It’s been a busy couple of months for Firehouse Subs. For the last year and a half the marketing department has been diligently working with teams of vendors and partners toward the launch of a brand new loyalty program and customer engagement app. And now the long hours of work have paid off. After successful testing across a few pilot markets, the brand has revealed Firehouse Rewards, which comes with the slogan, “FEAST. EARN. REDEEM.”
“We have had a lot of franchisees that have been asking for a loyalty program for a while,” Matt Olsen, Firehouse Subs Senior Manager of Digital Marketing, told Loyalty360. “And I think in the restaurant industry, especially in fast casual and QSR, you have to have some sort of loyalty program just to stay in the game. So they have been asking for it, and we have wanted it.”
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Firehouse Subs has been in operation since 1994. Its namesake is derived from former firefighter brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen who wanted to offer a wide range of hot and cold meat and cheese sandwiches in a family-friendly environment. Since its inception, Firehouse has seen an amazing amount of success. It currently supports over 900 locations across 43 states, most of which are franchise operations, with plans to double it’s footprint by 2020.
And alongside a delectable list of dining options and a significant amount of community involvement, Firehouse Rewards is the latest customer engagement tool the brand now has at its disposal. It is also one that the franchisee owners were eager to adopt, which can sometimes be a challenge for many overarching corporate initiates.
“It wasn’t too hard of a sell,” Olsen said. “Especially when we showed them that we didn’t want to do just a basic digital punch card. We really wanted to have a program that was flexible and engages the guests. And that, of course, comes with results that benefit the franchisees.”
Firehouse Rewards is a points-based loyalty program that is centered on what customers actually spend, which encourages guests to add on drinks or extra combo items. The more they spend the quicker they collect “loyalty credits” for food rewards such as meal upgrades, free subs, and more.
But even beyond the dynamic rewards structure, Firehouse Rewards also prioritizes digital customer engagement through a host of innovative mobile app features. This allows guests to easily and quickly manage points and rewards, place online orders, access order histories, and find nearby store locations.
And perhaps the most exciting feature of the new app comes via Blaze Hopper, Firehouse Subs’ in-app game, which not only serves to engage an increasingly mobile savvy audience, it lets users earn bonus points, while also continually keeping the brand top-of-mind for players both in and outside the store.
Blaze Hopper has been called a challenging and addicting game, and it further demonstrates the brand’s commitment to finding different and relevant ways to communicate with customers. It’s this holistic approach to customer engagement that is starting to set Firehouse Subs apart from the competition.
“That’s important for us,” Olsen said. “We want to make sure that we are consistently working to tailor that experience for each guest. The space is getting very competitive and so we need to find newer and better ways to connect with our guests through more personal and relevant engagement. So it is not just saying, ‘Hey we know you like this kind of sandwich, so why don’t you come in and get another?’ It can go beyond that. We are always looking at ways we can personalize the relationship.”