The other side of the tech overhaul was Mici’s rewards platform. The list is about 15,000 people. In the old days, Mici would send customers an email, offer a coupon code valid for a specific day, and wait for the rush. It was mass marketing at its purest level. Basically the digital equivalent of stuffing a customer’s mailbox with coupons.
Was it effective? Chaotic is probably a better word. There were no limits. So a guest could take the offer, forward it to seven people, and then arrange the carpool.
“If it was a really good offer it would explode, and we’d have some crazy, busy night,” Schiffer says. “It would really hurt operations. Not only those guests but your other guests who were going to come in anyway. They have a pretty bad experience because you’re not designed to handle a spike in volume like that.”
Mici now segments its customer base. Schiffer says the brand isn’t quite in the big data realm—more like “middle data.” It knows when the last time a guest ordered and how they ordered. Mici can send offers “that you actually care about and want,” Schiffer says.
These are single redemption deals. They might expire. Does the customer love pasta? Here’s a free pasta order if you tack on a pizza in the next three weeks.
“It’s really been great for operations because all the volume doesn’t come in one day,” Schiffer says. “And it’s been great for customers, too.”
The strategy of pulsing deals continuously provided traffic stability. Mici gets to engage with loyal users as well as encourage lapsed ones. And unlike those mass-marketed discounts, Mici isn’t losing business from overflow. On one of those mega nights before, while the busy dining room was a positive to some degree, it also left a lot of transactions in the lobby. And those who experienced subpar service or lengthy wait times were unlikely to return unless they received another big coupon. And then the cycle began again.
Mici didn’t want to rely on deep discounting to drive traffic, which also requires constant marketing. The current setup is geared toward repeat visits and core users, not one-day barrages.
Mici’s website encourages logins in hopes of building this base. Domino’s (and others) court the same kind of checkout journey.
“It’s about making it as easy as possible,” Schiffer says. “You can store five credit cards in there. You can look at any order you’ve ever placed and repeat it with two clicks. All of that stuff is important.”
The 60 percent online figure has been pretty consistent for Mici over the past few years. There are some units, Schiffer says, where the phone hardly rings. The tickets just keep printing.
It’s made Mici rethink grand-opening goals. In the Parker unit, for instance, the brand installed an Internet system that also has a cell phone Internet backup that can handle the static IP its POS requires.
“So we’re going through this huge expense and a large, monthly incremental expense to make sure we’re always online,” he says. “Because one night, if you look at it like this: If you lose $2,000 business in a night because your online ordering crashes because of the Internet—that’s an entire year of the service.”
Not to mention if your online ordering fails a new customer, they’ve probably become a lost customer.