Draw Customers Back with Restaurant Gift Cards

People love to receive restaurant gift cards because most everyone loves to be treated to dinner. Gift cards make a great gift for young and old alike and can be given for any special occasion – such as birthdays, religious holidays, anniversaries, weddings, and so on – or just to say thank you.

It’s estimated that $100 billion is spent on gift cards each year. If you are not getting a slice of that pie at your restaurant or bar, it’s time to get cooking! Gift cards are one of the most successful promotional programs available, and your restaurant can easily start offering them through Lavu. The biggest players who use gift cards are retailers (from big-box stores to boutique owners) and chain restaurants (think Red Lobster and Applebee’s). But to their detriment, many smaller restaurants have yet to embrace gift cards.

Gift cards carry a wide array of benefits not only for customers but also for restaurants. Some of the main reasons why you must consider selling gift cards are the increased number of repeat customers, additional sales, and huge profits. To ensure profitable operation of your food business, you should consider using reusable gift cards.

Customers tend to abandon their cards when the balance goes below a certain amount of money. These abandoned dollars can result in thousands of dollars of profit per year, especially for large businesses

Gift cards are a proven way of bringing back familiar faces and acquiring new customers—up to 41% more. About 90% of gift cards are redeemed within the first 60 days of receiving one, so restaurants can expect to see a steady stream of customers. Once gift-card holders walk through your door, things start to get interesting.

Surveys indicate that spending behavior changes with a gift card. With a monetary “padding” in hand, customers are willing to order more expensive plates, and 25% are more likely to order something new—something they might never otherwise consider.

That is wildly helpful for any restaurant undergoing a menu revamp. Ditching menu items that regular customers are accustomed to can be tricky; you can lessen any negative backlash with gift card promotions. Doing so will embolden your diners to loosen up and try out your new options.

Spending patterns also shift in regards to total dollar amounts spent. The average gift-card holder spends up to 40% more than the amount on the gift card, boosting sales greatly. Not to mention, 71% of gift card recipients make return visits.

Shop For Gift Cards Now

Restaurant gift cards are the most popular to gift, so if you have yet to make gift cards a part of your sales program, there’s no better time than the present to start. With your restaurant POS system, gift card transactions take just minutes.

Most restaurants sell cards for the holidays, but why not sell them every day? If you think gift cards only sell during the holidays, you are missing a big opportunity every day! A card program builds your brand, increases revenue, reduces cash refunds, and welcomes new customers. Plastic gift cards are durable, reloadable, and advertise your restaurant.

71% of card customers spend 45% more than their card value. 10% to 15% of card users never redeem the full value of their card. Nearly 60% of consumers asked for cards during the 2012 holiday season, are you getting your share of sales?

You should be promoting gift cards year-round because your customers are giving them year-round!

Why do customers like gift cards? They’re a quick and easy solution for what to buy. Plus, the card value is up to the giver and is available almost everywhere. Also, they are quick and easy to sell, provide an interest-free loan to the restaurant, generate free advertising, create new customers, and are usually a very profitable sale at the time of redemption.

How to Market Your Gift Cards

Gift cards have been ranked as the no. 1 gift among shoppers since 2007, which makes them easy to market. It can be assumed that 93% of your diners have either purchased or received a gift card, leaving them fully aware of the benefits. So instead of focusing on how stellar your gift card program is, emphasize the fact that you have gift cards. Here are some ways of doing that:

  1. Treat dining gift cards as a menu item. Include a purchase at the bottom of the menu, right under the entrées, and include it on your separate dessert menu.
  2. Create specials exclusive to gift card holders, and add them to the menu. The additional incentive can be either cost-saving or related to exclusivity (such as a chance to dine at the chef’s table).
  3. Offer attractive packaging that will look good given as a birthday or anniversary gift, or that will look nice given in a greeting card.
  4. Create a short video that highlights specials and gift cards. It doesn’t need to be more than 30 seconds long. If it’s a hit, the video could go viral among your community.
  5. Give out free gift cards in small denominations of $5 or $10, to make them easy options for diners to give out as gift options for colleagues and friends. Odds are they’ll also mention your gift card program to someone else, further spreading awareness that your restaurant now offers gift cards.
  6. You could reward customer purchases with a bonus gift card when they purchase a preset dollar amount, what about staff contests? Sell $500 in gift cards in a two week period for a $20 bonus or sell $1,000 in gift cards in a two week period for a $50 bonus!

Have You Thought About A Loyalty Program?

Don’t forget about your existing marketing avenues! Update your restaurant’s website homepage with a banner featuring your new gift card program, and talk about it on social media. Once your gift card system is set up, you can expect to see an increase in foot traffic and sales in as little as two months.

Choosing a POS provider

The selection of a restaurant POS system is a critical decision that you will live with for many years, take your time, and take advantage of our free resources so you can make an informed decision. Our Restaurant POS 3-Step Purchase Guide for owners and managers is available for free, but if you need personal help along the way, we’re available on a one on one basis.

For more on restaurant marketing, check out our tips on promoting restaurant specials and spreading the word about your establishment.

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