Del Taco is the world’s second-largest Mexican fast-food restaurant chain, and its loyalty program is playing a vital role in its popularity and growth.
In this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty, Erin Levzow joins us to share her industry-leading insights and ideas from their “Del Yeah!” program which has already won prestigious awards – including B2C app of the year and the Gold Award for Loyalty Strategy.
Learn how Del Taco has created such a compelling mobile app featuring Del Yeah! Rewards to truly attract and retain its customers.
This episode is sponsored by Cheetah Digital.
Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thoma and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.
Cheetah Digital’s Relationship Marketing Platform, bridges the gaps in your customer data. Moving people from unknown consumers to loyal brand ambassadors. With customer acquisition, multi-channel messaging, and customized emotional loyalty programs. Cheetah Digital is a one-stop-shop for enterprise brands looking to simplify and scale their relationship marketing strategy. Learn how brands such as American Airlines and Discovery Incorporated used Cheetah Digital to drive increased revenue with video case studies available on cheetahdigital.com.
Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. Featuring the loyalty program from Del Taco in the United States, a program they’ve called Del Yeah Rewards. As the second-largest Mexican QSR restaurant in the world or quick-service restaurant, Del taco is a hugely popular chain that’s definitely in growth mode and their loyalty program is a key part of that growth. The business serves an incredible 3 million customers a week across it’s hundreds of stores in the United States. And it launched its new loyalty program in September, 2021. After replatforming its technology stack to allow for these ambitious plans. The program has already won some prestigious awards, including the B2C app of the year, and also the loyalty strategy gold award and it has already signed up over 675,000 members joining me today to share some of their ideas and insights is Erin Levzow who is vice president of marketing technology for Del Taco. So please do listen and enjoy learning all about Del Yeah Rewards.
So Erin, Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. How are you today?
I’m good. Thanks for having me.
Great, great, lovely to meet you. I am a huge fan of loyalty in this incredible sector of this delicious food. And what I would dare say is probably one of the most recent sectors to really embrace loyalty properly so, been dying to hear all about Del Taco and Del Yeah Rewards. So before we get into the story of what you’ve been building over thelast couple of months, I know it’s hot off the presses. Tell us first and foremost, Erin, just as a loyalty industry professional and I guess a consumer at heart. What is your personal favorite loyalty program?
Awesome. Well, uh, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that answer this way, but it is Starbucks because I do use it. Um, I really like it. I like their gamification that they put in it. May have a game going on right now where, when I first started playing it. I thought, well, this is dumb. And then I get through it. I’m like, oh my gosh. It’s really actually very sticky. I have now spent so much time playing this game. It definitely got me over the hurdle to order through the app.
I had an ordered through the app. I had just, I always just earned points and redeem points or stars. And. It did exactly what I’m sure they set out to do. Right. They increased my average ticket. They increased my transaction value. I learned something about Starbucks all through this game. And it’s just so funny that I went right into it going well, this is silly. This is dumb. And then at the end, I was like, it actually worked. No, that was smart. So if Starbucks is listening, I truly do enjoy the app. I have an ungodly amount of points that, uh, are it’s ridiculous how much I use it. Um, so it’s also very sticky, right? You use it. You want to get those stars. You want the challenges that come out that seem to be micro-segmented, or fact personalized to me.
Yes. Yes. I love the fact that you were cynical at the beginning, Erin, and it’s completely changed your mind for someone with your expertise. That’s brilliant.
Yeah, it was wonderful.
And clearly, you changed your behaviors. So as you said, I mean, the stickiness is one thing, but actually to start ordering on the app for the first time means that’s probably a behavior that you now know, okay. That’s actually the way I’m going to do it, maybe going forward.
Exactly. And for me, so I get the same thing every day. In creature of habit, right. She’s just trying to put it into the app the first time I was like, this is too much, but once I ordered it and it showed up. All I have to do is click the plus sign and it’s there every time. Right? It’s one click. When I reorder it, I can show up. I walk in, I grab my drink and there are probably many people listening that are like, yeah of course you do Erin. Like everybody’s been doing that for years, but like, this is what actually got me over their hurdle, to do it myself. You to be able to order cake pops for the kids.
Oh, very important. Very important to absolutely. You’ve got to start their lifelong journey of loyalty to Starbucks as well. So you’re starting them young. Huh. But it’s interesting and you’re absolutely right. And I know Amazon, for example, I think they have a trademark, for example, on the one-click I think they probably were the first to use that, but of course, there’s words, we can continue to use them, but I’ve noticed it myself with food delivery apps, for example, and this is, you know, without having any points or stars or, you know, miles or anything associated the simplicity of reordering, what I want at my time is actually extremely compelling. So I think sometimes it’s back to basics in terms of getting the loyal behavior. Huh?
Yeah. And the way I think about it is, If it takes me longer to type it into an app or a website than it would be to voice it to you. And there’s no reason for me to do it. This one, click this, like doing it very simple. Yeah. It creates the benefit so that it does become easier than me voicing it to you.
Yes, and as you said that, actually, I was just thinking, because as you can imagine, a podcaster I’m particularly interested in what’s happening in voice. And I happened to be at a conference yesterday and they were talking about voice search, for example, and I do believe that’s happening certainly in the US market. But I’m just wondering if brands will start to allow that maybe. Dictation capability. So that the, the first hurdle of making your, you know, perhaps quite complicated order is, you know, simplified but captured. So they don’t always maybe have to incentivize that behavior. So, yeah,
And being able to compute that voice in real time, right. Faster than a human can compute it. And that I think is always going to be the challenge until we get faster with our AI and voice recognition.
Yes. Yes. Speed and accuracy, I think is also still an issue. So I can imagine if the, if the coffee came out wrong, this would not be anybody’s. Anyone’s good. Good way to start the day.
So it is a great example, Erin, so thank you for that. Um, where I live here in Dubai, the Starbucks program has only been launched. Would you believe? I think it was six months ago now and there actually isn’t a Starbucks near me, but I am going to have coffee there with a member of the loyalty team to chat both the records about how it’s all going, because I’m super curious. They don’t do a lot of PR, but hopefully in time, we’ll get them on the show as well to share.
Oh, it’s great. Because they don’t have to ask me my name anymore. Right. I scan my loyalty and they know my name. So like it used to be, you’d see all over social media, people would hold up their Starbucks cup and it had the horrible, wrong name on it. Or like, it would just say like bro or whatever. And, um, now they don’t even have to pretend to misspell my name or pronounce my name or call me the boy version of Erin right? It’s in the app. So it comes right through. It’s a sticker. The little things like that. You’re like, we don’t recognize it as consumers, but the efficiencies it found for them as well as probably the amount of social media that went away of people complaining about their names on cups is probably pretty high.
Absolutely. You’re absolutely right. It’s quite hilarious. When you think about even the embarrassment factor, I never quite liked my name being yelled at, so I don’t know if that’s still a thing, but yeah, it sounds like they’re fixing a lot. And one piece actually that I do know they changed as well, Erin. And just because you mentioned gamification, um, I, as far as I’m aware, Starbucks doesn’t have tiers anymore. I think they used to have like a green tier and then there was a gold tier. So have you noticed that one at all?
Oh, I don’t know, you know, now that you say that I’m not exactly sure, but I do know that. It was like, when you signed up, you were automatically this tier and within like a minute, you were the next tier. So I assume that they probably did away with that and they just consider everybody loyalty. You earn points, you redeem points. I don’t think the tiers work for them. For them specifically were a driving factor.
For sure. Absolutely. Well, it’s a great example as I said, I’m very different to anything I’ve worked on. I’m sure you’re paying very close attention to every restaurant chain now in the whole country there, you know, given that you’ve just launched such a wonderful program last September, 2021. So tell us a bit about, uh, maybe Del Taco first of all, Erin, just for those of us who are not in the US and can’t get to the restaurant. I have to say the food looks extraordinary on the website, so I’m fully, fully sold on the core product. So tell us a bit about the business.
Well, Del Taco is a 600 unit restaurant chain throughout the US it’s QSR plus. Um, and what that means is it is still fast. You get your food very quickly, but it is fresh. And that sets us apart. That is different, right? The fact that we make our own Pico De Gallo and our Guacamole fresh every day, that sets us apart. That is that fast, casual freshness that you look for, but in a QSR setting. So again, it’s shocking how fast we are. Um, in fact, my joke was always, if we could just slow down. I get more online orders, right. More people at order ahead, there were just so fast, like it’s our own detriment, right. Um, or positive things. So we are, we’re, we’re continuing to grow and growing very quickly. And, um, I’m proud to be part of it.
Okay. So what was the idea for a loyalty program? Because as you’ve said, you’ve already got an exceptional product and I always think that’s the first step, because clearly there’s no point having a loyalty program if it’s trying to compensate for something else. So, so the basics are all clear. So what was the idea behind, I suppose, investing in something as significant as a loyalty program at the scale that you guys are operating.
Yeah, so I’ve done loyalty for years. And when I was brought into Del Taco, it was to look at what a loyalty program might look like. And we do have a great product and in order to have like loyalty as a channel, right, a channel to get people to our great product. And for us loyalty was a way not only to reward our best customers, but also to incentivize them to continue to come back to us. Right? Um, knowing that everything comes down in the restaurant space, average ticket and transaction, right? Can I drive more people in more often? Or are they up in there? How much they’re spending each time they come in? Um, so we looked at a lot of data to build this and what that looks like, and it’s also, um, Uh, reason why someone wants to give you their data. There is a little bit of that give and take there. So a customer is willing to give up a lot of data and data when I say that it might just be their email, right. It might be their first name in order to be part of this. And so we’re giving back to them for them sharing with us as well.
Okay. Okay. And in terms of tracking those members then, is it a purely digital program, or do you do, uh, an ID card, a plastic one, or how do you do that side?
We don’t do a plastic card. It is all on the app. However, if for some reason you can download an app. And I joke because I have a friend of mine who I think still has a flip phone, which is, but he’s like, I’ll sign up on the website so you can go through the website to sign up, but you can use your points or earn points, um, through the app. Through ordering through our app for delivery or pickup or in-store, drive-through as well as, um, if you just were to walk in-store and show your phone, they’ll scan it. And you’ll earn points that way too. Very similar to Starbucks. Um, it is called Del Yeah Rewards. It launched last September. Has done phenomenally well, and we, what we’ve seen with it is we set out after researching, uh, I worked for a long time in Las Vegas, in the total rewards, MGM resorts, um, looking at all the different loyalty there. And if you look at their types of loyalty, you look at airline loyalty and you look at what our loyalty looks like, what drives people, right? What drives them up. It’s that tier-based points-based system. So there are, Four tiers there are, and it is points-based as well. And you earn more points based on the tier level you level up to and unlock different and new offers as well. So, um, that is the components of the loyalty, but then there’s surprise and delight. There’s all the different pieces that we always talk about. Like how do we reward our best customers? One of the simple things is just by being a Deli Yeah Rewards member just by being a member, you can get free coffee. Every day before 11:00 AM iced or hot coffee with any purchase. So let’s say you purchased one of our 20, under $2 menu items. So for less than $2, you get your item that you just paid for as well as free iced or hot coffee just by being a member. Right. It really benefits the customer to sign up and partake in this. And then just by signing up, you get two free Del Tacos, which is their number one selling product. So,
Wow. Yeah. So I think that generosity is a very important point because we all have that hurdle of resistance. Of course, you know, do I want another app? Am I going to be back here enough to join all of that kind of ranting in our heads?
So yeah. Two free tacos Del Taco is a major theme is super. I love the coffee and I did see your 20 under $2. So I’m guessing, you know, the way supply chain issues and all of those kinds of challenges are affecting the whole world. And that looked like something that you guys are doing in response to that so pretty comprehensive response.
Exactly. Um, my boss, Tim Hebert, uh, was a big spearhead of the 20 under 2 menu. And it’s so smart that in a time we all know the time we live in right now that you can come and there are 20 items under $2 you can get like, that is crazy. When you think about that, like, I can’t even go to some of these other QSR or fast food restaurants and get something of that value and that quality. So I’m very impressed. Every time I have items off of our 20, under $2 menu, I’m incredibly impressed with the value you get for the quality.
And it sounds like you do old day parts as well. Aaron, am I right?
Yeah. We’re very lucky in that way. Right? Some restaurants are like a lunch or a dinner restaurant. We’re at breakfast, lunch, dinner late night, late, late night restaurants. So depending on when you need us, we’re there for you.
Yes. Yes. Yes. I love it. Yes. Um, and it’s funny again, like either in Ireland where I’m from, or even here in Dubai, you know, just tacos, aren’t really a menu thing, or I just don’t see those restaurants around. So I am super envious. It seems to be a whole soap culture, I think in the US you know, it’s got like, just to the whole categories.
Oh, my gosh, tacos are amazing as well as, um, we do have a Double Del burger as well. And our burger, like you think we’re called Del Taco. You’re like, how good can their burger be? And then you have it. And it is shockingly good. Every time I go back, I’m like, I kind of just want the burger now. People are like, you’re going to get a burger. They’ll take it. I was like, it’s so good. It’s so, so good.
Wow. Brilliant. And listen. So, um, how many months are we in now? We’re into about.
Oh man. Oh, close to it. It’s September to now maybe a little less. I don’t, I can’t count. So yeah, about nine months.
Yes. And tell us the numbers that came off the presses yesterday with your membership.
So as of a few weeks ago, we have 675,000 rewards members. Not just downloads. That means they actually registered. So they filled out. The quote, unquote paperwork, right. Filled out all the information and shared it with us and, um, started using the app. So we are, we’re very excited about that. We’re continuing to grow. We know that with any launch of any type of loyalty program or any program for that matter, it takes awhile to build from infancy up. And so we couldn’t be more proud of the team that’s worked on this as well as the numbers we’re seeing come through.
That is exceptional. And I know again, I just was looking on your website Erin. So it’s actually quite extraordinary. I mean, I just never work in businesses at this scale, but 3 million guests a week are coming through you, your restaurants. It’s absolutely incredible.
People need their tacos. People need their tacos.
Totally. Wonderful. Well, I’m totally, totally convinced. And do you believe in the Pareto Principle, Erin. You know, this 80 20 rule that we talk about, um, you know, given that you’ve had so much expertise and I do want to ask you about the, uh, the Vegas experience, but just as a general principle, um, what’s your view on that? Do you think that it is, you know, a really important core group of people that you’re looking to engage and, and reward?
Absolutely. We, when we set out to launch this, I told someone internally, like not, everybody’s going to be a loyalty member. Everyone’s going to use Del Yeah Rewards. They’re just not right.
You’re going to have many people that come in once they’re not going to come back, they’re on a road trip. Right. They stopped at a, they’re not going to sit there and download the app. Right. Um, but there is a core group of people and we want to make sure we’re rewarding them and continuing to grow that. And our goal is to drive more of that core group of people. Right? Um, we’re not Starbucks. We don’t have a frequency of Starbucks, right? Like that, it’s a little bit different in how they’re set up. Um, but if we can continue to make the app sticky, continue to evolve it because this is not field of dreams. If you build it, they don’t just show up. Right. They don’t just come like. Yeah, it is to continue to iterate on it, to build it, and to entice more folks to interact with us.
I’m, I’m a huge proponent of that, Erin, because I think we all went through the phase, you know, in the days of plastic loyalty cards, where our wallets got stuffed and we got frustrated with too many, you know, Physical cards then, of course, we loved digital and we figured that if we built it, they would come. And for a while, that might have been true. But certainly now, if somebody wants me to download an app, I’m absolutely not going to do it unless I know there’s either two tacos at the end of it for me, or,
and then all the, all the apps out there, all the, the log-ins you have, and then you have to do two factor and it’s texting you and yeah. Ah, like it’s a lot for a customer to say, Hey, I want to interact so badly that I’m willing to go through this with you. Right. Let alone setting up the password that, and then it says like, sometimes I’ll type in a password two or three times they’ll be like not the right password. And I’m like, I swear, I know what my password is. And then I’ll be like, fine, I’ll reset my password. And then I’ll be like, can’t use the same password you already used. I was like, how is that possible? Like, how is that possible? So it is a challenge for us. All humans at this point, because we do have so many, log-ins so many passwords, so many, two factors that we have to be cognizant of it,
For sure. I regularly argue with my phone when it tells me exactly that, you know, you’ve used that password before, but I gave it anyway. Yeah, super funny. But I also really like actually, and this is probably a brand copywriting piece as well, Erin, but you know, even the, the name Del Yeah. I think is super cute. And I saw actually, just when you were talking about the app, when it’s on the website, it says, talk about easy. So the play on words, I think the, um, I suppose the intelligence behind us, I often feel that clever copyrighting. It’s really a missed opportunity. So many brands don’t seem to put those details in place that make people actually like amuse people like me who go well, that’s clever.
Yeah. I completely agree. Our brand team, our CMO. They do a phenomenal job at this. Kimberly prices are director Brandon. She is outstanding at making sure that nothing goes out the door without that finishing touch on it. So kudos to them because without them. We’re building cool stuff, but unless you can understand it, it doesn’t matter.
For sure. You’re absolutely right. Yes. Yeah. And it is. And it’s across, as you said, everything from user experience Experience just to the, uh, the brand personality, like I think there’s just all of those details actually have to align in a way that feels consistent for the consumer, actually to think that we’ve paid that much attention, that nothing has been left on done or unfinished, I guess.
Yeah. Lovely. So just take me back then, uh, Erin, to your, Airtimes in Vegas. And it’s a sector, actually, I have zero experience of, um, even personally as in, I’ve been there at a conference, but literally not even on, on a vacation or on holiday. Um, but I’ve always been fascinated as to, you know, the extent of what loyalty initiatives programs and kind of behavior change you’ve seen there. So. I would just love to get some insights from your, airtimes working in the casino industry.
So, because casinos were one of my first positions in marketing or my first position, I didn’t know how ahead of the game we were. I had no idea, right? Like I thought everybody was doing what we were doing, never realizing. And my first position at Caesars entertainment. I called myself the glorified PowerPoint, clicker. They needed a PowerPoint clicker and an executive meeting. And I was like, I’ll do it right. I was a coordinator and I’d go in there and people always ask me, why are you going in there? Why are you volunteering for this such a waste of time?
And I was like, no. I said, I get to sit in executive meetings and understand what they’re talking about, and take information and go, all right, what is average deal? What is that? How does that factor in, how do we look at analytics? That was really such a great learning experience for me. And then being able to do all my own ad planning and buying the great thing about Vegas is you book your hotel room on the internet, right? Like you always did. It was never like there was a call center, but we could track that too. So, um, all really positive experiences, uh, We were proximity targeting, um, or Bluetooth targeting. We rolled that out before the rest of the world knew what they were doing. So I remember a company coming to me and said, we’ll test this for you. We’re going to put this device, which we call them beacons now. But back then they just called it. This is a proximity device. And. Put it behind the bar. And when someone comes up, if they have Bluetooth turned on, which no one did at that time, because they all had unlimited data plans. So why would you have that on Bluetooth devices? They weren’t really a thing. and, you only turned it on if you really needed it. Right. Or if they connected to the wifi, which again, unlimited data plans. Why are you connecting it to our public wifi? They’re not. Very small group of people at that time, they came up and had Bluetooth turned on, or for some reason we’re connected to our wifi. We could send them a message and ad, and I was like, this is so great. But unfortunately the scale wasn’t there, the scale didn’t show up until we got rid of unlimited data plans until we get rid of ’em or we started getting people that have auto Bluetooth turned on, and then we’re able to use that. But we were testing that. Years ago. The other thing, there were a couple other things we tested too that were things that just put us ahead of our time. Not realizing that they did right. We thought they were cool and new and exciting. But we’d look at them and go, oh, this might never take off. Right. We didn’t know that Bluetooth was going to always be enabled or the unlimited data plans were going to go away. So it was really exciting to be on the forefront of all that. Now it wasn’t until I went from Caesars, MGM to Palms and then left Las Vegas. And when I left Las Vegas was the first time I was kind of, my eyes were open to, oh, man. We are really ahead. Like we’re really far ahead of everyone else. And from a loyalty standpoint, we quickly, um, looking at all the different tiers they had, right. Uh, all the way up through seven-star at, at like, um, Caesars, you would look at that and the seven star, and they had to carry a card, right? They had a card, there was no app at the time you carried a card. Uh, it was really, really interesting to, to watch who fell into what category and how much they had to play in order to, and how long. So it wasn’t just, did you play a certain amount of money? It was. How much money did you play over? What amount of time? On what game you could pinpoint the floor that the machine was on, that they were using. You knew how many drinks they were ordering. You knew everything about them to understand what investment the casino wanted to make back to the person to continue to drive their behavior.
It’s absolutely fascinating. And I guess the part that I’ve always wondered about just from a, let’s say the darker side of human behavior, which is inevitable, was there ever a point where the program was, you know, that you, you stopped trying to incentivize behavior, if you kind of felt that maybe they were, you know, gambling to access, for example, is
That something that, uh, In Las Vegas, any casino takes very, very seriously. Right. And so they monitor all of that and yes, they step in when necessary. Again, it’s something that just, not even legally, but morally, they take very, very, very seriously.
I’m very glad to hear that. Yeah. Yeah. Hope you don’t mind me asking, but uh,
No. And we should with anything, right? Like that’s the same way that if you go to a bar next to your house, if you’re drinking an excess, they’re going to cut you off. Right. So it’s not because of. They’re going to, they probably still want to sell you more drinks, but again, moral ethics taking that very seriously. So. Well, it is, and I truly believe Las Vegas is an amazing place. It is still my happy place. Both my daughters were born there and, um, I love it. Uh, w as any city, things can go crazy. Right. But for sure, yeah, it is a wonderful, wonderful place because people go there just to have a good time. They just want to have fun.
Yes. Yes. But I also want to compliment you Erin, on what sounds like a very carefully planned strategic move in terms of showing up to do the clicking, because
I didn’t know it was strategic at the time. I just thought I had won. So in Hamilton, there’s this. The room where it happens, right. He just wants to be in the room where everything’s happening. And that’s how I was like, fear of missing out. Like I was like, how do I get behind that door? I want to be in there. And so they said, we need a PowerPoint clicker. I was like in I’m in let me in. Brilliant. Um, it was, I, I look back on a lot of my life decisions. And I wouldn’t say there was like a five-year plan or a strategy thought in my head, it was just, all right. I want to get there. What do I need to do to back into this? Right. Yeah. I guess that is a strategy.
It is a strategy and it’s super clear and it might sound, you know, or might and feel like, okay, this is actually going to be an incredible decision. But again, looking back, I’m sure with your own daughters, for example, when they do start working or whatever, don’t know what age they are now, but. You know, um, I’m hoping that people listening Erin now, if there may be, uh, you know, the early stages of their career, they might find an opportunity to M to, to take on a role. That’s a coordinating role, for example, in order to get either visibility or insights, or just to hear the language and the presence and the kind of conversations that hop around a table like that. I just think I wish I’d had that. So I really liked what you did.
Absorbing the information is key. And I mentor a lot of, uh, young women who will say, I don’t know if I should take this role. And I was like, well, let’s look at what this opens you up to and exposes you to defining whether it’s the right thing. Or I have someone come to me once and they go, should I take this manager role at this? Really big company, or should I take this? But the shoe goes, or I could go to this really, really small company and take this like senior director role. And I was like, well, let’s assess it. And all she could hear was the title. Right. That’s all she could hear. And I was like, let’s look at both things. And the manager role was actually better for her. It got her on the track of where she wanted to go. If we hadn’t have flushed that out and discussed it together, she would have gone after the title. And it’s not always like titles are nice, but it’s not always about that.
For sure. Absolutely. And small companies, sometimes they’re just lacking either in budget or vision, for example. So, you know, going into a bigger company does have an awful lot of opportunity. I think so, uh, so that sounds like really good advice you gave her.
Oh, I hope so.
Oh, brilliant. Brilliant. The other main area wants to talk to you about Erin was just an innovation and I suppose your, your title is very much in the marketing technology piece. And I know one of the things you did do when you joined Del Taco was you did replatform the program. So just wanted to understand, you know, what you came from and to, you know, guided that decision or drove it, I suppose, because it is a big decision, I guess. And it’s a lot of work and a lot of money.
It was a lot of work that is like the understatement of the century. Uh, we did replatform, we replatformed from old, um, systems to a one-stop solution. And with this one-step solution, that meant we were replatforming email. We launched SMS. We had not had that before we launched loyalty. We had not had that before we replatform the CDP. Um, all of it like a CRM, everything altogether in one, and we did everything from beginning from signing contract to launching everything in nine months. And I said like, some people might grow humans in nine months. We grew this innovative tech stack in nine months. So, uh, again, something that I am unbelievably proud of for our team, for myself, for everyone that we worked with, it did not come without um, plenty of hiccups and, um, fires, but we do this because we love it and I’ve never to be fair. I’ve never been part of a tech rollout. That’s been like, where you go, wow. That went super smooth. Right? Like you say, it went super smooth considering all those fires, but yeah, it was wonderful. And so. It’s one of the, when people say like, what are you most proud of in your career? It will be one of them that we did all of that in nine months.
Yeah. Yeah. Wow. And anything you wouldn’t do again? I mean, when you, when you look back now, I mean, it was obviously I to
Do it in nine months.
Luckily we, I work with a lot of very dedicated individuals who put in a ton of time, my team, we have a very lean team internally in marketing technology. And the amount of dedication that they have is unwavering. They are going to do it until the job’s done. They care about our customers. And so that part made it very easy, but it was, it was hard to get it where it needed to be and oftentimes people who do not work in marketing technology will hear that. Well, that seems fine. That seems like you had a long time, right? Like how long should this really take and anyone who works in marketing technology goes, holy cow, you did that. Right? Like, they’re like, oh my gosh, they understand. So a phenomenal thing. And we did it without. Uh, having like a agency, right. We work directly with the software solution and then our lean internal team. So again, what we were able to build is, is top notch with the resources and the time we had.
Okay. Well, congratulations. That’s clearly something you’re hugely proud of. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I’ve always stayed away from the tech side, Erin because it scares me and I just don’t even have the interest or the language or the patients clearly for the late nights involved. So, um, yes, I’m full of admiration for that kind of stuff. So
That makes you feel better. It scares me too, realize that like, Oh, I can get this, like, all right.
I understand the words. You’re now saying, like, after Google searching half the words people used to say to me, I’d be like, all right, I can do this.
Yeah. Yeah. Totally got API down. I mean, that is true. Yeah.
So future-wise then for Del Yeah Rewards, Erin and we’ve talked all fair, I suppose about, you know, there’s a lot of things happening, like subscription. Which we do. I think agree is, you know, old business models, repackaged in a clever way, which, um, you know, I do think makes sense, but I do think there’s a lot more to come. So you mentioned SMS, for example, being something you’re doing for the first time. I’m personally passionate about messaging platforms of all sorts. I’m sure that this is going to be super fun ways. We’re going to start connecting with people for us on things like WhatsApp, for example, in this country. But what do you see in the future as your, I suppose, priorities now?
So you want to talk to the consumer. We’ve said this for years. You wanna talk to the consumer where the consumer is. So it’s a consumer likes texts. Then you talk to them in texts. If they like messaging other messaging platforms, you talk to them in those, I will tell you as a consumer. I spend a good portion of my responses in my phone going, sorry for the delay. Cause I didn’t see, I had messages there, right? Like there’s so many different places someone can message me. Sure. But if texts is the fastest way to get ahold of me, right. It’s fastest way. 98% of texts are read within four minutes of receiving them. And that includes. Into the bathroom or in the shower. So, you know, they’re going to see it. Um, but not everybody texts messages me. Right? Some companies choose to email me while I might not see your message, or they may choose to send me a message through a different channel while I might not see that. Or I see a little tiny notification next to my app. I might not see that. Right. Um, so it just depends on where the consumer wants to be message. I think innovation wise, continuing to drive the Del Yeah Rewards and our SIS ecosystem that we built and continuing to make that sticky and engaging for the consumer will be something that constantly challenges us as well as excites us to be able to do for the consumer. Similar to that Starbucks game I talked about. Right. And hopefully, uh, I hope other people have the exact same experience that I had with it. So. Seems to be what they set out to do. It will be what we continue to set out to do. And then learning from our peers, like you said, subscriptions, we saw subscriptions skyrocket. Right? And now I don’t feel like the hubbub is as much about them, like skyrocketed and the coolness factor dropped off.
Well, why don’t you want to put your plugins on a subscription model and why don’t you want to do this? And like everything in my life can’t be subscription. Right? And now all of a sudden you have all these, um, apps show up that say, well, we can go through your billing and figure out how many subscriptions do you have and let you cancel them because you’re spending too much money. So like it’s reversed itself in someways. Yeah, it’s still there. There are still people that have it. We’ve seen some restaurants test it. We, and then of course it were, Amazon was like the first to the party saying like, Hey subscription. I also believe that subscriptions existed before they were coined subscriptions. They were just called different things. Right. The fact that a magazine for years would show up at my house every single month. Yeah. That was a subscription, but we didn’t, I mean, we just coined it and let it take off for a while.
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And I do think, you know, some of the, the timing for some of the restaurants, for sure. I mean, we’ve had them on the show, for example, you know, I think we’re served quite well actually by the pandemic, for example. So I think in times of uncertainty, there was a lot to be said for, for example, unlimited coffee for a fixed price per month. Whatever it is that they launched. So I think there was a degree of that, the luck factor, as well as, you know, obviously some goods and innovation and, and, and intention to be, to be different. So, um, yeah, I think we’ll see a lot more change coming in that space, but yeah, it’s you’re right. I think it was super sexy for about, uh, two years. And now it’s like, okay, now we’re all talking about NFTs and I don’t know what, so
Yes, yes, yes, yes. I agree. And I do think the pandemic with anyone. Some businesses were hurt. Some businesses exploded. It just depends on the business. Right? We have drive-throughs. Yeah. So during a time where people couldn’t walk into a business during a time where people were, I mean, truthfully at the beginning of the pandemic, people were scared to interface with other humans. That’s that is like societal issue, number one, right? Like we were scared to interface with people who were outside of our house. Yeah. Sometimes people that were in that side of our households total. So having a drive through where you can get your food quick, you didn’t have to even look at someone. Right. All of a sudden people stopped using cash. We sum our credit cards. All of those things definitely benefited Del Taco in that respect. Cause we had that drive through. Right. Um, but I do think that. As we’re now. I mean, we’re now at a point where people are like, they are craving interacting, they’re craving a hug from someone. Right. Most people, some people. Um, so it’ll be interesting how this, all there was talk last year of like, well, what will stick? What won’t stick, right? Like from the innovations that happen, do we still have to have plexiglass between you and me every time we talk to each other, right? Like those things and figuring that out will be very, very interesting.
I think for sure. And are you, you know, interested in the metaverse for example, just because it is the hot topic of the moment, are you thinking about that from a Del Yeah Rewards perspective?
Oh man, it is, you are right. That it is the hot topic of the moment. And if one more person messages me going, I want to sell you the metaverse I’m like, what does that mean? Um, totally. We have done, we did a, a Twitch stuff case In the a Taco tour game that was built through Minecraft last year. That was fun. That definitely was dabbling in the metaverse, but we were eye on it across the board as to what. Brands are doing, not just restaurants, but other brands, um, NFTs, right? Like it took me like three podcasts and like Googling to truly understand and FTS. And there are still times where someone says something and I’m like, let me go back to the drawing board. Hold on. But, um, It’s very interesting to me to keep on top of, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re all going to play in it. Right.
I totally agree. I think it’s very important to keep Googling and keep learning for sure. And I think for me, certainly it’s not until I think I try and sell one or buy one or maybe both. But I’ll probably have that at least, uh, an informed customer decision to go. I don’t know who this will make sense for, but let’s be at least understand the, uh, the customer journey, you know, because there is just so much involved, so, and okay. So good to hear that, um, from, from your perspective, anyway, I’m not missing out on anything. Very interested though. I mean, my final question would be literally, I mean, how did that perform in terms of Twitch and Minecraft? Was it, uh, you know, did it exceed your expectations or is it something that actually delivered anything that was tangible for you?
Yeah, so we partnered with DoorDash for it, and it was, um, very much a brand awareness play.
And I think on that respect, it was good. The impressions we got, the people that interacted with it, I think there is a small segment of Americans that truly understand what medicine first means. Right. Um, So you’re working already with a small segment, let alone taking their small segment and lettering that to our smell segment of Del Taco. Totally like, and trying to overlap it, but definitely performed in. We keep an eye on what other brands are doing and how they’re performing as well, because that’s the only way we continue to challenge each other. And, um, it’s a, it’s a small space when you get into it.
It’s small, but it’s certainly fun. Aaron. It sounds like you enjoy the fun side. Yeah. The work should be fun if my job ever gets so boring that like, I’m like, Ugh, this sucks. I should be doing something else. I get, it needs to be a good time. We spend more time at work than we do.
You’re absolutely right. So listen on that note, um, is there anything else, Aaron, that, uh, you think our listeners would be interested in in terms of Del Taco, Del Rewards or any, I suppose parting words of wisdom?
Um, I will say that if you don’t have the Del Taco app and you live anywhere around one, I encourage you to download it and engage with us. Um, And that’s it.
Okay. Totally. If people want to link in with you, for example, and, uh, connect and maybe swap some ideas and stuff, are you okay with that?
Yeah. You can find me on any social media platform out there in fact that my daughter and I make tik toks together sometimes. So wherever you want to find me.
Okay, well, I’ll make sure we link to you as well in the show notes. So listen, on that note, Erin, it has been a really fun conversation. I’m a huge fan of what you’ve done with that Del Yeah Rewards and super exciting program. I’ll be waiting to see the press release when you cross the million members. I’m sure that’s not too far away and hope you’ll come back on the show and join us again in the future to share all of your success stories.
Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.
Thanks. Erin Levzow, Vice President of Marketing Technology at Del Taco. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.
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