Buying gifts for birthdays, holidays and other special occasions is more stressful for some people than the actual holiday itself. Trying to guess what the person wants… will they hate it… will they return it… so much guesswork that is has become very commonplace to purchase a gift card instead of an a actual gift. Many retail stores, and almost all chains, offer them now. And why not? It doesn’t really matter what you buy…they just want you to come in and shop. This is why a gift card is perfect:
- They get you in the door to purchase the gift card.
- You may buy other things while you are there to purchase your gift card.
- You will turn around and give your gift card to the recipient giving them another customer.
- The recipient will come in and use their card and either spends more than the card value…or they may even spend less.
No matter how you look at it, the store has made money…and potentially even more depending on the customer’s behavior in the store. This should be the easiest way to gain more business. Sooooo….where do restaurants fit in?
Restaurants really have a special advantage. Everyone eats and most really enjoy it. If you have great food and service, people want to share that experience. And lucky for restaurants, people eat out a lot and not just on special occasions or holidays; however, according to the National Restaurant Association 6 in 10 Americans want a restaurant gift card as a holiday gift. So what better way to increase business than encouraging your patrons to buy gift cards from their favorite restaurant. And it is easy to do. Many establishments offer incentives either by purchasing so much in cards to get a free card for themselves. Some restaurants even offer free appetizers, drinks and dessert as well. For some customers who planned on purchasing a gift card anyway, this incentive sweetens the deal.
If cost is a concern, as it always should be, start small and see what happens. Many point of sale (POS) systems already have the ability to load cards by barcode or magnetic stripe and many business owners aren’t even aware of the feature. Contact your provider…it may be as simple as turning it on, or just some additional training. Purchasing the actual plastic gift cards is actually pretty easy too. Many POS providers will tell you that you can only purchase from them, which is not the case. A good plastic card provider can take a sample card and tell you what magnetic strip or barcode to order with your cards, and can guide you through every step of the process. You can even have the company design your card, or if you are lucky, they offer gift card online design capabilities where you can do it on your own. The process need not be stressful, but actually exciting; especially when you see your tables full and more profits coming through the door!