Restaurant gift cards are a promise of future business during a time of great uncertainty. With COVID-19 forcing restaurateurs across the nation to find alternate ways to get quality food to their customers, gift cards offer an additional revenue stream and a way to maintain a strong community relationship.
Modern digital advances make it possible to shape a gift card program to your specific business, the conditions in your area, and the tastes of your diners. By linking restaurant gift cards to POS solutions, you can better protect your business’s most important asset: your loyal customers.
The Value of Gift Cards
Gift cards are both money in the bank and a promise to spend more. On average, a customer with a gift card to the value of around $27 will end up spending more than 10% above that pre-paid sum during their stay. What is more, gift card recipients are more likely to return to your business.
Gift cards have become one of the most popular gifts during the holiday season, with a reported jump in sales of more than 10% over the past two years attributed to a culture that now favors experiences as gifts.
Perhaps most importantly, gift cards are a proven way to empower your loyal customers to spread the word about your business. Over 40% of consumers try a new business for the first time after receiving a gift card, and no form of marketing is better than the recommendation of a friend—especially when that friend has already paid for dinner.
With COVID-19 forcing many to tighten their belts, having a loyal customer encourage your dining experience among their peers is a good way to build new business. You just have to make it easy for your existing customers to act on your behalf.
Restaurant Gift Cards with POS Power
Many restaurant owners and managers are trading in their static cash registers and complicated manual ordering systems for all-in-one point of sale solutions. These cloud-driven platforms link every facet of service and preparation into a single tablet or smartphone network that combines purchase orders, inventory management, and staff management with the live ordering and table management of active service.
From a single touch-screen terminal, you can track a customer’s experience from reservation to final check and deliver all the bill and table splitting, menu variations, and tabs needed for a great night out.
The leading examples of these digital solutions have built-in gift card functionality that keeps the books balanced and gives you the flexibility to offer a range of services to your loyal and local guests.
Restaurant Gift Cards POS Potentials
Linking a gift card program to a multi-purpose POS platform allows you to get creative with what you offer to your customers. From plastic to digital, one-off events or ongoing loyalty rewards, and online or in-person activation, you can tailor a solution that will encourage your customers to keep coming back for more, no matter how you may provide your service now.
- Physical or digital: The actual gift card is just a link to the POS software that records your customer information and tracks sales, so you can let your customers give either physical or digital gifts.
- Magnet strip, QR Code, or barcode: If you want to use quality plastic cards you can choose between these three connection types. Each has its security and accessibility advantages, and the final choice will depend on what type of scanner or card reader you prefer in your POS system.
- Branding and messaging: Of course your restaurant name and logo should take pride of place on the gift card, but you can also leave room for your customer to leave a personal mark on their gift, either in words or images.
- Any amount is a good amount: With restrictions on movement and gatherings this holiday season it makes sense to offer customers a wide monetary range of gift cards to accommodate their needs, be it a quick pick-me-up for a friend or an entire cook-at-home family meal kit.
- Fixed or reloadable: You can let your customers reload and reuse their cards or insist on a single event experience that accentuates the uniqueness of the gift.
- Delivered the right way: Your gift cards can be tailored to reflect the most appropriate way of serving your customers. If you prefer online orders home delivered, in-person pickups, or outdoor dining, you can steer traffic that way by offering greater rewards on your gift card options.
- Cash, discount, or privilege: You are not limited to cash transactions when using restaurant gift card POS solutions. You can offer discounts, reusable seasonal offerings, food and wine combinations, or access to premium offerings and discounted events.
- Link to loyalty: Rewarding loyalty is important during times of uncertainty, so linking your gift cards to ongoing customer incentives can be a good idea. The gift card can be an entry point to your loyalty programs, a reward for membership, or a perk of introducing others to your business.
All these options and alternatives can be combined to build something unique to a restaurant and valuable to your core customers.
Build the Perfect Gift Card
You know your diners, and you should be able to put together a gift card offer that will impress them this holiday season, despite the ongoing COVID-19 conditions. If your card system is linked to a dynamic POS solution then you’ve got the flexibility to control your resources and make sure whatever you offer makes sound financial sense.
If your regulars can’t have big family gatherings this year, then maybe they’d like to give the gift of a meal pack for each of their nearest and dearest and share the same food anyway. If your area is allowing only outdoor dining, then let your diners gift picnic packs or dessert packages.
Whatever solution you pursue, remember that the goal is to maintain connections with your loyal guests, and to allow them to share the gift of dining with you among their friends.