gift cards

Using gift cards to up your restaurant sales

Gift-giving can happen all year round, of course, but typically sales for gift cards start to ramp up from here on out. November and December traditionally make up about 50 per cent of gift card sales for the year, so this is the perfect time to look at how you plan to up sales through the holiday season.

Your restaurant needs a plan to make the process simple for your customers, encourage them to buy, and monitor those sales so you can improve the process – and your profits – along the way.

Paper or plastic

Think about the logistics of your gift cards as you try and make the process as enjoyable for your customers as possible. For gift-giving, many people prefer an actual card, rather than a paper printout and the redemption rate is much higher for actual cards, versus e-cards. However, making them available online as a virtual gift card allows people to purchase them when you’re closed or if they are from out of town. You may want to offer both options to appeal to as may customers as possible.

Dollars and cents

Consider whether it’s worth assigning denominations to your gift cards or leaving it up to your customers to set those amounts.  Having preprogrammed amounts might make it easier for people to purchase them from your website, as well as not putting them on the spot to decide on an amount when they buy in person. On the other hand, customers wanting to purchase an amount that covers a specific meal or dish may find choosing their own amount easier. Here’s where assessing sales and talking to your customers can help you decide the best way to go and tweak the process through the season.


You may want to consider a promotion to ramp up your gift card sales. You might try a one-for-me-one-for-you approach, where you reward the purchaser with their own card when they purchase a gift card above a certain threshold. Or you might offer a promotion where they get a gift card for $100, but it only costs them $90. You could even use it as a loyalty perk, offering additional points when gift cards are purchased. Your loyalty program is a great opportunity to reach your customers, track data, and boost sales.

RELATED: The future of restaurant loyalty


Get ahead of your competition by promoting gift-giving early. Attract instore attention with displays at your cash, promoting cards on your menu, and talking them up with customers. Include details on your website and in any blog content to boost your SEO and increase your chances of coming up on a Google search. Don’t forget social media as a great way to reach a broader audience and get your guests helping you increase your reach. Using a hashtag may make it easier for you to track mentions and engage with your target market.

As we get closer to the holidays and gift-giving is top of mind, get those sales building your bottom line with a solid gift card strategy that appeals to your guests with a seamless, hassle-free process.