A Customer Loyalty Success Story – Armadillo Willy’s

Note: As part of a regular series here at the Fivestars blog, we’ll take a look at some of our clients who have achieved success with our one-stop loyalty reward program. We’ve seen proven results for some time – now, we’d like to share them with you to give you a better idea of how implementing our program can help you acquire, grow, and retain your customer base and ultimately, improve your business.

Customer Profile

Name: Armadillo Willy’s
Business Type: Barbecue Restaurant
Location: Eight California Locations (Cupertino, Dublin, Los Altos, San Mateo, 2 in San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale)
Member Since: January 2012

Background: Providing authentic Texas barbecue to Californians

With the goal of providing hungry folks with the best authentic Texas barbecue on the West Coast, Armadillo Willy’s was created in 1983 by founder John Berwald. Everything you’ll find on the menu at Armadillo Willy’s is 100% real barbecue with all oak-fired smoking and cooking – no gas grills, no microwave heating, just low, slow, true barbecue cooking. All of their eight Bay Area locations feature affordably priced entrees (with such barbecue staples as ribs, brisket, chicken, and pulled pork) with a family friendly atmosphere. And while doing things the old fashioned way is just about the ONLY way to properly offer up authentic barbecue cuisine, the same rule does not apply to loyalty reward programs.

When we first became introduced to the team at Armadillo Willy’s, they were using a standard opt-in email service in their efforts to better connect with their customers. With their high number of locations and strong customer satisfaction rate, Armadillo Willy’s had built up a small database of customers from which to extrapolate marketing data and purchasing habits. However, the management team was looking for a solution that would get all of their customers actively engaged and provide more in-depth analytics.


Goals: Connect with customers outside of their doors to drive repeat visits

Although Armadillo Willy’s already had a large contingent of regular customers, they weren’t able to become connected with them once they left the restaurant, nor did they have a strong grasp on repeat consumer analytics. Our goals with the barbecue chain were clear: to obtain a more refined thorough understanding of their businesses through customer spending habits; to institute a new loyalty program that not only got customers engaged but could be easily and seamlessly integrated across all eight locations; to expand upon their initial email database to be able to target different groups of customers with different types of messaging and offers; to increase their presence on a variety of social media platforms; and to reward their most loyal customers to keep them coming back to the restaurant.

Solution: A no frills loyalty program usable across all eight locations

Once agreeing to come on board and implementing FiveStar’s all-inclusive loyalty reward marketing program in January of 2012, Armadillo Willy’s was instantly able to address their goals one by one. The restaurant went with a no-frills points system, where customers earned one point for each $5 spent. 5 points would earn them a free snack or side dish, and 10 points earned a free burger or barbecue sandwich. People began using the Fivestars card from day one, and the fact that it tied directly into their POS system meant that customers could easily earn points at any one of the eight locations. The cards are tied to the customer’s email address as well, which offered insight into spending habits for all customers enrolled in the program. Fivestars also handled Armadillo Willy’s efforts on Facebook and Twitter to further engage their user base.

Results: 3,100 customer referrals from the Fivestars network and $875,000 loyalty tracked purchases

The results have shown that the Fivestars loyalty program has been a clear-cut success for Armadillo Willy’s. They have dramatically increased their customer database to exceed 13,000 members, including over 1,000 VIP members who are their most loyal fans and patrons. There have been a whopping 3,100 customer referrals through our program, and the customer spending data provided metrics for how the average customer spends, with over $875,000 in trackable purchases made through the loyalty card. They have also successfully been able to implement varied email marketing campaigns to different segments of their customers using the database tools we provide.

“The ease of signing up customers has been great,” said Chief Operating Officer Tim Ford. “We are now able to better connect with customers and get to know who they are and how often they come in. I love my customers and I love Fivestars!”


Jerry Whitehead
About the Author
Jerry Whitehead


  • What they did right here was offering a reward that is somewhat easy to achieve. It’s not going to take 10 visits to achieve a reward, if you are out with a group, you can probably earn a free burger or sandwich after just one visit! These are the types of programs that people like to see.

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