Leaders in Customer Loyalty, Powered by Loyalty360

Fueling a Rewarding Experience: A Q&A with Parkland on Building a Customer Loyalty Program and Delivering Early Rewards

September 19, 2023 Loyalty360
Leaders in Customer Loyalty, Powered by Loyalty360
Fueling a Rewarding Experience: A Q&A with Parkland on Building a Customer Loyalty Program and Delivering Early Rewards
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Established in the 1970s in rural Alberta, Canada, Parkland has become a leading convenience and fuel marketer across the country. Expansion throughout Canada and into the United States and the Caribbean has been driven mostly through acquisitions and strategic partnerships. Parkland is preparing to launch its loyalty program in Puerto Rico.

With over 1 million customers served every day across 4,000+ retail locations operating under the field brands of Chevron, Pioneer, Fas Gas Plus, RaceTrac, Superpumper, Ultramar, On the Run, and Esso, as well as under Sol Petroleum internationally, the brand’s rural beginnings in Alberta have led to global success. Parkland is now in 25 countries.

Acquisitions in Canada, such as major frozen food retailer M&M Food Market, have allowed Parkland to bring even more choices to members of its Journie™ Rewards program while moving fuel customers from the frontcourt to the backcourt. At the pump, strategic partnerships offer even more benefits for members. Customers with a CIBC bank credit card, when linked to a Journie Rewards account, receive an automatic three-cent-per-liter discount on every fill-up at any of Parkland’s field brands.

Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Michael McDowell, Vice President of Loyalty Programs and Partnerships at Parkland, about the different experiences of approaching loyalty from an agency perspective versus the brand side, satisfying loyalty program members through early benefits, and opportunities for Parkland and its loyalty program.

Mark Johnson:

Good afternoon and good morning. It's Mark Johnson from Loyalty 360. Hope everyone's happy, safe and well. Wanted to welcome you back to another edition of our Leaders in Customer Loyalty series. In this series we have the privilege of speaking with leading brands about what they are seeing and hearing on the front lines of customer channel and brand loyalty. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Mike McDowell, the vice president of loyalty programs and partnerships at Parkland. How are you today, mike?

Michael McDowell:

Great. How are you Mark?

Mark Johnson:

I'm doing well, thank you. First off, we'd like to start these on a more personal level. I'd like to get to know the person that we're speaking with, a little bit about their background, their interests. So we'd love to know a little bit more about you, maybe your work, history, and then also what you do at Parkland.

Michael McDowell:

For sure. So at Parkland I lead our loyalty programs internationally, so Global Center of Excellence on Loyalty. We're fairly new to loyalty, so Canada is our more established and mature market, so we've been in market about three years with the program. But then there's emerging markets across the 25 countries that Parkland operates in, and so we've got programs through the Caribbean, launching a program in Puerto Rico, and that is part of my responsibility at Parkland and I have a team that is responsible for managing those programs as well as driving performance, design and innovation against those programs. I'm also responsible for partnerships, and so at Parkland we've purposely kept partnerships very close to loyalty. Anything we do from a partnership perspective, the most important audience that we want to be able to leverage and bring value to is our customers and our loyalty membership, and so partnerships is also under my purview.

Mark Johnson:

you have 14 kids. Do you like to jump out of helicopters?

Michael McDowell:

two kids. I always wanted to jump out of planes. I feel like I'm too old to do that now, but my biggest passion outside of work is coaching sports. So I've coached my youngest son, my 12 year old, for the past six years in competitive hockey and my oldest son, who's 16. I've coached him probably up until this year 10 years in soccer. Okay good, and I just love it. I love it. I get to apply a lot of it professionally, because learning how to be a leader of young children when they have you're not paying their paycheck and so they don't have to listen to you, and the challenges that come with that, it's got a lot of applicability to being a leader in an organization and so and I just love it it feeds my sports passion as well as my coaching.

Mark Johnson:

If you were drafting at the end of the first round, like the Colorado Avalanche Rhood? Do you have a kind of a kind of a sleeper pick in the draft?

Michael McDowell:

Sleeper pick in the draft? I don't, because I've been so swayed by the media and all the focus on Badaard. Yeah, okay, good, all the videos of him at the combine and how big he looks. How can you look at anybody else right now? So it's all about Chicago and the luck they have getting him.

Mark Johnson:

Okay yeah, absolutely so. When you look at yourself, you made a transition here recently. You moved over to Parkland to run the customer loyalty program, but you were in the agency world before that for a number of years. What's the biggest difference between working at an agency for a brand or working directly with the brand itself? What's the difference?

Michael McDowell:

Yeah, and I started my career actually in IT and then I was on the brand side for most of my career so I built up my sales and marketing experience. 12 years I spent at Blackberry. So I'm sure, depending on the age demographic of the listeners or viewers, they probably carried a Blackberry. Once you get to some of the younger generations, they have no idea what that is until the movie came out, and so I went from Blackberry. I was in New York my last two years of Blackberry in New York and Bond was my agency and so back then there were Merritt's Canada and I had contemplated doing that change and trying.

Michael McDowell:

The agency side is something different and, as someone that's really passionate about sales and business development and helping others achieve it, was a great fit for me. But it was a huge difference and so going. I spent seven and a half years at Bond and the biggest experienced driver or incredible things that I was able to do on that side is the amount of clients I got to work with and so being the one that gets to come in and bring expertise forward to help a brand or an organization kind of get past the hump or get things that are at top of their list and priorities, of what they're trying to bring to market, and being able to do that and support them where they haven't been able to do it on their own was just very fulfilling for me. And on the agency side, it's a lot of teamwork. So everything you do not very individualistic, you do it with people. You succeed as a team, and so that was a great element of, too. There was a lot of camaraderie and shared success and shared recognition, but quite a lot it's a grind. It's a grind on that side, and so I think I got to a point where I gained so much experience, specifically in retail and with the clients that I was working on, that going back to the brand side just felt like the right timing.

Michael McDowell:

And once I got back to the brand side after seven and a half years, I realized, wow, it was different, and I almost reprogrammed myself on the agency and consultancy side that I had to almost get back into the brand brain and be like, oh okay, this is how me to work in a larger organization that has, you know, structure and and budget processes to be able to do these things. And so the number, the biggest thing that I would say is what, on the agency side, we felt was no brainers. We'd look at something our client was contemplating doing and we'd be like, why aren't you doing this Right? So we have such an impact? We've proven the ROI. What are you going to do?

Michael McDowell:

Like let's go under estimates the level of complexity and work that goes into a brand's ability to budget plan, prioritize, organize within other priorities within the business, make sure that you can resource properly, like it's it's. It's easy to forget what it takes for organizations to be able to do, you know, do some of these larger initiatives, especially if it's like a martech project or something where you're really impacting a customer experience and taking something to market. It's a big endeavor and so that's taken some getting getting used to as to how these things work and how much, how much effort goes into that. It was really easy to forget that on the agency side.

Mark Johnson:

Excellent. I'd love to have a beer with you and talk about the Blackberry story, because I read a lot of books on behavioral science and just some of the one book, think Again, adam Grant just about how some of the challenges they had there and where they were and they were owning everything for obviously the back end is very secure. But love to have a discussion with you just about it's referenced several times some of the mistakes with opportunities that were kind of passed on and just how they looked at things.

Michael McDowell:

So still one of my favorite things to talk about. It's such a fascinating story. Lucky to have lived it, that's awesome. Yeah, but it's pretty cool All right Parkland.

Mark Johnson:

For those who may not be familiar with Parkland, can you give us a brief overview of what you guys do, how you do it, where you located, because I know it's a pretty unique company?

Michael McDowell:

Yeah, it's funny when people ask me, especially in my personal life, I would always say it's probably the brand that you've engaged with but aren't aware of. So Parkland we have over 4,000 locations across 25 countries, and so, although people might not be familiar with the Parkland brand, that has been around for over half a century, they're more familiar with our consumer brands, and so M&M, Food Market On the Run, convenience, ultramar, pioneer, chevron is a fuel brand banner we run in Canada, and then we have brands in the US and then in total 25 countries, and so, through the acquisition of Sol back several years ago, that was our entry into the Caribbean market. So we have both front court and back court locations in the Caribbean as well, and so we are an international distributor of fuel marketer, convenience retailer, and so vertically integrated within the energy space.

Mark Johnson:

Okay, your loyalty program very successful. It's been around for three years. I know you helped spin it up. You can tell us a little about the program, how it works, how members can engage with it. What are the benefits of the program?

Michael McDowell:

Yeah. So when we first and this is where I've got a pretty unique opportunity, because I was involved with the Parkland, the design of the program and the implementation of the program on the bond side and when we first set out to do this, it was we got a bunch of you know, at Parkland we have a bunch of consumer brands, disparate brands right, that don't really have a single connection or brand face to our customers. And so loyalty was going to play two roles one, the obvious one, which is to drive, drive increased margin revenue for the business, as well as being that front facing brand, that consumer facing brand that is that connective tissue with our customers. And so when we went into designing the program, we didn't want to be a me too. So we kind of we had a choice to make was either build a program that we know people will recognize, we know people will be used to engaging in, and then we just, you know, fight it out with the other programs and market. And we made the cost decision, say let's do something a bit different, let's do something we think still delivers the value of what people are looking for, which is they want value returned in their fuel purchases and convenience store purchases. But we want to do a bit differently. We wanted to do something that created more engagement in the program versus blind earn, save, burn.

Michael McDowell:

And so the construct of the program is we actually don't have an earnable currency, it's a point cycle. And so we run off a 300 point cycle and at the 75, and you accumulate points one point per two points per dollar spent in the convenience store and one point per liter in the front court and you accumulate points and when you reach 300, you will unlock a seven cent cost per liter discount for the US audience leaders versus gallons. And you unlock that kind of ultimate discount and a seven cent discount is pretty significant on a fill out. And so that was. And then the cycle restarts and anything you went over 300, you still continue those points, but the cycle starts again.

Michael McDowell:

The other thing we added was we introduced when we launched the program was a unlock at 75 points and 150 points. If you fill up. For you know, if you've got a big truck and you fill up for 60, 65, 70 liters and you go in and get a coffee and a chocolate bar, you're already at your first unlock. So in one visit you can get the first unlock, and what the unlocks are is things like a free food item, free coffee, bonus points, things like that, and then the same thing at 150. So it achieves that quick recognition, that immediate gratification of earning something and having something to redeem, but also builds people up towards that big unlock, which is that 7-cent CPL and the cycle starting again. And so we liked it from a help drive frequency and it also helped drive basket because of the opportunity to earn through convenience purchases. Okay.

Mark Johnson:

And when you look at the typical customer parkland do you have a typical customer? Because, as you mentioned, you refine fuel. You had different brands that are out there. You also have front court and back court. Does a parkland customer have discerning traits?

Michael McDowell:

It's not really. It's such a big program, it's such a big audience that anyone that's purchasing fuel is a parkland customer. Now, I would say, because of the dividend that we have as part of the program, it does tend to be those which doesn't necessarily mean it's a certain socioeconomic class. Like those of us that have worked in loyalty, like yourself, we know that people are motivated by discounts. No matter what you earn, no matter what your household income is, you are motivated by discounts and so, but it does tend to be people that do value on something that can be you know I hate using the word dread purchase, but fuel can sometimes be a bread purchase.

Michael McDowell:

To be able to know that you can count on getting value back or discounting off the fuel is the type of person that we tend to attract, and it's those that are looking for it and it's not those that are saving. You know they're looking for a program that they can save up to buy the big thing in six months. It's people that want that everyday savings right. They want it to see it more frequently and it helps them feel like they're offsetting the fluctuations in fuel prices. It helps them in the fluctuations in the economy. It gives them something to count on, and so it's a big audience when I say it's everyone that fills up their car, but more specifically, it is tends to be those that value that immediate return and immediate savings. Okay.

Mark Johnson:

Front court, back court. It's an interesting discussion. For those who may not be familiar with the fuel industry, can you talk a little bit about that Kind of what they mean and how the opportunities or challenges that may exist with having a front court and back court and as a program integrated into both? It's a very interesting discussion and not everyone may be familiar.

Michael McDowell:

Yeah. So front court is the fuel, where the pumps are, and then back court is what we call the convenience store, and typically you have a POS both at the pump for those that pay a pump, and then you have a POS in store that also controls the pumps. That's where they can turn them on and you can pay for them, and then you have your convenience store POS and so it's a lot easier to do the front court portion of it, the fuel portion. Especially when the propensity to pay it pump now is so high especially after COVID, people got used to not going into the vestibule to pay and those that even were going in to pay with a credit card could have done it at pump chose not to. Now we see a lot of people that are now choosing to do it at pump, a lot more in the last couple of years.

Michael McDowell:

So the front court is a lot easier. It's the convenience store. That is the less specific destination than the front court. People make that left turn or that right turn to go get fuel because their car is telling them it's time to get fuel. So it's easier because you have that prompt. You have that purchase prompt, whereas with the convenience store unless you're looking for a convenience item specifically.

Michael McDowell:

Okay, I'm on a milk or I'm on a bread and I'm picking up on the way home. It's often a bit of an impulse purchase. It's like, do I really go in and get that chocolate bar or do I go with it and just fill up my car and get back on the road? And so that's the biggest difference between the front court and back court is the back court feels a lot more like some of the other traditional retail industry where you're trying to alter behavior, to say the difference between making a purchase and not making a purchase at all, versus choose us over the competitor. Fuel is all choose us over the competitor, obviously, whereas convenience store we've got to do a little bit more work to say, hey, why not come in for a beverage and a snack, and journey's got your back, we're going to give you some value against that, and so I'd say that's the biggest difference.

Mark Johnson:

Okay, when you look at convenience customer loyalty programs, how are they different than other programs you may have worked with in your agency world?

Michael McDowell:

I mean convenience is the difference between these is all very specific about the item, and so, you know, on the agency side, we worked with a lot of retailers on how to create more kind of emotional connections, emotional awards, emotional benefits, like things that were more experiential. You know, with a, with a clothing retailer, you can do things with. You know, vip fitting rooms or a different line that you can check out in, and there's, there's just a lot of more things. A lot more things you can do is benefits, added benefits very limited in a C store setting small footprint uh, traffic's in and out.

Michael McDowell:

The CSRs are only engaging with customers for a very short period of time because most people are looking to get in and out of there, and so the program ends up really being focused on the actual products and SKUs within the store. And how do you get people to cross um, you know, do cross promotions and get people to move from? If I came in for a drink, how do I get them over to the snack section as well? How do I get them pick up something at checkout? How do I put signage and things that kind of remind or prompt them, uh, to take action as it relates to the program, and so I think that's the biggest difference is you're limited almost on on the things you can do. Um, because those shoppers are are in and out. They're not thinking about you for too long before they visit and they're not thinking about you too long after.

Mark Johnson:

Okay, Now what's the biggest opportunity you see for Parkland and their customer loyalty program?

Michael McDowell:

Um. So we're we've been pretty aggressive on introducing new services, some through acquisition and partnership and some through just expansion of our services, and two specifically would be um, m&m food market is, uh is an acquisition we made just over a year ago and the kind of first stage of that is bringing the. So M&M is a frozen food uh provider, um, higher quality uh, very, very good, like vegan and um, silly act product. It's very focused on quality, um, and clean and non-stair and that kind of stuff, and so we're bringing that higher quality food product into a convenience store and it's give us an opportunity to a reach a different customer. But it also expands our, our opportunity of what we can drive from a higher basket perspective and what things we can actually message people. So messaging over and over again on an app through app notification or email that says, hey, come in and get a salty snack beverage, chocolate bar, whatever it's easy to ignore, and so having new services to be able to talk about for people that are coming into our locations is important. So M&M does that for us and we're going to continue to expand those food offerings, leveraging that M&M relationship, uh, to provide more food offerings um, through our convenience locations, and the other one is EV, and so we've started building out, uh, an EV charging network, uh, starting out West, uh, so Western Canada, sorry, uh, western Canada and so we are in DC and Alberta, um, and so those are located, um, on the footprint of our, whether we have a front court and backward Um, and so this is giving us another opportunity to extend to a different type of customer either.

Michael McDowell:

Draw them in. So now we're a destination for charging, and the other opportunity gives us is charging has got a much longer dwell time, so to fill your, your um combustible engine vehicle, it's, you're in and out in two minutes. Uh, with an EV charge it can be 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, and so that gives us a lot more time to put something, uh, an offer or a prompt in front of a consumer that says, hey, why not come in, why not check out what we have here? Um, and so that's a huge opportunity for us in the program.

Mark Johnson:

Excellent. Yeah, that's a whole nother discussion I'd love to have with you. Uh, I know there's just been some lawsuits and litigation and and and and with regard to the Amazon standard or the European standard here in the U S and uh, but that's a whole different discussion. I'm fascinated by that as well, but, uh, we'll have to save that for another day too. No problem, let's do it. Uh, so when you look at your customers, how did they change or how are they changing? A lot of discussion around changing, going into COVID, coming out of COVID. You know, overall, how have your customers changed and how are you adapting to that change?

Michael McDowell:

I think, other than the obvious, which was, um, you know, people weren't on the road, and so, you know, our program is primarily a fuel driven program, and that's what people want. Um, that's what the customers are looking for is a fuel program that can give them savings, and so, um, that was the obvious one, and it had taken some time for people to get back on the road, and, and I volume still aren't at the same level. As far as cars on the road, uh, people are being kind of more picky about, you know, though they might take transit a little bit more. There might be some other things, behaviors that have changed a little bit. Uh, that's the obvious one. I think the less obvious one is, um, people are consumer spending, and you know, any economist I'll tell you right now, it just keeps going up, and I know my, no matter what uh we do to the interest rates, um, people are spending their money, and I think they're the.

Michael McDowell:

Basically, you know, this is not my only my, uh, my hypothesis or opinion, but I think people are tending to say I'm going to go out and get. If I feel like going and getting a thing of ice cream, or I feel about going, splurging on something, I'm going to go get it. And so I think we're seeing consumers who are more open to hey, I got something great for you, I got a great experience and something you're looking for, and I think they're more willing to come and do that. Uh, less thinking about I've got to save, I got to stand my budget, like. I think I got people to open up a little bit and say, you know, I might get locked down again and lose a couple of years of my life or you know, so to speak, but I don't want to, I don't want to miss anything right now, and so I think that's that's changed our consumers, where they're willing to come in and try new things.

Mark Johnson:

Okay, you talked about earlier that partnerships are under your purview at Parkland. That's a growing area of interest for our community. We have a working group that talks about it every two months, but making sure the partnership works for both brands is a challenge, right? So it's not just a one-way hash for the brand. How do you at Parkland typically approach partnerships and what are maybe some key partnerships you have in place?

Michael McDowell:

Yeah, I think we're fortunate enough as a fuel provider that we're a pretty desirable partner for other brands. And so CIBC, one of the major banks in Canada, was our first partner, our launch partner, and so that's where they offer anyone with the CIBC credit card. If you link it to your journey rewards account, you get an automatic 3 cent per liter discount on every fill. And then we do all kinds of promotions with them as well, and they've been a very, very great partner excellent acquisition and continues to be great acquisition of linked customers, and they're very high value. They're willing to give us their wallet share based on that linkage with their credit card, and so that one was based on.

Michael McDowell:

We wanted to launch, we wanted to put an offer in market, but then our strategy shifted to how do we help bolster our acquisition, how do we grow this program through other means, other than our own channels? And so that's where our strategy sits right now, because we're still a pretty quick growing program. And that's where the Aeroplan partnership came about. And so Aeroplan is Air Canada's loyalty program. It's been around for a long, long time. We won't go into the history of the kind of evolution and changes of ownership of that program, but most Canadian consumers and a lot of consumers outside of Canada are very familiar with the program. It's one of the kind of original programs in Canada and so Aeroplan's members, we're telling them we would love to be able to earn Aeroplan on fuel and it gives them a high frequency opportunity for Aeroplan to be able to provide value back to their members and it was a perfect opportunity for us because it's really helping drive, it will help drive acquisition for us and so we're launching that later this fall and that really fits into our strategy right now.

Michael McDowell:

What partners can help amplify and really grow our base and get us to reach to other consumers in the Canadian market. Eventually we will shift that strategy to what are the partnerships that are really focused on enhancing the experience of our existing members, and so it'll be a big shift and Aeroplan's at that point right. They've got a great, great basic customers in the looking for. They made a partnership with Starbucks, they did a partnership with Uber and now a partnership with us LCBO, which is the liquor distribution in Ontario and Canada that is based on them bringing more value to their members, and we will eventually get to that point as well and start looking for partners that enhance the value proposition of why our customers are coming to journey, especially when you have a teenage choice. It's got to be partners that fit that our members want. It can't be, for you know, we're not building a coalition or the old kind of version of a coalition. This has to be, you know, joint partnerships where we got an equal exchange of value and a desire to deliver better experiences for customers.

Mark Johnson:

Absolutely. When you look at your role pretty expansive role, a growing team under you focused on kind of a very important topic you know what's the biggest challenge you face in your role and how do you see that going forward.

Michael McDowell:

I mean I was lucky when I came in because Parkland was pretty all in on loyalty and so my predecessors did an excellent job and our president of the Canadian market it just did an excellent job of paving the way and educating right from our shareholders to the board, to our employees, to our customers, really doing a good job at paving the path for loyalty and why it's important, why it's part of Parkland's plan going forward and why it's something that is really important to our customer experience. And so that part I was. Fortunate I don't have to convince anyone of the importance of loyalty. I think the toughest part of my job now is how because loyalty has become such a primary channel for us, for Parkland to leverage to reach customers is how to maintain this desired customer experience that we know if you communicate too much you can lose them. If you give them the wrong offer, you can lose them If you like.

Michael McDowell:

There's just there's certain missteps you can make with a program, and so I think the toughest thing for me is I want to do everything for the business right. I want my counterparts in vendor management and merchandising to be able to leverage the program and my counterparts that are launching new products and services to be able to leverage the program. But that's a tough balance between how do we maintain a great experience for members while still delivering this incremental opportunity to the business? And that's I don't, that's, I'm not alone in that. I think anyone leading a loyalty program it faces the exact same thing. But it's become clear pretty quick to me that there's lots for us to do and lots of desire to do it through the loyalty program, through journey rewards, and that's and that's a tough balance to maintain.

Mark Johnson:

Yeah, it's a big topic of conversation with our communities. Looking at incrementality, making sure you have the right levels, that the right rewards and incentives are there, but you know the ROI, the incrementality of partnerships that are strategic. Many brands are curtailing the number of partnerships they have. They're not using aggregators anymore, so I think it's very interesting to hear your perspective for sure.

Michael McDowell:

Yeah, and the more measure like, the more metrics and measures and how we're tracking against KPIs that we surface, the more you have people looking at it and going well, why don't we just do more of that? And we'll do that Like, if you created this correlation of how we move the needle in certain ways through the program, why don't we do more of it? Right and so and that's that's. That's tough because at the same time, I've got to be that voice of the customer that says wait, we have to like, and everyone will say it like.

Michael McDowell:

Parkland is a really great example of an organization that says customers in the center, and they don't just say it, they mean it, and so nobody wants to disrupt that. But it's easy to forget sometimes Because you're like let's just go, let's just, let's just get more out there, like we're going to launch your own plan, let's get the next partner after that and let's put, let's put payments and an e-com engine into the app, and so there's so much that you could do that with no return and it's it's definitely a balance.

Mark Johnson:

Excellent. Now, when you look at other programs from a customer loyalty perspective, are there brands that you are loyal to? If so, what do you like about the brand? What do you like about the program? Well, what drives your loyalty to that brand?

Michael McDowell:

Yeah, I got. I've a boring, boring and typical answer, but hopefully my my explanation will be a little more interesting. So Starbucks, like so many people, I'm like super loyal to the brand and super loyal to the, to the program and to a point where, especially as a loyalty marker, who knows like I can do the math and the dividends and I know the behavioral tactics and I know what's happening. As I go through the app and I go into one of the food on the menu sprints kind of the gamification of it and I fall for it and I can see myself doing it. I'm like, but no, I really want to. I'm going to get that breakfast sandwich because I want to unlock those 50 bonus points, even if I know that I'm paying more for the sandwich than what those 50 points are worth. There's something about the way they do it that just makes me think. No, I want to keep earning and I want to keep achieving. I want to keep engaging with the program. Starbucks does such a good job of maintaining that consistent experience. I know what I'm going to get and then I think the biggest thing for them is they match it with the experience on the other side of the counter. They've always been so great at a very consistent level of experience that you get from the staff the way they look you in the eye, the way they greet you, the way they give you your name, even if they spell it wrong on the cup most people appreciate the fact that they tried and that they tried to personalize it for you. That combination of a program that seems to always give me what I need and have the right offers for me to choose from, coupled with that experience that I've just come to expect and will easily be let down if I go get a coffee somewhere else and the experience isn't the same, is just the perfect combination, in my opinion. I literally have a coffee shop right across the street. For me that their coffee is not as good as Starbucks, it's okay and I'll walk past it to do a 10-minute walk to Starbucks, and I feel bad because it's a single individual business owner, part of the community and I walk past them. I have to hide my Starbucks coffee because I know he's thinking why the hell didn't you just walk across the street? But anyway, and then the other example I'd give is McDonald's.

Michael McDowell:

I admire what they've done with the program in so many levels the complexity of being able to handle drive-through delivery, like especially the response to COVID, delivery to a parking spot, the ability to pre-order the digital displays in store. They threw a lot in at once and I think they've done an excellent job in my experience in getting it right and making it easier for them. They had blips right. Everyone had blips. There was times where I ordered something, I'm sitting in the spot and 10 minutes later no one's come out yet and I end up going in, and so there were some wrinkles they had to figure out. But they took a leap too by taking away again I don't know if this is anywhere else but Canada, but they took out the mailed flyers and so a lot of people were getting those offers and that's the only way you could get like a $2 discount off. A combo was you got it in the mail. They got rid of those completely and put it into the app and forced people you want to save with McDonald's download the app, and they've continued those savings, and so I just think they've done a really good job and got it right.

Michael McDowell:

And the other thing it introduced for them was a little bit of Starbucks experience, where, when I go through the drive-thru. If I give them my code, my loyalty code, they'll say, oh, is this Mike? And I go. Yeah, and that's not something you expect from McDonald's, right? Mcdonald's is about how fast we know the KPIs McDonald's. How fast can we get people through that drive-thru? Absolutely yeah. And if they can take the time to say, oh, this is Mike, just drive on through, don't worry, and skip the first window. You don't have to pay, right, because my payment's on file. It's a pretty good experience for them. That, I think's elevated them out of a level with some of their typical competitors.

Mark Johnson:

That's awesome. Both great programs and your perspective on both is unique, especially from the McDonald's perspective, because throughput and as more and more people use the drive-thru and kind of change that behavior, it's very important to make sure you're getting through in a timely manner and they do a great job of that. Yeah, and the last question I have, somewhat self-serving what can Loyalty360 do to help you and your team with your customer loyalty journey?

Michael McDowell:

I think. So, having come down to Loyalty360, the conference in Orlando this year, I think one of the things that I appreciate is that connection with other marketers, and it's not just you know, there's a lot of organizations that can give you a, you know, a roll-ex of contacts and just put it on me to go and reach out to people. But I think the opportunity for LoLiPy360 to connect this together and give us a forum to connect facilitated sessions, themes that you cover, like I think that's going to be really helpful for us to be able to get some support from LoLiPy360. And then the other one is content, a lot of the content you have.

Michael McDowell:

We're still a fairly junior or immature organization when it comes to loyalty at Parkland, and so there's a lot of people that I will continue to educate, my team will continue to educate, they will continue their education, like me and my team, and I think a lot of the content that you provide can help us continue that and really accelerate that.

Michael McDowell:

And so, and I think you have a good eye on how to put the content in a way that it's relevant, the most relevant to the audience, not overly scientific but not overly preachy and marketing, and so I think that's probably a big place. That Loyalty360 can help as well is just continue to provide that content and help. You know I love the email I get that says you know, here's some of the top headlines and the things that you might be interested in. That curation of it is helpful as well, and so any continued curation of here's a few things I think that are really relevant to Parkland. There's some other stuff over here that you can go look at on your own time, but here's some stuff I want to surface. For you Mike would be really helpful.

Mark Johnson:

Yeah, we're working on, hopefully, a new website coming out soon, working with the new ABC, to be able to do more of that curation look at your interests. So hopefully we'll have that early in 24, I guess. But that's a whole new website. We'll just have all that so well. Thank you very much, mike, for taking the time to talk to us today. It was great reconnecting with you, especially now that you're Parkland. We appreciate everything that you do for the industry. It was really interesting to hear you know perspectives from the agency world and how you're doing things at Parkland. So again, it was great connecting.

Michael McDowell:

My pleasure let's talk again soon.

Mark Johnson:

Absolutely. Thank you, Everyone, for taking the time to join us today. Make sure you join us back again for another edition of our Leaders in custom loyalty series. Have a wonderful day.

Intro
Tell us about you
Difference working for an agency to a brand
Overview of Parkland
Benefits of your loyalty program
Traits of a typical Parkland customer
Differences between Front Court and Back Court
How convenience customer loyalty programs differ than other programs
Biggest opportunity you see for Parkland and your customer loyalty
How customers have changed since Covid
How does Parkland approach partnerships
Biggest challenge you face in your role
What brands are you loyal to
What can Loyalty360 do for you
Outro