Company Finds Passion In Driving Customers Through the Door
by Key Snodgress
Marketing is changing –– rapidly –– and consumers are no longer as moved to action by a generic email blast, no matter how well crafted. They’re also more discerning and savvy when it comes to the value they must receive before they’re willing to part with their personal data. As a result, old-school marketing has become less effective, but at the same time, new-age digital efforts are complicated, time consuming and costly.
Enter FetchRev, a company that addresses these pain points for FEC owners, operators and GMs, as well as their customers. In simple terms, FetchRev uses a variety of tools to collect customer data (names, birthdays, email addresses, etc.) and then curates relevant, personalized promotional contact with those customers to drive foot traffic through the door, especially encouraging repeat visits. Like the retriever in their logo, the software suite fetches the revenue created by more foot traffic.
Strong Value Proposition
Company founder and CEO Brandon Willey said rather than a deep dive into the many features of their software, what’s more essential to “getting” the value FetchRev brings is knowing the philosophy that drives them.
“It’s important to understand a little bit of our story and our vision about why we exist, what we’re trying to do and where we’re trying to disrupt or be different than the standard marketing tools out there today. Laying the foundation and painting the pain points we’re trying to solve speaks to what we’ve been doing over the last several years at FetchRev to help drive value,” Willey said, “and how what we’ve been doing has informed where we need to go next…and ultimately where the digital marketing industry needs to go next.”
Willey said that for the consumer, value and relevance are key. Companies always worry about whether their marketing efforts are reaching their target audience, but he asserts, “If you’re providing relevance and value to your target audience, they’re even likely to come find you!
“I love to beat the drum that you can’t just keep doing things the same old way,” Willey said. “The newsletters you used to send using the typical email services out there carry very little weight to the consumer today. In fact, arguably, they’re a waste of your time and you shouldn’t be doing them.”
He stressed, “If you want to remain relevant for your guests, you must be willing to make a change. We’re meeting those consumer and business needs today, but we recognize that even with what we offer, we’re not far enough along and must continue to work and evolve.”
Using one of his clients as an example, Jake’s Unlimited, a 90,000-square-foot food and fun center in Mesa, Ariz. (see the case study sidebar later on), Willey said, “A Jake’s Unlimited should not be sending out newsletters, unless there’s a specific event to promote.
“If they still want to send out a newsletter, that’s fine as long as it provides value and it’s relevant,” Willey said. “As a consumer, value and relevance has to do with whether I want to see something from Jake’s Unlimited today. And if I do, do I want to see it because there’s some sort of value alignment? Meaning, am I getting some sort of promotion or offer, or is it telling me about an event that’s relevant to me?”
When most FECs think about sending marketing messages, it’s a one-to-many push, Willey explained. “They’ve got a certain idea and they assume it’s a good plan to send it to everybody and further, that everybody wants to receive it. Well, that’s not true. Look at the differences even within basic gender- and age-based segmentation among consumers. It you take the Jake’s Unlimited database of adults as an example, they have single adults, young adults that come in together for a work party, moms with kids, dads with kids, moms with older kids, and so on.
“All of a sudden, sending out this one newsletter or event announcement to a center’s entire database about breakfast with Santa in December is no longer relevant,” he continued. “You’ve lost interest for 80 percent of your potential consumer base by sending that one message out to everybody. The result is typically less engagement because people either unsubscribe because the message wasn’t relevant, or they just lose interest and ignore all future ads, emails, Facebook advertisements or anything else that might come from Jake’s Unlimited.”
To effectively reach today’s consumers, Willey asserts that marketing messages have to be personalized and finely honed, a process that takes a lot of horsepower if you are or your staff is working with conventional tools.
Willey explained, “If I’m Jeremy Hoyum, co-owner and GM of Jake’s, I’ve got to try to segment my customer database. Now, whenever I want to send something out, I have to hire a marketing team, or have a member of my staff go build that segmentation to drive greater value and personalization and ultimately greater conversion. It takes a lot of time and expertise.”
He says there are software tools that give you the ability to do it but most of them are incredibly complex. “Ultimately, when you go and buy one of those platforms, you’re buying yourself a job. You’re paying an email service around $200 a month for your database/list size, but you still have to go and build everything inside their platform. And even after all that effort, it’s still not going to be personalized to the consumers you’re ultimately trying to reach.
And it’s out of these marketing pain points FetchRev was born.
“At the end of the day, the reason businesses are using these other email marketing and customer engagement tools is to get people in the door, either past customers returning or first-timers. FECs are trying all these different things, spending a lot of money and expending a lot of effort in a DIY effort to drive foot traffic,” he said.
“How FetchRev falls in the mix today is by providing a fully automated foot traffic-creation system. Our platform starts by helping an FEC collect customer information through different medium, including emails, cellphone numbers and birthdays of parents and kids. You can’t market to your customers if you don’t have their data!
Barking Up the Right Tree
There are a number of ways FetchRev captures data from willing customers. On FEC websites, they install data-collecting popups that offers a coupon in exchange for the visitor’s email address.
“Again, what we’re doing is value-driven,” Willey said. “That’s important. What’s the incentive for a consumer to give you an email address? It’s to get a coupon. What’s the incentive for them to enter birthdays? It’s so they can join your birthday club and receive a free party upgrade or a $5 game card on your kid’s birthday or some other incentive.”
FetchRev also sets up guest WiFi through wireless access points throughout the fun center. “Let’s say Mom, Dad or the kids want to post something to Instagram, they probably don’t want to use their own cell data to do that,” Willey suggested. “Instead, they’re willing to trade their email address for free access through the solution FetchRev provides. With free WiFi, customers tend to stay – and spend – longer. Again, it’s all about value.”
What takes their platform to the next level is that once the system has collected a guest’s email address and as soon as they leave the location, the customer receives a bounce-back coupon with a limited time offer to get them to come back in the door and more quickly. “Here’s this coupon, here’s this value, come back inside. Again, relevant because they were in, and it’s immediate and real-time, providing value,” he said.
Most importantly, he contends, it’s a singular call-to-action to that specific consumer that drives an impulse purchase or claim. When they get that email or SMS, it’s a real simple “claim this coupon” or “put it on your credit card and purchase this offer.” They think, “Oh, $25’s worth of bowling for $20, right? Great, I’ll buy that right now,” and put it on their credit card. Again, value and relevance to the consumer equals money and returning foot traffic for the business.
Howard McAuliffe of Pinnacle Entertainment Group said it’s this “buy now” feature that sets FetchRev apart the most. “First of all, I can’t think of anyone else who does exactly what they do. That’s why we like them, and also because they’re always evolving. With the ‘buy now’ feature, you can start selling even when you’re closed. Sometimes a facility, say a bowling center, will close for major renovations. By using FetchRev and its existing customer database, they can be selling game room packages while that modernization is going on. It’s nice to have that revenue coming in.”
McAuliffe continued, “They’re an example of how companies should always evolve and get better. They wanted to help customers capture more data so they developed branded WiFi access points to do that. They also work to integrate with other systems like POS to incorporate that customer data, too.” (Roller, Tray, Semnox, CenterEdge, Party Center and Active8 systems are among the current integrations and Willey said work is underway with Embed, Clubspeed and others.)
It’s a strategy to reach customers in a number of different ways to ensure they find the path to each in a way that’s going to resonate most with them.
“What’s important,” Willey said, “is that we’re not just sending messages out over email. We can map our promotions into multiple, different social media channels. Again, it’s all about being relevant to the consumer. That consumer may not ever check their email, but they probably check their Facebook every day. So, if we have that email address, our system automatically targets that person on Facebook with that same offer.
“Now, when Mom or Dad is sitting in line waiting to drop their kid off in the morning, they’re scrolling through Facebook and they see this offer for Jake’s Unlimited,” he said. “They see that offer and buy it, right there, right from Facebook, right on impulse. And then our system sends reminders for them to come back in the door and actually redeem that offer,” he said.
One of the most popular features of the FetchRev platform is collecting birthdays. “Truthfully, having someone’s birthday is like being able to print money!” Willey said. “Our data collectors, website popups and other features gather this information and once we have it in our system, we can then send out different offers 45 days, 30 days, 15 days and even two days before a birthday. All of these can be unique offers, different for each stage of the process.”
As an example, Little Joey has a birthday coming up, so 45 days out, FetchRev sends a promotion to his mom about booking a party: “Claim this coupon and get a $25 value towards a birthday party upgrade.” Great! Mom claims the coupon, and the system sends a follow up thank you that includes a click-through to online party booking. (FetchRev doesn’t handle the party booking itself, but links with the other programs that do like Party Center and CenterEdge.) FetchRev then follows up with other offers as the birthday approaches, including an offer two days before that might just be a $5 game card if redeemed on the actual birthday.
“What’s important is that all of this is fully automated and hands off,” he said, claiming that FECs can see up to a 50 percent increase in birthday parties booked using FetchRev each month.
In contrast, most FECs process birthday contacts manually. If they use an email service to reach, say, all customers with birthdays in July, someone on staff has to run through the database to create a list and then send out a generic party offer to all of those people. Willey contends this message isn’t personalized enough and since it’s not one-to-one it has a higher chance of landing in spam. Also, a manual approach is not foolproof since staff can forget to send the message on time (or not send it at all).
Bullish Billing Plan
“Today, with platforms such as ours, a customer pays a monthly subscription and some transaction fees on those buy now purchases. But, we believe that if we’re going to call ourselves a foot-traffic platform, we should stand behind that and charge based on results. There’s not another platform out there today –– not a single one –– that charges based on future foot traffic walking in the door,” Willey said.
“Most marketing applications are not only difficult to use, DIY, and myopic in scope, scale and capabilities, but they also charge $300 to $600 a month depending on what you’re using. And there’s no skin in the game for them at all –– along with results they can’t quantify –– so they struggle to show their ROI for their applications,” Willey stated. “We are shifting and changing that, flipping that pricing model on its head, saying, ‘Look, you can pay extra money per month for customization options and additional features, but at the end of the day, you should be able to use our platform for free and you should only have to pay us when somebody makes a purchase.’ It’s a philosophical, fundamental shift. We don’t do anything for you? Alright, don’t pay us.”
Willey says he can have such confidence based on the platform’s results so far. “Our average customer sees at least a 7x return on their money with many getting up into the 20x range.
“This is just the beginning and I get excited about the pain points we’re trying to solve for entertainment centers. It’s foot traffic creation, but it’s not just that. It’s got to be hands-free, hands-off foot traffic generation.
One thing’s clear, Willey and his team firmly believe businesses can’t continue to do things the way they have in the past. “I like to beat the drum about that as much as I can,” he said, promising some exciting developments to be unveiled over the next few months. Visit them at booth #4084 in Orlando and online at www.fetchrev.com, and read more in the two case studies that follow.
Case Study – Billy Thompson, Kate’s Skating Rinks, North Carolina
Kate’s Skating Rinks, with three locations in North Carolina (Hudson, Lowell and Indian Trails), was founded by Bill
y Thompson’s grandmother Kate. All facilities have roller skating (of course) plus game rooms, redemption, large pro shops, big PlaySmart areas for kids and party areas, as well as rooms that can even handle sports banquets and large corporate events like a Halloween party they put on with Daimler Chrysler.
Thompson came to work with FetchRev because he was cold-called by an enthusiastic Kyle Stremme, the company’s VP. “It was funny,” he said, “it was a couple of years ago and I typically don’t ever take cold calls, but Kyle Stremme’s energy on the phone was really good so I listened to his spiel.” They set up a time for Thompson to sit at a computer and go through it and they set up a trial.
He said he was paying for an email marketing service at the time, but wanted to find a way to make his website create revenue rather than just provide information and party booking: “The goal was to implement the FetchRev program and roll the money I was spending with the email service into their program as well, kind of killing two birds with one stone.”
The money he was spending previously was significant – $2,000 per year – but was cautious about abandoning it completely at first so he decided to let the two overlap for a year.
Things worked out so well with FetchRev that Thompson said, “Within the first three months, I just went ahead and dropped the old service.” The message open rate had increased with the new platform and he was able to get a lot more customer data. In the two and a half years he’s been with FetchRev, he’s tripled his customer base with the programs they’ve implemented and now sits at about 16,000 contacts.
“We started getting a lot of foot traffic and could actually promote our website as more than just a source of information, but as the place to find the best deals, discounts and coupons. Now we’re trying to train our customers not to go on Groupon, Google and all that for the deals, but to go straight to the horse’s mouth, our business site where all our latest events and deals pop up right away.”
Thompson stresses that getting the data is just the first step, that it’s what you do with it that makes the difference. “You can collect emails all day long, but if you don’t try to promote or sell to that customer –– or offer a special deal to that person just for being your customer –– the data doesn’t mean a hoot.”
He continued, “The very first month with FetchRev, we made enough sales on the deals we put out there to cover the fee for the entire first year!” He said the buy-now offers customers bought on impulse were especially key. And the revenue stream has been continual: “Every month, usually in the first week, we generally get enough sales to cover that month’s fee.”
Thompson has also had success with the free branded WiFi capability, plus he’s added two tablets at the center that customers can use when they’re waiting for a food order or for their kids to get their skates, for example. They use it to sign up with their email addresses, which takes them to a landing page on their website that says “Welcome to Kate’s Skating Rinks” and gives them a special reward for signing up.
“In the first 10 days we had it, we collected almost 600 new emails. Some of them were already customers of ours, but their emails were not in our system yet. It’s pretty neat.”
Thompson has story after story of how FetchRev increased sales and foot traffic. It might be during the slower summer months when the North Carolina kids would otherwise be outside at the pool or beach. This past summer, they ran some special 10 percent off birthday promotions that increased their overall summertime bookings 15 percent. Or it might be the Christmas in July that netted them $1,000 in gift certificate sales. Or it might be just waking up in the morning and finding out that you’ve sold $300-$400 in coupons while you were asleep.
“The coolest thing about it is when someone goes from booking regular parties to booking them online. It’s like you’re open 24 hours a day at that point,” he said. “I can wake up in the morning and see that I’ve had 10 purchases for a Kate’s coupon at $15 or $30 a pop.” He adds that he sees about an 80 to 85 percent redemption rate on all the purchased deals.
Another example of the impact FetchRev made was with summer skate passes, which Kate’s staff used to take to school kids in four counties. Since some teachers never passed them out and some kids never made it home with the passes, Thompson said they’d only see a 3 to 4 percent return on those passes. “When we got the FetchRev system, we just stopped doing that and instead put the pass on our website and sent it through the email system. We quadrupled the passes we got back! We’ve just been thrilled. Just the money saved in one month on printing costs and man hours and stuff like that, paid for the system that month.
“It turns every single email we send out into a buy-now offer. Our skate lessons have quadrupled since we put them on their system. People buy skate lessons now, with some telling us they didn’t even know we had skate lessons. We have one of the best coaches in the country at one of our rinks and people didn’t even know!”
Thompson is also quick to heap praise on the team at FetchRev. He says he’s pretty hands on, but says they’ll “walk you through the whole thing and hold your hand if you need it held or they’ll give you the ball and tell you to go play. That’s been the coolest thing.”
(visit them at www.katesonline.com)
Case Study – Jeremy Hoyum, Jake’s Unlimited, Mesa, Arizona
Jake’s Unlimited is a 95,000-sq.-ft., big box pizza entertainment facility in Mesa, Ariz. (a suburb of Phoenix) that first opened in 2005. Hoyum, one of the owners, bought it last year, putting $5 million into the remodeling and rebranding of Jake’s Unlimited. Hoyum got his start in the business working in a bowling center and even when stationed in Korea for the military, found himself fixing a bowling facility. Once he left the service and for about 23 years now, he started working in bowling and FECs.
When it comes to what attractions they have at the facility, you might be better off asking what they don’t have. Among the amusements are midway games, 12 lanes of regular bowling, mini bowling, laser tag, a Wisdom Tornado ride, Frog Hopper, teacups, a carousel and 150 video games. All of these are complemented by their full banquet facility, giant restaurant and more.
Hoyum first learned of FetchRev when he was working on the FEC Committee of IAAPA and went to the association’s FEC Summit two years ago. Curious, he spent some time with Brandon Willey to learn about their system and its capability.
“I wasn’t really happy with our email database system,” Hoyum recounted. “We had 95,000 families in our database, but we weren’t really able to convert with what we were doing. So, we started looking at other options.”
FetchRev really shined for them with birthday parties. With most sales coming from referrals and retargeting customers who’d had events there before, they were looking for a way to generate more leads and get new birth dates into the database. Additionally, their existing email system was limited in how you could categorize and subcategorize the contacts.
“For instance, if we had a birthday for a 5-year-old, it had to have its own email address. If we had Mom’s email address, there was no way we could sub-categorize it with her kid’s birthday,” he explained, adding that this made it difficult to properly create monthly birthday campaigns and specials.
“FetchRev’s platform could create that database, get those birthdays and then create automatic campaigns. So, we didn’t have to necessarily depend on our staff to execute the callback list at 100 percent. We still do that, too, but we know that everyone is getting some sort of communication from us whether someone called them or not.
“We added their plugin to our website so people could join our coupon/discount club and also put their birthdays and anniversary in there. Within a week, we had 1,300 new birthday leads,” Hoyum said. “Now, that’s not completely just straight new leads –– we did retarget our own list along with it, adding in birthdays –– but a lot of it was new.”
Jake’s Unlimited is also using FetchRev’s WiFi program. They offered free connectivity before, but now in order to use it, customers have to enter either their own or their child’s birthday. “In two months, that’s generated another 1,700 email leads for birthday parties. As long as we can convert those, that’s giving us the capability to create new leads to generate new business,” he said.
Asked if it’s a reduction of how hands-on the staff needs to be in marketing to customers, he said, “It’s really more of a reduction in how critical a failure can be. If let’s say, some person calls out sick who was supposed to be working on the list that day and that list becomes forgotten, those people are still being touched even if those phone calls aren’t happening. So, it adds another layer of security in ensuring we’re reaching guests.
“I truly think that it’s going to be a great tool moving forward. One of the things I like about FetchRev is how open they are to new ideas and growth,” Hoyum concluded. “We’ve really presented some challenges and asked them to create some things that would match our brand a little bit more and they’ve been really open-minded in working with us on those. Just like anything else, there are going to be problems involved, but their willingness and eagerness to help come to a solution to those problems has been fantastic.”
(visit them online at www.jakesunlimited.com)