The Menu – the latest insights on restaurant technology trends, customer successes, and best practices.

Gift Certificates or Gift Cards?

Guest Author

By: Henry Pertman, Mid-Atlantic Sr. Sales Manager

Welcome to the only place where common sense meets technology in the world we call hospitality. Now that was a blatant display of ego, eh? Another example of a blatant display of ego is made every time one of my customers, friends or prospects in the business claims that he is happy using the good, old fashioned, hand written or computer generated gift certificate. “I just love the way it looks and my customers prefer it to gift cards!” REALLY? I guess that is why all those silly/incredibly successful chains use gift cards and sell MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of dollars worth all year long! Right? Wrong.

Advantages of the gift certificate (and the phone with a cord, which you also still use, right?):

  1. Only a manager can sell them or sign them or else we lose security.
  2. It takes a good long time to retrieve them on a nice busy night when someone actually wants one. Worst yet, Saturday night, you are on a wait, and your longtime customer decides that now is a good time to buy 5-$50 gift certificates for graduation presents.
  3. You have to log the certificate. You have to log the amount used the night it is redeemed. You have to change the amount to the new amount. You have to log the new amount.
  4. There is $9.66 left on the certificate, and the customer says, “Just give that to the waitress for the tip!” GREAT!
  5. These gift certificates make good fire starters for your fireplace in the wintertime. Did you know that?
Let’s compare these wonderful benefits, one for one, to the gift card which could/should replace that beautiful piece of paper:
  1. If using a POS, the cards are totally secure, every waitress can sell them, and you can even have contests for whoever sells the most cards that night, that week, or that season.
  2. Servers or hostesses can sell as many as they can and in a matter of seconds. They can be conveniently stored in reach of your staff, and you should probably just plain advertise them on table tents, on your website and on your door signs. And sell the heck out of them.
  3. No logging necessary. The system will keep them safe, secure and readily accessible! When your customer only spends $41.34 of their $50 card, the system shows a balance of $9.66 and you hand the card back. And now, they can return for another visit to your place. Hmmm, if they don’t come back, I get to keep …
  4. I think I combined #2 & #4 from the certificate numbers into #3 of the card numbers. I am talented like that.
  5. Gift cards smell funny and don’t burn well. They do have a breakage (unredeemed) rate of upwards of 30 percent, though, so you can afford to buy real fire starters. Heck, you can probably afford to buy a fireplace!
OK, I hear you crying, “UNCLE!” But, I also hear you begging for more revenue enhancements using the newly found source of revenue. I will bring it on, and believe me, there are more where these came from:
  1. Give the birthday boy/girl/combo a nice card for their birthday instead of a piece of cake. To be used on the NEXT visit. Not this one.
  2. Give the folks attending the party a small dollar version of gift card, thank them for spending this special day at your restaurant, and invite them to use it on their next visit.
  3. During your great Tuesday Happy Hour, give a $5 card to anyone in the bar who wants to stay for dinner tonight. Also to anyone who says they will come back for dinner another night. What the heck.
  4. When doing local catering to the school, law office, doctor’s office, local business, give the person who places the order a nice gift card, and each guest a copy of your menu and a small denomination card with a personal invite to dine in your restaurant.
  5. Put up signs EVERYWHERE:
    • The perfect gift for any occasion – our wonder food. Gift Cards available in any denomination.
    • The perfect gift for Mother’s Day – a month before…
    • The perfect gift for Admin Assistant week – for a month before …
    • The perfect gift for graduations, Christmas, birthdays, bring it on!
OR work on getting carpal tunnel and make out gift certificates for all of these occasions and be sure to review the advantages of doing so. Know what I mean? Want more? Just give me a buzz.

Find out more about what Oracle Hospitality can do for you! For more information contact us at oraclehosp_ww@oracle.com.

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