Like the ingredients in its wraps, salads and bowls, the Protein Bar and Kitchen is staying fresh. It’s got a new mobile app, new theme colors, new payment options and even a new name — the “Kitchen” was added recently to emphasize the quality, healthy ingredients in every meal.
Kate Rettker, senior marketing manager and manager of the Protein Bar’s mobile order-ahead process, said the company has tweaked its app design to feature more distinct pops of color and better menu functionality, including adding photography. Navigation will be easier and more intuitive.
But the most important upgrade, according to Rettker, is that the new mobile app continues to put Protein Bar and Kitchen’s most loyal customers first.
Before, platinum loyalty customers could only earn loyalty points by paying with their mobile phone. Now they can earn points no matter how they pay, even if they opt to use a credit card or cash.
“That’s the biggest win for our guests,” said Rettker.
There’s more good news for customers using the loyalty program. Platinum members will also receive a free reusable tumbler that earns them $1 off a protein smoothie every time they bring it. Other guests can purchase the tumbler to enjoy the same benefits, but the company wanted to offer something different and special to its premium guests.
“Some of our guests eat here for two to three meals a day, every day,” said Rettker. “They rack up a lot of loyalty points. Platinum users are very, very ingrained in our culture, so we try very, very hard to take care of them by asking, ‘How do we treat them special?’ Because they are special to us.”
The new app is powered by LevelUp, a mobile payments platform created by Boston startup SCVNGR and the force behind PYMNTS’ mobile order-ahead tracker.
But the Protein Bar’s relationship with LevelUp goes back further than that. The healthy fast-casual restaurant launched a custom mobile payment and loyalty app with LevelUp in early 2014 to cater to its active, on-the-go customers. The app features mobile payments, nutrition information, rewards and in-app ordering — including the critical option to customize anything.
“We’re a dietary-sensitive brand,” said Rettker. “Everyone loves a substitution, me included — always add avocado! Our online ordering really makes that easy for the guest to make sure they’re getting exactly what they want.”
Customers can order through Protein Bar’s own app, through LevelUp itself or through a third party like GrubHub. Regardless, they’re likely to order more, or at least spend more on customization. Because the beauty of a kiosk or app is that, unlike human employees, it always upsells.
Once customers have placed an order, the app direct fires it into Protein Bar’s Toast point-of-sale system, reducing friction and complications in order processing and making this fast-casual destination even faster.
Fast, however, isn’t always a good thing. Protein Bar had to fight an uphill battle against people’s perception of fast food when the company first launched in 2009. Since then, what seemed a novel concept has become the norm.
Between that trend and Protein Bar’s steady messaging around fresh ingredients, selling customers on the product hasn’t been an issue. The company is also dedicated to live and digital interface with its customers, with a robust social media presence and a highly engaged following that exploded around spring 2016.
All told, though Protein Bar and Kitchen is still striving to be bigger and better, it seems the restaurant has already found the recipe for success; anything else is just avocado on the salad.