RECIPE: Gift Card Sales

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By Linda Duke

GIFT CARDS ARE ONE OF THE BEST WAYS RESTAURATEURS CAN INCREASE SALES and
get new people to try their restaurant and they are especially important during the holiday
season. People love a convenient way to buy gifts for their friends and family. Last year, consumers spent $23.6 billion on gift cards during the holiday season, with an average of $40 spent per card, according to data from the National Retail Federation.

INGREDIENTS
• Gift cards with different or adjustable price increments to sell.
• A goal for how many gift cards you want to sell.
• Phone numbers of various businesses that have purchased gift cards in the past and
potential businesses to trade cards with for crew incentives.
• Gift Card flyer and display.

DIRECTIONS
1. Sell the benefits of a gift card to your customers. Make sure to let them know that they
can pick an amount that is suitable for their budget and that their friends and family will love getting free food that they can choose.
2. Remind customers about your holiday gift cards beginning in early November. Make phone calls to the people and businesses that bought them last year to remind them about their holiday shopping.
3. Large area businesses are great to target with Gift Cards. Large employers in your restaurant’s 1-3 mile radius should be offered a special promotion like 10 percent off for buying gift cards for their entire staff. Selling 50, 100 or 200 gift cards to a large area business with your company logo on it, at one time, is 100% profit! When those gift cards are given out at the holiday, at large portion of those who receive them will visit your restaurant in the future and drive traffic.
4. Encourage your employees to remind guests about the gift cards when they are ordering or paying. Have an incentive program that offers the employee a prize or cash for selling the most gift cards.
5. Create a Sign. One of the easiest ways to let customers know that you offer gift cards is by using signage. The sign could say something as simple as “Buy a gift card today.” Making use of things like easels and sandwich boards on the weekend to encourage impulse gift card buying. Tie balloons to the easel to attract attention.
6. Display and Flyer for Gift Cards. Have a gift card display near the entrance and at the
registers. Create a flyer and put in all take-out orders and use on table tents and check
presenters. Also, make sure that anyone who is working the cash register reminds customers on their way out about your gift cards.
7. Trade gift cards with other nearby businesses such as a local car wash and give a free car wash to your employees and as a “Thank You” for your best customers.
8. Sell gift cards on your website. One third of all gift card purchases originate from outside the state of where the business is located. Your business will be more likely to get the sale from someone who is interested in finding a local restaurant for their friend or family member if you have online listings. Make sure that your business is filed under the right neighborhood and there is the correct address information on sites like Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Yelp. You can sell your cards on Amazon too.
9. Investigate opportunities to sell your restaurant gift cards at your local CostCo store.
The big box retailer is known for incorporating local businesses as their partners and offer gift cards alongside notable national brands.

TIPS
• Gift cards should be reusable with your brand logo on the front. Use magnetic gift cards, not paper, to track and report sales.
• Make agreements with non-competitive locations to sell your gift cards.
• Offer an incentive to the purchaser of the gift card to earn their own additional gift. Purchase $100 worth of gift cards and earn a $20 bonus card.

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