A Gift Voucher is a very useful tool for most retail and service businesses. In its most basic form it is an advertisement for your business, but it can be so much more. (They’re also referred to as Gift Cards or Gift Certificates, can be paper or plastic or be an e-card).
It can be sold to a client who wishes to give it as a gift, so that it in turn becomes a tremendous opportunity to gain a new client when the recipient redeems the voucher at your business. That’s why it should reflect your business and its image – don’t skimp and opt for a piece of paper with your logo on it and some handwritten detail.
This is the true meaning of a Gift Voucher: Very, very important …
When a customer purchases a voucher from you, they are actually paying your business a compliment – they are demonstrating that they are impressed by your business, that they trust it so much they are prepared to recommend it to others. So, don’t blow it by handing them a badly printed slip of paper! Or, even worse, providing the recipient with a less than satisfactory experience when the voucher is redeemed.
The voucher’s perceived value is much higher than the cost to your business
Don’t forget that when someone buys a gift voucher from you, they pay you full retail value, while you are providing it at your cost price. This applies whether the voucher is for a specific product/service or a set monetary value.
It has even Higher Value
When people visit your business to redeem their voucher, they usually end up spending more than the value they received.
Use it to sell other products and services
When a gift voucher is redeemed it provides you an opportunity to sell other products & services. Use their visit to expose them not only to these, but to your overall business as well. Give another discount (or a separate voucher) which is valid when that person buys from you again.
“Can you sponsor a prize?“
Another use of gift vouchers is when charities – or schools, sports clubs etc – ask you for some form of sponsorship or prize. Money has no “memory” for the recipient, and handing over a bottle of wine or some product as a prize might bear no resemblance to your overall business. A gift voucher will have your logo, slogan and contact details on it. It often gets shown to friends or family – “Look what I won!” – so there’s added exposure for your business.
Try to get the the name and contact details of the winners, as they might not be aware of your business and exactly what it offers. Contact them, congratulate them, explain the prize and encourage them to make an appointment (if applicable).
Promote your vouchers
It’s not enough to have a stack of vouchers stored in a drawer or safe – you have to let customers know that you offer them. Place signs at prominent spots in your store, such as at till points, product shelves, even in display windows. Include a notice in your adverts, flyers, email signatures and on Social Media pages.
When people become aware of your gift vouchers it can often help to spark ideas for gifts, sort of a “Ah, now I know what I can give so-and-so for his birthday” reaction.
Make sure you are geared to make the most of your vouchers
Begin by ensuring that your staff are aware of the value of these vouchers to your business – when the bearer walks in they must not be treated as some nuisance out for a freebie! Remember, that voucher is like a recommendation from the person who purchased it from you. Money has already been spent in your business, so they must be made to feel welcome.
As a first step, it’s advisable to obtain information from the voucher purchaser about the recipient. At the very least, obtain a name and contact number or e-mail address. Ask whether the voucher is for a special occasion such as a birthday and make a note of that on the voucher counterfoil (or somewhere on your administration system. When the recipient comes in, exploit that knowledge and make them feel extra welcome.
If you have their contact details, you can get in touch after some time has passed to make sure they understand what is being offered. Ask them when it would be convenient to make an appointment for them. You can even offer to extend the voucher expiry date.
General tips for Gift Vouchers
- A popular and practical form of voucher is to allow space where a product or a value can be written in. This makes it more flexible for both your business and the person purchasing it from you, compared to having a voucher printed with a set value. This also enables you to “play games” … you could talk a potential purchaser of the gift voucher into giving a product you bought in at a lower rate, for example, or where there is slow-moving or excess stock of a product.
- An expiry date. While this can sometimes be necessary to protect your business against cost escalations, always consider if you can get away without it. If you must have it, don’t be overly strict if the voucher has expired and there is little “damage” done. The greater threat of damage lies in annoying the person who then spreads negative word about your business.
- Do you want to have it numbered? This can facilitate better control. You can even have vouchers printed in book form, so there’s a counterfoil to refer back to. You can also use the counterfoil to note details about the recipient.
- Do you want to have space where you or a manager can sign?
- Do you need a “Not redeemable/exchangeable for cash” statement? (Can help avoid unpleasant scenes).Take a fresh look at the vouchers you are selling or handing out – are they working as hard for you as they should?
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