Case Study: Taco Del Mar Sends Time-Specific Offers With Pirq

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As the owner of eight Taco Del Mar franchises in Washington and Oregon, Jeff Masterjohn has to be careful that the promotions he runs don’t interfere with any campaigns being handled by his corporate bosses or fellow franchisees. One way that he has been able to do this is by running day-parted discounts with Pirq, a mobile deals platform that consumers use to find geo-targeted offers on their smartphones. Masterjohn says consumers who use Pirq tend to be younger and more tech-savvy than his usual customers at Taco Del Mar.

What’s the hardest thing about marketing as a franchise owner?
Just trying to identify who your target is going to be, because you may want your target to be someone who, in reality, is not coming in. One thing we’ve always looked at is, how do we get younger? Basically, what we are seeing in our stores is 25 to 54, and we’ve looked at Pirq as a way to reach some of those tech-savvy younger people.

Have you managed to reach younger customers through social media?
In this market for Taco Del Mar, we have television advertising, we have billboards, we have radio — so we’ve kind of hit everything. For me, this is the social end of what we’re doing, besides what corporate does on Facebook and Twitter. We have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for our stores — and we’ve sent out deals through stuff like that — but Pirq has somewhat replaced that for me because corporate would like to have less individual store [Facebook] sites. They would really like to control the message [on] Facebook and Twitter. It’s really hard to get franchisees to agree on offers and things like that, [especially] when you have as many franchises as we do, so this is a way for me to do it where it doesn’t impact them.

What was it about Pirq that initially attracted you to the platform?
They actually contacted me when they first started. Myself and the Kirkland Taco Del Mar were, I think, the first people to sign up. It’s not just the digital media aspect [that was interesting], but the fact that it is a discount but it’s not a coupon. It’s a new way of reaching people, and just about everybody has a smartphone these days. So, [we were] just trying to find a vehicle that broadened our reach.

Was there something that made Pirq more attractive to you than a traditional daily deal?
You can day-part it. You can send your offers out during non-peak times. So we have certain all-day offers that go out, but we also have offers that go out from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and, say, 7 p.m. to close, when you would traditionally be a little bit slower. That aspect of it appealed to me. It’s not like a Groupon where I get $6 for every $12. The offer varies between 20% and 50%-off, and I set the number of offers out there. So you’re totally in control. There are a certain number of offers that are sent out every day. There’s 10 all-day offers, so for those 10 [customers], it doesn’t matter when they redeem [the deal] if they’re lucky enough to get one. People wake up and this is the first thing they do. They check for their Pirq deal so they can plan out what they are going to eat.

Now that you’ve been using Pirq for more than a year, do you have a sense of whether it’s working? Are younger people really coming in and redeeming your offers?
It’s definitely working. Younger, more tech-savvy [people are coming in]. Like I said, we were one of the earliest adopters of Pirq. It kind of started out slow, but I just checked the numbers about a month and a half ago, just to do a little review before I met with them, and we were seeing some locations that had as many as 900 visits a month. Some of our locations are not seeing that, but that’s kind of the high end. We’re seeing anywhere between 10 and 30 visits a day. Some of the stores are seeing really high redemptions. Particularly in the last 60 to 90 days, it has really started to take off. The first one I’m looking at is 851 views at one store, 122 commits, and 7 redemptions. At another store, [our offers had] over 1,000 views. So you are getting out in front of a lot of people.

You mentioned “commits” and “redemptions.” What’s the difference there?
People will “commit” when they come across [the offer] on their phones, but they have to get [to the store] within a certain period of time to redeem it. It comes out of inventory when they commit.

How did you get your staff on board? Was there any training involved?
I had a manager’s meeting and talked with them. We had a Pirq representative come in, and [he] went through the program with them. We decided as a group what kind of documentation we wanted in the store for each Pirq visit. There is a unique number that comes across their smartphone, and we write that on the receipt, and I can tie that back to my statement.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Click here to read more Street Fight local merchant case studies.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.