Michigan-based Best Way Carpet Cleaning brought in $19,800 with suspended operations during the state-wide stay-at-home ban.
How did they do it? Gift Cards.
How to Implement Gift Cards
Business owner Jason Lawrence explained, “We are located in Ann Arbor and people around here have taken the Coronavirus very seriously. A week before our governor issued the lockdown we were only getting calls to postpone scheduled jobs and then the phone just stopped ringing altogether. We soon decided that even though we qualify as an essential service, it made more sense to just suspend operations to keep our employees and their families safe for the time being.”
Jason started seeing businesses set up “Go Fund Me” pages to save their businesses — something he wasn’t comfortable doing for his own business. “A week later I had the idea to start selling gift cards to our clients for future us so they could purchase something of value for themselves while helping our business too.
Whether or not you’re currently open for business, you want to let your customers know that you’ll be around when things begin to stabilize. What follows are tips on how to best implement gift cards during the coronavirus crisis.
1. Use an Incentive
“Make your gift cards discounted so that clients see a value in pre-purchasing your services. We gave 20% off but take into account any charges that the gift card website will be taking from your sales,” Jason said. When customers go to purchase a gift card, they can easily see how much they’re saving.
Irum Rashid Jones, Chief Operating Officer of Electrician on Call, created another kind of incentive for her customers. Customers got to vote on which area nonprofits they’d give up to 20% of their gift card sales to.
Irum explained how to use this incentive: If you’re donating to a nonprofit, make sure to have their EIN and tax info to write off the donation on your taxes. You also need permission from the nonprofit.
“Have the Gift Card set to NO REFUNDS, and disburse the amount to nonprofit annually or quarterly,” she explained. “If helping another small business, create a relationship to provide service to them in order for you to support them.”
2. During COVID-19, Consider No Expiration Date
Under normal circumstances, there are different ways that expiration dates can be used to encourage sales. As shown in the models above, you can use expiration dates to encourage people to book a service call before their card or the BOGO offer expires. These are commonly used incentives that you can consider in the future.
For the time being, Jason recommends that you keep the crisis in mind and consider no expiration date. “Let your clients decide when they feel comfortable having workers in their home again,” he explained.
On Best Way’s Facebook post promoting the gift cards, several customers asked about the expiration date. This gave the company an opportunity to express care for their customers and further encourage the sale of the card.
3. Promote Them Everywhere
Promote your new gift cards on your website and social media profiles. Jason recommends boosting the post on Facebook so that everyone in your area is sure to see it.
4. Send Out an Email to Your Existing Customers.
“We have been using Housecall Pro for one year now. In the past year we have added 1200 client email addresses that we didn’t have before Housecall Pro,” Jason explained.
“Being able to email all of our clients the gift card offer is what made it explode. Watching the sales come in by the minute was extremely heartwarming. Write a heartfelt email with your gift card offer that lets them know they will be helping all of your employees’ families through this time.”
Here’s the first part of the template used by Best Way which you can edit for your own business:
Dear valued clients,
Best Way Carpet Cleaning is following the State of Michigan Essential Service policy and we have suspended cleaning operations until the ban is lifted.
The current situation is hard on all of us Michiganders but our company will always put people’s safety above profits.
As an offer of our appreciation to all of you we are offering discounted Gift Cards for the next 3 weeks (until April 15th) which Never Expire and you save 20% to 25% which you can purchase online 24 hours a day and use towards that Super Deep Cleaning you will want for your home in the near future.
Click Here To Purchase Gift Cards
Or you can also call us at [phone number] to purchase the Gift Cards, as well.
Best Way ends the email by explaining the process of how to purchase gift cards online. The steps will vary depending on which service you use.
5. Promote them Over the Phone
“When people call to see if you are working, sell them on your gift cards,” Jason said. “That way, they are locked into using your company once things open back up. Even though our gift card offer has expired we are still selling them over the phone to lock people in.”
If you have a recorded message, remember to add the gift cards to the recording, as well.
6. Add Gift Card Purchases as Liabilities, Not Revenue
The Quickbooks team suggests adding gift cards as a product, then creating a new liability account for gift cards issued. The gift card amount should not be recognized as revenue until it is redeemed.
Listing them as liabilities can also help you keep the funds in perspective. “Remember that you still have to do the work down the road so try not to spend any of the money unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Jason said.
Try Gift Up With Housecall Pro
Housecall Pro has teamed up with Gift Up to allow our users to easily sell gift cards to their customers. The first $5,000-worth of cards that Housecall Pro users sell through Gift Up is fee-free through the end of June 2020. Current users can connect to Gift Up in the Housecall Pro App Store to get started.