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Gift certificates are no longer considered an impersonal gift. In fact, they can be the perfect gift for a wide variety of consumers. As a result, running a successful gift certificate program is a great way to increase revenue, acquire new members and encourage repeat business. However, there are specific ways to capitalize on these opportunities.
Promoting gift certificates during the holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays and religious holidays can be very successful. And with advanced technology available today, you can now sell more than just paper gift certificates. E-cards and plastic gift cards (with a magstripe) are also great options. Each offers a benefit — you just have to consider which ones are right for your club.
Having an online store or shopping cart allows you to sell e-cards or e-gifts in a way that’s extremely convenient for your customers. Using a link on your website, you can direct both members and non-members to your online store where they can purchase these gifts. One of the benefits of this method is that a confirmation e-mail is sent to the customer, along with a separate personalized e-mail to the recipient, who can then print it. This means that you don’t have to keep an inventory of actual cards.
Typically, a barcode will be included within the recipient e-mail so that the club can just scan it when using it in a sale (a barcode reader would be used). Many club management software (CMS) companies will offer this service — you just have to ask.
Having a computer or Wi-Fi access available to your members will allow them to go online inside the club, and make the purchase right then and there if they’d like to. However, be cautious of online gift certificate programs that are not provided by your existing software provider, as they can cause you to have to manage two systems for tracking the gift certificate sale and redemption.
Plastic gift cards are also a great way to go. Since the value is tied to the actual card, this makes it easy for the recipient to use. Members of your club can also share them with friends, family or non-members to make purchases in the club. The gift cards should be customized with your logo and contain any terms and conditions that apply. Just make sure that you plan ahead for inventory during your peak gift sale seasons and holidays. You should display the gifts at the front desk or wherever purchases are made. Sometimes, the reminder of the availability of these cards will spur impulse buying.
Using a gift program that exists within your current CMS system is beneficial for many reasons. Gift programs offered by an outside merchant processor may result in additional fees, some of which can be considered hefty. These can range from a setup fee to a high per-transaction fee. Additionally, these cards might not limit the redemption to your club specifically; it could be redeemed at other businesses (this will depend on the kind of card service that you use).
However, you need to measure the success of the program. This includes running reports to track the volume of sales/redemptions and any outstanding liability. Your accountant will probably be interested in the outstanding liability on a regular basis. Should you sell your club, you will need this information as part of the sale transfer. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have a simple way to audit a gift certificate program.
Speaking of success, it is recommended that your gift certificates are included in all advertising and marketing campaigns including in-club signage, member welcome packets, social media, TV, radio, coupons, websites and print ads. Including a link in the signature of your e-mail is a subtle reminder to recipients that you have gift certificates available for purchase.
One last suggestion is to tie gift certificates into your club promotions as a good way to increase awareness and sales. You can do things like offering a discounted gift certificate to members who give you a referral that joins. Take a look at what you have planned for the year and see if you can tie it in.
Susanne Nauseda has an Exercise Science Degree that she put to use in the industry for 10 years prior to joining Twin Oaks Software, where she has worked for the last 12 years. You can reach her at 866.278.6750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.