Advantages of Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs for Restaurants

Advantages of Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs for Restaurants

Like many other types of businesses, restaurants thrive when they can effectively market to new customers and generate a strong stream of repeat customers.  If you want to attract and retain customers for your restaurant, you should consider adding gift cards and loyalty programs to your marketing strategy.

Implementing a gift card program benefits restaurants in several ways as selling gift cards brings in immediate revenue and encourages new customers who receive the gift cards to come to your restaurant.  It has been shown that customers are more likely to try a new restaurant that they may not otherwise try after receiving a gift card.  Implementing loyalty programs in which you offer special prices and promotions to previous customers is a great way to build a strong base of repeat customers. 

First MCS can help businesses implement point of sale (POS) systems, as well as perks like gift cards and loyalty programs.

Gift cards are also excellent marketing during the holiday season as people who are familiar with your restaurant may buy gift cards from you and give them as gifts to family, friends, and co-workers.  In this guide, we will discuss the main benefits for restaurants that include gift cards and loyalty programs as part of their marketing strategy, as well as how to market your gift cards during the holiday season and the rest of the year.

If you have decided to implement gift cards or a loyalty program in our restaurant, our professionals at First MCS can help you implement these programs into your point of sale (POS) system.

Benefits of Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs for Restaurants

Gift cards are an invaluable source of revenue for restaurants, and they are effective for attracting new customers.  Loyalty programs can help retain previous customers with special offers for repeat business.  The following are the main benefits of implementing these programs at your restaurant.

Boost Cash Flow

Many restaurants deal with cash flow issues, especially those who were hit hard by the pandemic and are still trying to recover lost revenue.  Offering gift cards can help immediately boost cash flow as the purchase of the gift cards provides money for your restaurant upfront without preparing or serving a meal.  The cash from gift card purchases immediately goes into the revenue of the restaurant.

The other way that gift cards help boost revenue is that customers who use gift cards often spend more than the value of the card.  Those who enjoy their meal when they use a gift card are also more likely to become repeat customers.

Increase Brand Awareness

Selling gift cards increases brand awareness as those who receive gift cards for your restaurant will think of you first instead going out to eat at a competitor.  It also helps if your gift cards are designed to incorporate your branding including your colors and logo.

Increase Sales

As mentioned above, customers who visit a restaurant with a gift card often purchase more than the value of the card.  In fact, it has been shown more than 72 percent of gift card holders go beyond the original value which means more sales for your restaurant.  If a customer spends less than the value of the gift card, they are more likely to come back to use the rest of the card and spend beyond the remaining balance.

Attract New Customers

Restaurants need to attract new customers to be successful.  Implementing a gift card program is a great way to bring in new customers.

People who already enjoy your restaurant are motivated to buy gift cards for others to encourage them to experience your restaurant.  This allows your current customers to help generate a whole new customer base who may become repeat customers themselves after their first visit.  It has been shown that 44 percent of consumers are motivated to try a new restaurant they would not try otherwise if they received a gift card.

Engage Existing Customers

Gift cards and customer loyalty programs can help restaurants engage their existing customers and turn them into loyal customers.  Restaurants tend to make more revenue from loyal customers, whether they return to the restaurant frequently or occasionally.  Offering special deals through an email list or loyalty program that customers sign up for will give your current customer base a reason to keep coming back. 

You can also offer gift cards as an alternative to a cash refund or to accommodate for mistakes which helps make customers happy and more likely to return to your restaurant while avoiding the loss that comes with issuing refunds.

Allow Customers to Support Your Business

The restaurant industry was hit particularly hard by the pandemic which has motivated some consumers to help support their local restaurants.  Independent restaurants tend to have regular customers who may be motivated to support these restaurants by purchasing gift cards and encouraging new customers to visit their favorite restaurant.

How to Market Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs for Your Restaurant

After implementing gift cards and loyalty programs, you need to engage in effective marketing to encourage people to purchase gift cards and sign up for loyalty programs.  The following tips will help with gift card marketing:

In-Store Signage

You can motivate your customers to buy gift cards with in-store signage that makes them aware that you have gift cards available.  Make sure the signage has an eye-catching design that incorporates your branding and messaging.  Let your customers know that your gift cards make great gifts for any holiday or event and that purchasing gift cards is a great way to support your business.

Encourage Staff to Promote Gift Cards

Your staff can help increase sales of your gift cards by promoting them to your customers.  Encourage your staff to mention your gift cards as an excellent gift idea and a great way to support your business.  They should also inform customers of how they can purchase gift cards.

While some light salesmanship from staff can help sell more gift cards, do not implement quotas for selling gift cards.  Bombarding your customers with pressure to buy gift cards will likely have the opposite effect.

Offer Digital Gift Cards

Offering digital gift cards is crucial to reach customers who order online instead of coming into your restaurant.  Customers can conveniently purchase and implement digital gift cards for their online orders.  Make sure you advertise your digital gift cards on your website as well as through food ordering and delivery apps.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a highly effective marketing strategy as this gives you an opportunity to market directly to customers.  You can build an email list by asking for signups at your location, on your website, or through your social media channels.  Offer those who sign up for your marketing emails special promotions as part of a loyalty program and be sure to market your gift cards as an excellent gift idea and way to support your business.

Marketing Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs During the Holidays

The holiday season is a prime season to market your gift cards as excellent gift ideas.  You can also market your loyalty program to encourage current customers to come to your restaurant with their friends and families as part of their holiday get togethers.

The following are effective marketing tips for your gift cards and loyalty program over the holidays:

Offer Holiday Perks

Your restaurant can attract more customers over the holiday season by offering holiday perks.  This can include menu items that are only available during the holiday season as well as offering gift cards for customers whose bills exceed a certain amount.  You can also offer free items, such as a drink or appetizer with a purchase, for those who are part of your loyalty program.

Holiday Promotions

Holiday promotions such as special deals on certain items during the holiday season or offering rewards for certain levels of purchases can bring in new customers as well as repeat customers who are enticed by the promotion.  This can also help encourage the sale of gift cards as your current customers may want to get others to come in during your holiday promotion by giving them gift cards.  Getting more customers in the door with holiday promotions often results in these customers spending more.

Incentivize Customers to Enroll in Loyalty Programs

Implementing a loyalty program is a great way to encourage customers to come back to your restaurant.  During the holiday season, offer a gift card as a free gift for those who join your loyalty program.  This will help increase the number of signups for your loyalty program during the holidays which will lead to more repeat customers the rest of the year.

Implement Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs with First MCS

Implementing and marketing gift cards and loyalty programs can greatly benefit restaurants by attracting new customers and building a stronger sense of loyalty among repeat customers.  The holiday season in particular is a great time to market your gift cards as holiday gifts and offer incentives to encourage more customers to sign up for your loyalty programs.  When you are ready to implement a gift card or loyalty program at your restaurant, contact our professionals at First MCS.

First MCS is a merchant service provider that can help businesses implement point of sale (POS) systems, as well as perks like gift cards and loyalty programs.  We can integrate the payment processing for your loyalty programs and gift cards into your POS to make it easy for you to offer loyalty program deals and discounts as well as sell, reload, and track gift cards.  An effective gift card and loyalty program can help boost the revenue for your restaurant by attracting and retaining a loyal customer base.

Call First MCS today at (866) 673-3099 if you are interested in adding gift cards and loyalty programs for your restaurant.

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