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Posted on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

For some restaurants, customer loyalty programs going high tech

By Angela Smith

Customer rewards or loyalty cards, those pieces of plastic or paper that retailers use to track purchases and reward customers for their loyalty, may be dying off in favor of something more high-tech. Several local restaurants are looking at more modern options for encouraging customer loyalty.

FlockTag is an Ann Arbor-based business that allows users to carry one card for multiple businesses. You can redeem deals with the card by tapping your wallet against a sensor.


Ashley's, on South State Street, requires you request to join its loyalty program through an online application. file photo

In the Ann Arbor area, customers can sign up for and use the card at 25 different local businesses. Rewards range from discounts to free items at local businesses like Silvio’s Organic Pizza, BTB Burrito and Cantina and Haifa Falafel.

Many businesses also offer other tech-savvy rewards. Afternoon Delight, at the corner of Liberty Street and Fifth Avenue, has been offering specials on its Facebook page for the past six months or so. But owner Tom Hackett says the business' loyalty card is a must for frequent diners.

“Everybody carries a card, every Saturday and Sunday. I don’t care who you are, if you are here, you have a card,” Hackett said.

Afternoon Delight has recently changed its rewards program. Where it used to be that 10 punches got you a free lunch, now the reward is $7 off. Hackett says the modification was made to make things easier for customers.

“It’s hard to tell what a lunch is — just a sandwich, or your usual with a drink and a brownie?” he said. Now the program is a bit more streamlined.

“It seemed like that was the average that people were spending; we wanted to make it easier.”

Ashley’s, on South State Street, offers a rather exclusive loyalty program that they call Friends Of The Owner (FOTO).

“It is very successful with about 4,000 guests who have joined and the only way you can join is by submitting a request online," co-owner Jeff More says. "This is much more restrictive compared to many programs that let you sign up as you check out. We feel that we are truly enrolling our frequent guests.”

The Ashely’s website has a section devoted to the program that offers information from how to join to special events and rewards.



Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Customer Loyalty is extremely important for loyalty programs for restaurants. Take a look at this site for more info.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

Do the food vendors make any money selling the customer's email address to companies that collect email adys? Bet they do! I figure that by next Christmas everyone in the U.S.A. will have an iPhone. Any other food vendor gimmick will go the way of D.C. electricity and the buggy whip.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

Gimmick. Just offer good food at good prices and there is no need for cards or loyalty programs. Let people make their own decisions without all this MARKETING! Enough!


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Have they considered branching into the non food market?

music to my ear

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

sounds good, my son makes a copy on his phone of all his loyalty cards and then throws them away, I am like what if your phone system is down that day you need to use the card ,Well they can track you through your phone number. great techno world we live in.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

@music to my ear: "Well they can track you through your phone number. great techno world we live in." Yes and no. I personally don't want any business "tracking" me for any reason. Hope the phone isn't stolen or lost with all that info on it.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:05 p.m. IMO, better than flock or anything else here. Despite the name, you don't have to carry a card anywhere with you. Just an app on your phone that pulls up a QR code when you check out. Done.

Ben Freed

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

FlockTag is a growing local startup that has been branching out to college towns across the Big Ten. You can read more about them here:


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Great customer service and reasonable pricing builds loyalty.

Ben Freed

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Agreed, but new and different ways of delivering both the service and the pricing can help sometimes help more (or less)


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

No effort is more aggressive than that of RUB BBQ. Yes, i signed their list, but I was not anticipating up to 4 emails per day. Spam, it's called.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

Wow that does seem a bit excessive a2cents, my personal preference is to receive no more than 2 emails a month for any business, but even then I have an email address set up just for these type of emails that I only check on a sporadic basis.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

So I might be able to drop the suitcase full of loyalty cards I have to carry for the hundreds of places I do business in, from coffee to gas to lunch to pet food, etc. awesome. Of course I'll still need the 5gb email storage and extra dummy phone line to hold all the spam and telemarketer messages, but it's a start. Actually, I don't participate in any rewards programs or carry any cards. If. Business will not provide me good service at a fair price without giving them my email and phone number or carrying a card, I simply won't do business with them.

music to my ear

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

find them dont get the deals I sure will. you be rich?


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

" Afternoon Delight, at the corner of Liberty Street and Fifth Avenue, has been offering specials on it's Facebook page for the past six months or so." Should be: " Afternoon Delight, at the corner of Liberty Street and Fifth Avenue, has been offering specials on its Facebook page for the past six months or so." Thanks for dropping the apostrophe.

Rick Stevens

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

It's = It is. Really simple. And 'i before e except after c', etc. Not taught anywhere as far as I can tell any more.

Julie Baker

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

You're welcome. It's fixed. :)


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

So what's the "high tech" part?

Ben Freed

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

The "high tech" part is using near field communication technology with flocktag rather than traditional punch cards. It is also the use of social media components to loyalty programs.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

Serve good food at a reasonable price and there is no need for "rewards".


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

Poll: What are the "Top 5 Best Restaurants in Town?" I vote for Red Hawk.


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.



Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.



Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Chuck Wagon

Matt Lang

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

White castle


Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.