of activity as far as engagement levels since we launched the program. We are absolutely surprised at the adoption rate, the number of members, and this sort of fan engagement.”

Working with LoyalTree has been a phenomenal experience, Peart said. “We’re also surprised from a technology standpoint because of the amazing flexibility of this mobile platform, how much it’s been adopted internally within our organization, and how proactive LoyalTree has been,” he said.” Peart said the Penguins’ staff, coupled with LoyalTree, has combined to become such a forward-thinking, progressive new media and marketing group that is always abreast of the latest technological advances.

Last month, Peart was honored by The Sports and Entertainment Alliance in Technology with the InStadium Experience in Innovation award for sponsorship sales connected to the PensPoints loyalty program. The awards cited team executives in the U.S. and Canada who find new ways to leverage technology, new media, and data to drive long-term team value for their sports franchise. “Anytime you’re a pilot program or trying something for the first time, especially from the technological standpoint, there will always be a little bit of hesitancy,” Peart explained. “A lot of this was trial and error for us. As an organization, it (the award) validates all the hard work of the media group and the marketing group related to a willingness to adopt new technology.”

Since PensPoints was the first mobile app-based loyalty program in professional sports, some important lessons have been learned by the Penguins and other professional sports franchises looking to follow suit. “What it says to other teams is there are ways to use technology in this space,” Peart explained. “As an organization, we try to embrace and look for opportunities to use technology and be innovative with technology to solve problems from a business perspective.”

LoyalTree doesn’t require businesses to buy any additional hardware to run the program, and builds custom-fit solutions that allow for a seamless adoption of the program for staff members. PensPoints, which is run through users’ smartphones and uses QR codes, rewards people for things such as attending games, listening to games on the radio, and purchasing concession food and merchandise. If the code is scanned by a generic QR code reader, then it will automatically link the user to buttons to download the PensPoints application for Android or iPhone.

Once the codes are scanned using the PensPoints scanner, then the application interface informs the consumer exactly what they are doing through messaging and interface animations. Fans scan special codes in the app to collect PensPoints–and the program is free to join. Every time a fan earns 100 PensPoints, a new reward voucher is automatically mailed to his or her home. Vouchers can be redeemed throughout Pittsburgh. Special codes are given when PensPoints are earned. Codes will appear in places such as IceTime magazine, on sales receipts, or can be heard over the radio.

Peart said the use of the mobile platform, in and of itself, was the most innovative aspect of the PensPoints loyalty program. “It afforded us the ability to see that this was scalable for multiple applications, not just for admission, but also concessions, and we do retail traffic driving promotions, and watch parties where members can collect points,” he explained. “The mobile platform really makes this very present and always available.” In the past 18 months, Peart said, his staff has learned a considerable amount about the rewards side of the program. “We’ve been able to streamline that and deliver more compelling rewards,” he said. “The gamification aspect of this loyalty program has put it off the charts as far as activity level.”

Two Lessons from LeBron about Customer Loyalty

LeBronFour years ago LeBron James left his hometown of Akron, OH and his first pro gig with the Cleveland Cavaliers for a sweet deal with the Miami Heat. Cavs fans were devastated, and years of adoration were exchanged for unbridled loathing. Many latched onto the fact that LeBron has a “Loyalty” tattoo on his arm as a source of satirical ammunition.

However, for the duration of his time in Miami, he remained committed to the Akron/Cleveland area, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to his alma mater. His marketing and business team is comprised of his same buddies from Akron who have been with him for the life of his career. LeBron is a family man who has retained strong ties with a close circle of friends, despite his fame and success. His move to Miami doesn’t necessarily make him a “disloyal” person. On the contrary, his lifestyle as a whole tells the story of a very loyal friend and community member.

There are two lessons here that it behooves businesses owners to take note of:
1) Even people who are incredibly loyal will make a move for a sweeter deal. Be sure the rewards you’re offering actually seem valuable to your customers. If they make you look like a cheapskate, you’ll struggle to keep customers committed. (IE: A 10% discount or less is considered cheap by most customers.)

2) Emotional connection counts for something. LeBron came back to Cleveland, in part, because of the historical and emotional significance of being “home.” Create an environment that feels like home, and you’ll have a much better shot at winning back customers who have been exploring elsewhere. Selling branded merchandise and/or experiential extras (like a private wine tasting for two, for example) is a great way of helping your customers feel like they’re in the family. Also, offering those as rewards for loyal customers is a great way to cultivate a stronger connection.

Bottom line: If you don’t put in the extra effort to keep your loyal customers around, they may leave you for the Miami Heat… or at least: your competitive equivalent.

Welcome to LoyalTree!

Make loyalty mobile with LoyalTree!

LoyalTree programs are a 100% mobile, hassle-free way to connect with your customers and build loyalty.

Here’s how it works:

  • A customer makes a purchase and uses their smartphone to scan a QR code printed on their receipt. A QR code is a two-dimensional code that is readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones.
  • Customers earn points by scanning these codes.
  • Points go towards rewards. Once a reward is unlocked, it appears in the customer’s reward bank within the app.
  • Next time the customer visits, they can easily access the reward from the app. Accessing the reward generates a unique discount code that your staff enters into the Point-of-Sale, discounting the price of the check accordingly.

More points = more rewards. Reward your customers for their purchases and drive more visits to your business. Point structures and rewards are totally customizable, allowing you to create the perfect program for your business.

Adding LoyalTree to your business is easy!

LoyalTree integrates with your existing point-of-sale system, and runs completely through your customers’ smartphones.

  • You don’t need to buy any new hardware, your operations do not change, and your staff does not need special training.
  • There are no more plastic cards, and no more looking up numbers or fumbling with key rings — making life easier for you and your customers.
  • 50% of US consumers have a smartphone* Reach out to customers on the platform they’re using most.  Wherever your customers go, their phones go with them. With a mobile loyalty program, you can reach out to them anytime, anywhere.

Improve your marketing efforts and bring more feet through your door.

  • Tap into the LoyalTree network and attract new customers through the LoyalTree application, where your business will be located through user searches.
  • Retain current customers by delighting them with the rewards they want most.
  • View robust analytics that show you who your customers are, where they’re coming from, and what they’re buying. Leverage this information to modify your marketing efforts and loyalty program to bring in more customers.

Connect with your customers.

Send news, discounts, and birthday gifts directly to their phones, where they’re more likely to be read. Push notifications sent to phones have a 97% read rate, versus just 3% for email!* Send a message through LoyalTree to start the conversation between you and your customers, and keep it going in your store!

LoyalTree programs help you build relationships with your customers, learn about your business, and develop the tools you need to drive more revenue! Email us to get started with a LoyalTree program today!

On the Menu: Mobile technology is changing dining out

Written by China Millman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Originally published on June 10th, 2012 at 4am EST. See story here.


In more than a few local restaurants, notepads are being replaced with iPads, coupons are going virtual, and you can pay your bill with your smartphone. Computers infiltrated restaurants long ago, but the rise of mobile technologies has created a surge of interest in products designed to make the restaurant experience more efficient, consistent and profitable.

Chris Dilla’s Bocktown Beer and Grill grew to two locations last year. An early adaptor at using social media to promote her businesses, Ms. Dilla also explored other technologies that might appeal to her customer base. Bocktown has a mobile version of its website, which is linked to the user’s location. If they use a smartphone to access the website, said Ms. Dilla, the phone will automatically go to the location that the user is closest to.

Bocktown also uses Tabbedout, a mobile payment application available for iPhones and Androids, which allows users to pay bills at participating establishments with their smartphones. Users can add credit cards to the application, then when they’re at Bocktown, they let their server know they’re going to use Tabbedout, give them an identification code then select on their phone which credit card they want to use.

Not only does it provide an additional level of security, the application also allows users to look at their bill in real time, so they can decide whether they want to splurge and have another beer or order dessert. If they’re eating with a group, they can pay their portion of the check individually — no more tricky splitting of the tab.

Many of the most successful restaurant technologies seem to provide fresh answers to old problems. Pittsburgh local Robb Myer came up with the idea for his company while searching for a place to have brunch in San Francisco. He wandered from restaurant to restaurant, adding his name to multiple wait lists, then wound up returning to the one that called him when a table was available. Soon after, NoWait was born.Restaurants use an iPad to run the NoWait application, creating a custom wait list that communicates with customers via text message.

Allowing diners to “wait where they want” takes much of the unpleasantness out of waiting for a table, explained co-founder Luke Panza. For restaurants, that means retaining more customers overall, as well as customers who are happier when they sit at a table.

The company, which was a participant in the AlphaLab technology startup incubator on the South Side, has quickly gained an impressive following, with restaurant clients in 31 states as well as Canada. In Pittsburgh, clients include Dinette in East Liberty, BRGR in East Liberty and Cranberry, Burgatory at the Waterworks and the Sharp Edge, Downtown.

They’re not the only company offering this kind of service, but NoWait is distinguished by its user-friendly interface, said Mr. Panza, which is also faster than Web-based applications.

By streamlining the communication process between host and customer, the restaurant can also fill seats more efficiently. For example, if a group is notified that their table is ready, but they’re having a drink at a nearby establishment, they can text back to the restaurant, letting them know when they’ll return. Originally, said Mr. Panza, they didn’t realize that the customer’s ability to text back to the restaurant would be so important. But they’ve found that back-and-forth communication benefits both the restaurant and the customer.

Another Pittsburgh startup that has found success in the restaurant world is RhoMania, which developed an application called Grail for interactive wine, liquor and cocktail lists. Its local clients include Rico’s Italian Restaurant in Ross, Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina in Garfield, the 17th Street Cafe on the South Side and Juniper Grill in McMurray.

Restaurants use the application differently, said Darren Olson, president and CEO. Some have iPad lists that just include a particular type of beverage, while others include the entire menu. Some restaurants ask RhoMania to create the information for the application — they have a sommelier on staff — while others prefer to curate the information themselves.

At Verde, owner Jeff Catalina was excited by the idea of incorporating useful technologies into the diner’s experience. He had always planned on offering a large tequila selection, and he decided that an iPad tequila list would be a fun way of allowing interested customers to explore the selections.

Mr. Catalina doesn’t think that the iPad replaces server training and education, but it’s a helpful enhancement, especially if diners want some time to mull over their options. “New ways to engage customers are a good thing,” he said.

Mr. Olson emphasized that Grail does more than offer a fun experience to the tech-savvy customer — it also increases beverage sales and restaurant profits. Restaurants “see an increase in wine, liquor and beer sales of about 15 to 20 percent,” he said. He attributes the increase to the fact that diners who have more information are often willing to spend a little more money than they might otherwise. “Price is always going to be an issue,” he said, “but it becomes less of an issue when it’s less risky.”

Grail rewards customers with greater confidence and information. LoyalTree, another Pittsburgh startup, gives restaurants a high-tech and highly customizable way to offer more tangible rewards.

To use LoyalTree, iPhone and Android users can download the app, then join loyalty programs for all the participating businesses that they want. Some of the current clients include Crazy Mochas throughout the city, Hofbrauhaus on the South Side, Rivertowne Pour House in Monroeville, Winghart’s Burger and Whiskey Bar on the South Side; Sonoma Grill, Seviche and NOLA on the Square, Downtown; and Mercurio’s inShadyside.

For the customer, “it’s like carrying 80 different plastic cards,” said Jim Ambrose, director of Business Development. They simply scan the Quick Response or QR codes — two-dimensional barcodes that can send users coupons or link them to websites with a quick scan from a smartphone app — at participating businesses to earn points and unlock deals. For the business, it provides a new way to connect not just with existing customers, but with new customers as well, since LoyalTree members can look for other businesses that participate in the rewards program. When they add a business, they immediately receive a promotion to encourage them to try that establishment.

Businesses also get useful information about their customers and the success of promotions, or even specific menu items. In the newest version of the program, businesses can even send specific deals out to LoyalTree members, to increase business on a slow day or promote a special offering.

In reality, these technologies have made only small inroads into the restaurant market, and not all of them will flourish. But just as online reservation systems went from being an anomaly to an expectation, diners and customers will likely make room for other new developments, and some may be born right here in Pittsburgh.


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