Gift Certificates - who uses them, and what security measures do you use?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by msf, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. msf

    msf TPF Noob!

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    I was reading a thread the other day, and someone was talking about a bad experience with a customer that used a gift certificates. Someone also mentioned that gift certificates can be a good money maker since sometimes they are never used and its pure profit.

    So I was wondering who here does gift certificates, and what methods do you use to ensure that it isnt abused. I dont want someone to be able to recreate one with their name on it, and hand it to me as if it was a paid gift certificate. And its not exactly in the budget to get a gift card machine like what walmart uses with the magnetic back. : )

    With Christmas just around the corner, I believe this is something I would like to add to my client presentation as products I offer. I figure this is basically a referral program, I could offer the client a reduced package price that takes into consideration the referral program, so they think they are getting a great value for their dollar, and are giving a gift to someone that may not have used my services without it. Perhaps a $60 package gc for $40.
     
  2. UUilliam

    UUilliam TPF Noob!

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    just get a water mark like a shiny gold aluminium squiggle line so it is harder to recreate or make THREE peices to the card.
    1 part the back of the card
    part 2 the middle (with a secret message like THIS IS LEGIT)
    part 3. The front with the gift details

    How to assemble:
    Glue part 1 and 3 to the middle (but ensure you can still open the front/back)
    and when they give the card to you, open up the card and read the middle piece, most people wouldn't think to check the middle thus meaning if they forge one, they are more likely to get caught, then you can sue them for attempted Theft
     
  3. CygnusStudios

    CygnusStudios TPF Noob!

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    Most commercial gift cards have a serial number printed on them. Keep records of which were sold and in what amount. Simple as that.
     
  4. rub

    rub TPF Noob!

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    I am currently using 5x7 cards. They are nice and heavy, not as easy to loose. I sign and number them by hand on the back. They are almost like a giant business cards, but it say the GC info on them.

    I keep a record of who has purchased them and the value.

    Its not the traditional way to go, but they are very presentable. And I dont have to worry about them being copied that way.
     
  5. msf

    msf TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies. lots of good advice here. : )
     
  6. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yup. This is very sensible... easy too.

    I always add an expiration date. I don't want to worry about some unused certificate out there turning up in 10 years. I usually make it good for a year, but (of course) would accept one if it's a reasonable time past the date.

    I suspect you use some sort of bookkeeping program.... point of sale, Quickbooks, .... something.
    In order to show money coming in, you'll have to create an account. This, of course, happens when you sell the certificate. So you will naturally have a record of every certificate sold. I wouldn't worry about counterfeits.

    As far as a referral program goes, why worry? Anyone who presents a "coupon" is a pre-qualified customer. They will have to prepare for the portrait and take time out for the session. You can't sell photographs if you don't have files to print.

    -Pete
     
  7. Reese's PB Luver

    Reese's PB Luver TPF Noob!

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    You enter every card number into your computer program of choice (whether you use a photography customer management program like PhotoOne [which will actually print out gift certificates for you and keep the record of them] or even just an Excel spreadsheet [do NOT delete records of old cards to show they have been used - use some sort of indicator that they have been used like a code or strikeout and list the date of use]). When somebody uses a card/certificate, you look it up in your program to verify the amount/amount left on the card (if it is partially used) and to keep track of it.

    You can use printed certificates or buy numbered cards from any one of the companies that allows you to order plastic gift cards in bulk (you don't need mag strips [magnetic strips to use in card readers] on them, just a number - mag strips are best used by large companies so employees don't have to type every card number in by hand, wasting time and possibly sales as other customers wait in line). Whatever you do, make them professional-looking and presentable. And make sure pertinent info. is on the cards, such as business name, Web site, phone number, etc. so ppl can find you easily.

    Yes, gift cards are great advertising tools as well as money-making tools. But there's no need for you to lose money by offering something that is $60 for $40 (and ppl aren't dumb; they'll buy themselves gift cards/have family buy them gift cards just to save money and you'll lose money). Ppl buy gift cards when they need a gift to give somebody; if they like your work and want somebody they know to have the same experience/products, they'll buy the gift card. If you are adamant on offering something for gift card purchases, offer a small reward (i.e. $15 off their next order of 5 prints or more) for a large gift card purchase (i.e. if they buy $100 worth of gift card, whether it is four $25 cards, two $50 cards, or one $100 card, OR if they buy a certain number of gift cards, such as when they buy three or more gift cards [assuming they will give the cards to different ppl/families, this is a great deal for you]).

    Offer the card in certain denominations, i.e. $25, $50, $75, $100, etc.
     
  8. Reese's PB Luver

    Reese's PB Luver TPF Noob!

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    Everybody be sure to check on the legalities of gift certificate/card expiration dates in your area. There was a big to-do about one-year-expiration gift cards a few years back that involved big corporations like Simon Malls and the large department stores. Most cards (if not all) don't expire anymore because of it.
     
  9. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Oh... no worries. A gift card is an entirely different animal.

    And... are you certain the problem was with an expiration date. I thought it had to do with hidden fees (deductions) that came onto the account as time passed.

    -Pete
     
  10. Reese's PB Luver

    Reese's PB Luver TPF Noob!

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    No, I'm not certain, but ever since then gift cards have not had expiration dates, so I think that was one problem (although the fees were definitely another problem). I think I remember both being issues at the same time, but, no, I'm not 100% positive about it.
     

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