Industry News | June 25, 2009

Gas and Convenience Chain Devises Loyalty Program

Certified Oil Company, an Ohio-based operator of gas stations and convenience stores, announced that its new "Certified Savings Program," a three-level customer loyalty program, is being expanded to quick service, fast casual, family style, and other value-based restaurant formats. The program is being offered in and around Columbus, Ohio, and will expand to other geographic areas once launched, as well as to other businesses, such as grocery stores, drug stores, and movie theaters.

Certified Savings is currently available at more than 20 of Certified’s central Ohio gas and convenience store locations, and the company is now extending the loyalty program to restaurant owners and their customers. The overarching goal of the initiative is to develop and maintain loyalty among current and future customers (Certified’s as well as restaurants’), while financially rewarding them for their continued patronage.

Through this new program, restaurant partners will be able to reward customers with Certified Savings points that can be used to obtain fuel discounts of up to one dollar per gallon at participating Certified Oil locations. Unlike other programs that require complete point of sale system integration, Certified Savings requires minimal upfront costs.

"The program provides a low-cost solution to enable restaurants to provide dining rewards to build sales," says Lauren Brown, Certified Savings program administrator. "Restaurant partners will also enjoy additional traffic driven to their businesses from our existing cardholder base."

"By adding a variety of quality partners, Certified Savings card holders will be able to quickly earn valuable gasoline discounts for dining at participating restaurants," says Greg Ehrlich, COO of Certified Oil. "Consumers are looking for bargains now more than ever before, and Certified Savings provides restaurant owners with a simple, cost-effective way to deliver added consumer value and grow market share."

All Certified Savings cardholders, including customers of participating restaurants, are provided with benefits at Certified convenience stores and gas stations. Level one benefits include product discounts and automatic entry into club programs, in which customers buy a designated quantity of a product—cups of coffee, for instance—with the next one being free. At this level, members are rewarded with points on their purchases and redemption options that include gasoline discounts and free merchandise.

At level two (which also incorporates level one), cardholders are provided the option of receiving two cents off per gallon of gasoline for enrolling their card for Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment. The ACH debit payment plan allows the cardholder to transfer funds by authorizing a party (Certified, in this case) to electronically withdraw funds from the cardholder’s checking account. This basically converts the loyalty card into a payment vehicle similar to a debit card, but with significantly lower processing fees, enabling Certified to pass on some of the savings.

At level three (which includes levels one and two), cardholders are offered three cents off per gallon of gasoline for paying cash.

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