Why sell Dining Certificates instead of Gift cards?

Everyone knows that gift cards are the fast and easy way to sell your business to your guests. They fit in a wallet and they look like a credit card, which of course,  is really the whole idea. They are clean, neat and easily issued on your POS system. There was a time years ago, where gift card sales where a billion dollar industry particularly around the holidays. Businesses were hawking their cards and packaging them so that the last minute shopper was eager to use it instead of spending a great deal of time shopping for that “Perfect Gift”. With the use of gift cards, of course, the way they were issued and the restrictions changed. You can no longer put an expiration date on a gift card. They are good forever. There is no way to “market” the use of the card. It’s simply the same a s cash and can be used as such. Once the card is used, if the total is not completely consumed, then there is a balance on the card. This can be problematic when a guest remembers that they thought that there was more left on the card then in fact there is. The cards are often used on discounted services or on nights when the restaurant is running a special, making it even a little more painful. And occasionally, even though everything seems to have been done properly in loading the cash and issuing the gift card, there is a glitch and it isn’t discovered until it becomes time to redeem the card. As many of you know, there is nothing like trying to redeem a gift card when the POS system goes down on a busy night and technology has you at its mercy.

             For just that reason, we switched to dining certificates. They allow for you to market what you are doing, to add restrictions, to say thanks and highlight what you do, and as a means of tracking who bought them and how to follow up marketing to those groups. They can be full size sheets or a smaller version. Ours has our logo, Web address, phone number, hours of operation and restrictions. Because we often discount our dining certificates, it allows us to place restrictions on usage. A dining certificate can have an expiration date. It can say “Congratulations on your promotion!”. By personalizing them, they have a greater perceived value. As a promotion for our local schools, we offer to give them 100 copies of a $10.00 dining certificate for free.  Generally the PTA or  the Athletic Association. They can sell them for $10.00 each and keep the money. If the buyers bring them back, we get a chance to create a new customer by doing a great job at the restaurant. If they buy them and don’t use them, it’s cost us nothing. We also get to add a comment about how we are Happy to Support the local high school. Explain that they can only use up to two at a time and that they are not good with other discounts and offers, something that cannot be done with a gift card. We can ask to add the school logo, have the school motto, in short, make it a special item. When the certificate is presented at the end of the meal, the manger knows exactly where they got it, and has a chance to go over and thank the guest for supporting the local school and makes a connection that can result in a repeat customer. Sometimes we only get a handful back. But the Dining certificate makes for a better buy than a quarter page ad in the basketball program that nobody sees.

             We can provide dining certificates in a number of formats for you to get creative with. Target your market and then utilize the certificates to create new customers. Those customers will like the attention to detail, much more than those little plastic gift cards.

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