Choosing a gift card company
A gift card company can set up a robust system tailored to your business in a surprisingly short among of time – typically anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. They’re capable of providing a system that can process hundreds of gift card transactions per second for a nationwide restaurant franchise or an affordable solution for a single brick and mortar store. Be on the lookout for:
- Experience & Reputation – The gift card company you work with should offer a solid mix of experience, customer service, and industry knowledge to help you develop a program that works best for you. So before you sign up with any gift card company, find out how long they have been doing business. In particular, look for a reputable vendor that’s been around a long time and has a good track record for implementing successful programs. You can never be too sure about the quality of a smaller, less-experienced gift card company. And a poorly produced and amateurish-looking card could adversely affect your brand image and resulting sales.
- Compatibility – Experienced gift card companies exhibit fair business practices. You shouldn't do business with a gift card company offering programs that only work with their payment processing equipment. If you do, switching to a new payment processor later can cause problems for your existing customer accounts. You may even have to start a new gift card program from scratch, which could lead to some very unhappy customers and some considerable damage to your brand image. So look for a gift card system and payment processing equipment that is compatible with multiple vendors.
- Program Management – If you don’t have the time or patience to manage your program, a gift card company can set you up with a third-party database management company. In doing so, you can concentrate on building your business, while an outside vendor manages the cards, the outstanding balances, and any customer service issues. However, it’s worth noting that many gift card systems are fairly easy to manage yourself.
Questions to ask before signing up
If possible, get a list of customers the gift card company has worked with, preferably businesses similar to yours. Either call or visit their locations and ask questions like:
- Did the vendor help design a customized system that worked for you?
- Were they able to offer a solution that fit your budget constraints or system limitations?
- Was the program easy to implement?
- Does the gift card company offer 24x7 customer service and technical support?
- How often does the system go down, if at all?
- How responsive is the vendor when you had problems?
- Do they require contracts? And if so, were they clear and detailed?
- Did the vendors offer a live demonstration of the product before you purchased?
- Was there a particular obstacle you faced in implementing gift cards? How did the vendor help you overcome that?