Football, baseball, basketball—it didn’t matter the sport. At casual-dining restaurant Duffy’s Sports Grill, locations brimmed to the top with guests like a delightfully full pint of beer when sports games were on.

About four years ago, though, Duffy’s realized it had a problem: without a big sports game on TV, its restaurants were like a broken tap, unable to fill up to capacity.

“We knew we had to fill up the space during nonsporting events,” says Paul Emmett, Duffy’s president. “We knew we had to market to a wider demographic. To keep the restaurants full, we had to offer significant value.”

His solution: to provide a lucrative loyalty program.

In 2010 Duffy’s implemented a Paytronix-based MVP customer loyalty program. The program is a huge part of the concept’s business, with 425,000 MVP members driving 72 percent of business transactions in Duffy’s 24 restaurants, which are spread throughout Florida. Loyalty customers linger longer in the restaurants.

“It’s a core part of our culture,” Emmet says. “All our team players understand this this is what drives the business and our marketing program. The company is built around sports and customer loyalty. “

Duffy’s recently expanded that program, adding new capabilities from Paytronix, a provider of loyalty, gift card, and email capabilities to restaurants. Upgrades include mobile check in, mobile sign-up, and real-time messaging capabilities. Guests can also sign up for the loyalty program at kiosks located in each of the stores, and since staff members are no longer required to input the information, the restaurant ensures the data captured is accurate.

The Duffy's MVP loyalty program segments guests based on behavior into three spending tiers: MVP, All Star, and Hall of Fame. All Star members spend $1,000 annually, and receive placement at the top of the waiting list, among other perks. Hall of Fame members spend $3,000 annually and are allowed to make reservations—a privilege exclusive to them.

Of Duffy’s 425,000 total loyalty club members, 10,000 are All-Stars, driving 13 percent of the restaurant’s revenues, and 800 have Hall of Fame status, driving 2-3 percent of sales. 


With the average ticket at Duffy’s around $20, Hall of Famers are spending a significant amount of time at the restaurant. “Our guests are not necessarily wealthy folks,” Emmett says. “Those with All Star or Hall of Fame cards really value their updated status—they put their cards down on the table so the server knows they are a premium customer. “

Using Paytronix’s check-level integration into its POS system, “we can drill down into specifics about guest behavior—what location they frequent, what are their favorite times to visit, what they order,” says Sandy Nelson, director of marketing, Duffy's Sports Grill. “Before, we could access this information, but it took several different reports to gather it all. Now, we can pull the information easily, in real time.”

Duffy’s is also able to differentiate offers to guests, presenting different benefits to various guests for different reasons. “We are much more sophisticated on how we can apply rewards and how we manage overall campaign,” Nelson says. “We don’t have to just give blanket offers; we can tailor the rewards to our guests based on their behavior.”

Using Paytronix’s email capabilities, in conjunction with the detailed metrics, Duffy’s crafts sophisticated offers, communicated to guests in real time.

“For our sporting clientele, instead of sending an email blast to all 400,000 of our loyalty members, we can analyze numbers for specific past events and send offers,” says Nelson. “If there is a Pay-per-view sporting event, we can message anyone who has attended in the past and let them we are showing the event, offering them a free appetizer.”

Duffy’s is also able to cost-effectively deliver a variable pricing program, similar to what the airlines do. Between 2 and 4 p.m. many of Duffy’s restaurants were typically empty.  Now, loyalty program members are rewarded with a 25-40 percent break on their check. “In some of our restaurants, which are located near big retirement communities, those hours might be more crowded than during the evening,” Emmett says. “It makes our customers happy, because they are getting a good deal, our staff is happy, because they have to man the restaurant anyway, and the servers are happy, because they have customers.”

By Joann Whitcher

Industry News, Marketing & Promotions, NextGen Casual, Technology, Duffy's Sports Grill