Grotto Pizza Triples Loyalty Club Memberships With Paytronix

With successful loyalty programs in place, retailers and restaurants have the ability to boost engagement and sales, turning one-time buyers into loyal customers.

Grotto Pizza, a casual dining restaurant with 21 locations in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, has ramped up its loyalty efforts using the Paytronix Rewards Platform. Within a month of re-launching its Swirl Rewards Club program on Paytronix, overall membership tripled.

The Swirl Rewards Club program has a far reach among Grotto Pizza guests, with almost half (48%) of all customers serving as registered members. Of the guests signed up for the loyalty program, 86% have opted in to receive email updates and promotions. 


With its new loyalty program, Grotto Pizza gives consumers more ways to participate and collect their rewards. Loyalty club members can redeem rewards using a physical card, their registered phone number or the Grotto Pizza Rewards mobile app.

“With that app, we’re actually exploring opportunities for geo-fencing for when Swirl Rewards Club members get close to a Grotto Pizza,” said Vinnie DiNatale, Director of Marketing at Grotto Pizza. “We can just alert them with something as simple as reminding them they have a free junior birthday pizza on their account. If they walk close by a location at 2:30, we can send them a pop-up asking them to join our happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m..”

Grotto Pizza began its relationship with Paytronix two years ago when it first migrated the Swirl Rewards Club to the Paytronix Rewards Platform. The primary goals, according to Grotto Pizza executives, were to boost guest traffic during off-peak winter hours and increase traffic on weekday evenings.

“We have a lot of locations in the beach and resort areas, so we’re closer to being full in the summer season,” DiNatale explained in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You don’t have to do as many discounts and promotions. In January, during the post-holiday period, traffic slows down and some of our stores are closed. So we asked ourselves: What we could do to generate more business? The low-hanging fruit was the big Grotto fan base that lives in these areas year round, and we targeted the promotion toward those best guests.”

To address these challenges, Grotto Pizza rolled out a “Winter Wednesday” promotion, which was designed to help increase off-season traffic. And with the “Winter Wednesday” promotion in place, Grotto Pizza was able to increase store traffic by 84%. The restaurant chain also experienced a 65% increase in loyalty guest spending, and checks for loyalty club members were 10% higher on average.

A Data-Driven Approach To Customer Loyalty

Prior to working with Paytronix, the loyalty program functioned independently from the restaurant’s gift card system and email database. The overall lack of integration between systems and inability to collect and respond to customer data made promotion planning extremely difficult. But with Paytronix, Grotto Pizza can ensure more seamless integration and, in turn, craft more data-driven offers and promotions.

“Working with Paytronix, we can take all three of those functions — email, gift cards and loyalty — and put them all under one umbrella,” DiNatale said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Now, we can collect data from loyalty members and use the email program through Paytronix to communicate with them, drive them to locations and spend more.”

Having access to this data enables DiNatale and the Grotto team to look at the rewards programs in a more analytical fashion, and encourages them to ask more questions about their customer profiles. Now, team members have a clearer understanding of customers’ average age, their location, the number of times they visit a location, and their average spend throughout the year.

“Those were just all unknown questions,” DiNatale explained. “We had a feel for our main demographic, but we didn’t know for sure. You could ask different managers and they would have different ideas. Some of the intuition was right, while some results ended up totally surprising us. There’s a lot of information there that we didn’t have before.”

Advanced features and capabilities within the Paytronix platform also have empowered Grotto Pizza to experiment with different rewards tactics. For example, during National Pizza Month (October), the restaurant chain implemented an Instant Wins program. During the promotion, every registered loyalty member that entered a restaurant had a special reward or coupon added to their account. Over the years, Grotto Pizza also has implemented birthday rewards, win back campaigns designed for infrequent guests and even rewards for donating to charitable causes.

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