In this post I’m going to make the case for streamlining your gift certificate sales efforts. There are many great ways to do this, including: offering online gift certificates directly from website, making gift certificates easy to purchase by accepting credit cards via your smart phone and finally offering free delivery of your gift certificates. Each of these value added services will increase your sales.
A few reasons (besides money) to amp-up your Gift-Certificates efforts for Valentines Day
1. Your potential new client gets to SAMPLE experience your skills as a massage therapist FOR FREE . All this via a GIFT for bodywork with YOU.
2. The Gift-Giver gets to bask in the glory of giving a great gift. BONUS: The Gift Giver also gets the glory of helping you succeed in your business both with the money they spend and the potential client they send.
3. You, you get the opportunity to audition with a potential new client. You get the chance to start building an ongoing relationship. Plus, you have a prepared audience ready to pull out there wallet and buy something special for someone special for a holiday all about love.
If you want to skip ahead and check out those resources and links to services they are available at the end of this post.
So, before I get into the how to get prepared to amp up your V-day gift-certificate efforts, I want to share a little story about why I stopped selling gift certificates for a long time.
Years ago, back in the beginning of my career, I had a woman contact me three years after she was given a gift certificate for massage. Three years. How annoying!
I wanted to do the right thing. But what was the right thing?
Legally, in the state where I sold the gift certificate, Montana, simply adding an expiration won’t hold up in court if it ever came down to getting the law involved. The fact that she wanted to get a massage three years after she received the GC was not really the problem. Yes,it was annoying. I’d long ago spent that money. Doing a massage now would feel like I was working for free. Still, I wanted to be professional about the situation. I would have provided the massage but for two factors.
- I was no longer living in the same town. I’d moved to Colorado a year before.
- She didn't call to schedule a massage. She called to get money.
The second factor didn’t sit well with me. And the first, I wasn’t going to travel back from Colorado to do one massage.
I admit, I made several mistakes in this transaction and it started back in the beginning.
- I wasn’t keeping good records. And I didn’t take the records that I had with me to Colorado. According to the law, I am responsible to provide services or give money back if I am unable to perform services. The catch in this case is that the money would rightfully be returned to the buyer of the gift certificate, not the recipient.
- I didn’t keep gift certificate money in a specific account so that when this sort of inevitable scenario occurs that money is easily refunded. Further, and more importantly I would never be in a position to feel like I have to provide free massage. This is important because it can effect the quality of your work.
But at that time in my life, I was young and dumb and full of righteous indignation. In my mind, she was trying to pull a scam and I wasn’t about to be duped.
Still, I felt obligated to make good on the transaction. This was a matter of honor and reputation for me. I wanted to be professional as possible.
So I contacted a fellow therapist who was still living/working in the area, explained the situation. Negotiating a better deal for her if she was willing to provide the massage in my stead. If the woman showed, I would pay my friend 20% more than her normal rate and maybe she’d get a new client out of the deal. If not the problem would be solved. I felt I did my best to right a bad situation.
The conversation with the woman went something like this. (please note: all names have been changed)
Me: Hi Sherri, this is Renee. I’m calling back about the gift certificate for massage. I think I’ve found a solution. I’ve contacted a friend of mine who is also a massage therapist. She has agreed to provide the massage for you since I’m now living in Colorado.
Sherri: But the massage gift certificate is from you.
Me: I realize that but I told you before I’m not living in Montana anymore. I moved out of the state a year ago. You had two years to schedule a massage with me. I want to help you out, but I am not driving back to Montana to give you a massage.
Sherri: You know that you legally have to give me the massage or money back.
Me: I know you think I owe you a massage and it seems to me you’d rather have the money than a massage. You can have the massage, but you will have to schedule it with my friend Leiah, here is her phone number. She is happy to work with you. I’ll pay her after she has completed the session. Everyone wins.
Sherri: If I took this to court….
Me: Are you going to take this to court?
Sherri: No, but,
Me: Call Leiah, it sounds like a massage would be really helpful to relieve stress in your life. Its free. You already have a gift certificate. Call Leiah. Take Care. Bye.
I hung up the phone. The problem was no longer in my hands.
I’ve never forgotten that experience. It wasn’t a win:win at all. In my mind, it was actually kinda bad all the way around. This woman, even if she got a massage from my colleague (which she didn’t) would not likely be in a financial position or even an energetic position to become a quality client. My massage colleague had to deal with a client who would likely come to the session with a resentful attitude. Nothing but money would have satisfied the woman. And the person who gave the gift certificate instead of being appreciated would likely get an irate earful. Nothing about the situation felt good to me, I was irritated about it for weeks. Now, years later, I still wish it would have gone more smoothly. Alas, this is how we learn, right.
In hindsight, if I'd had the extra money myself at the time, I would have just given it to her. I’m pretty sure at that moment in her life, extra cash would have brought her more stress relief than massage.
This is a perfect example of the question, “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?” Whenever I’m really struggling with my righteous indignation this is the question I try to ask myself to get clear on what really matters.
The experience caused me to stop pushing/providing gift certificates for a long time, despite the many advantages.
Since that time I’ve gotten better about my record keeping, I’ve discovered systems and technology that helps me track my efforts as well as distribute products and services.
The most important thing to remember: the sooner the gift-certificate is used, the sooner you have the opportunity to start building a relationship with a new client.
Before you run out the door ready to sell, sell, sell.
Do you have a user-friendly system to track your sales and new clients?
Do you have a separate account for Gift Certificates?
Do you have an easy way for your clients to pay? You will sell a lot more gift
- If at all possible get the recipients name and contact information and let the buyer know you would like to contact them after 90 days to offer to them scheduled. As recipients of such great gifts we often want to wait until a “special day” or “when we have time.” It gets put on a shelf so long that it either gets forgotten about. The sooner you get the client on the table the sooner they get to feel good. The sooner you will be able to know if there is a good energetic resonance between you and if you this person is likely to become a client. This is win:win for both of you
- At the very least keep good records of your sales. Be sure to get the buyers name contact information. In case you need it for future reference.
- Send a thank you note to the buyer. Great goodwill that will result in future purchases.
- The sooner you find out that the recipient of the Gift Certificate even likes massage the better. If you need to refund the money or allow that person to regift do it quickly. A gift certificate is money left on the table and potential client waiting to become client/or not. It really sucks to have someone come forward three years after the original sale and tell you that they don’t even like massage so they put that gift certificate away and now they’d like to get a refund.
- Speaking of refunds and responsibilities regarding gift certificate sales, I highly suggest stating your policy somewhere on the certificate itself as well as the receipt. Remember: many states do not allow you to put an expiration date the gift certificate. As in: expiration date will not hold up in court. You can however have a caveat that Gift Certificates are redeemable for services only, no cash refund. Check out the laws regarding your state complements of NCLS (Click Here)
- Have an account specifically for gift certificates and other promotions that will be dealt with in the future. No matter how tempting, don’t touch that money until services have been rendered. The good news your diligence and discipline will pay great dividends if you don’t rely on that gift certificate money at all for your regular business expenses. It is all icing on the cake, or a big investment sometime in the future.
So…. if I haven’t scared you away from running a Valentines Day Gift Certificate Campaign
Here are a few resources that will support your success. Click the links below to find out more.
Gift certificates your clients can purchase online https://www.thegiftcardcafe.com/pricing.php
This is one of my favorite Gift-Certificate vendors. High quality paper stock. Plus it has slots for your business card. http://ow.ly/sqZ3c
COMPARE: mobile credit card payment products and services that use your smart phone. http://ow.ly/sr2xO
My favorite business tracking service http://www.freshbooks.com/ I like it especially because I can track my time easily. I also love the reports. Those of you who know me would never expect that I would get excited about an accounting service. If I think it is easy and user friendly, it is.
Over the next few weeks I will be offering more suggestions and tools to help you market your massage business for Valentines Day.
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