Running a small business can be a rewarding endeavor, as long as you have a good grip on your cash flow. For retailers, restaurants, salons, etc., the holiday season – with all its gift card sales and Christmas purchases – usually is a land flowing with milk and honey.
So, why do so many small businesses wait until August (or later) to order gift cards again? It’s a question that continues to confound me. There are better ways to save time and money on plastic card printing.
Don’t Wait to Order Plastic Cards
If you are a small business owner, I encourage you to look at your budgeting for plastic cards right now. When you buy earlier in the year, as opposed to trying to swap dollars at the end, there are deals to be had, particularly in the first quarter. Not only will printing be faster and more cost-efficient, you will also avoid the usual printing rush charges the precede the holidays.
Plus, when you order plastic cards before August, you have time to get more creative. As an industry, we are pushing the limit of creativity, but there’s a time investment associated with that. Give yourself the latitude to go through the development process, as opposed to hurrying through just to get the cards by November. The great thing is that you’ll be ready to promote your exciting new designs in September!
Ask Your Plastic Card Printer for Advice
My favorite thing about working with small businesses is how loyal you can be. In most cases, large companies are simply looking for the best quality for the lowest price – period. But with small businesses, I often work directly with the owner. We develop a rapport. I love building a relationship that has the potential to last for years.
And I love giving good advice to my customers when they request it. So, ask for it! I encourage you to contact your printer and find out how he or she can partner with you on this process.
Take Advantage of Gift Card Cash Flow All Year
One question I often get from small business owners is, “How many gift cards do you think I should order?” Of course, this depends on each business. The first step is to look at your numbers from last year, of course, as well as the distribution of sales over the past 12-month period. Don’t forget that people buy gift cards all year long!
Other questions to think about include: What does your customer base look like? How are you marketing your products and/or services? What are the latest industry trends?
Between 2009 and 2010, we watched the average dollar amount on a gift card drop by half, thanks to economic conditions. However, the overall dollars spent were the same. People bought more gift cards but with fewer dollars on them, causing gift cards sales to rise, overall. Right now, gift card use is phenomenal and continuing to grow.
I’ll end with this example. One of my long-time small business customers ordered 1,000 cards from me in 2012. On average, her customers spent $25 on each card, with breakage (i.e., gift cards that are never redeemed) coming in at about 10%, or $1250. She paid approximately $500 for plastic card printing but made more than $12,000!
So, what are you waiting for? Ask your printer for advice, consider placing an order now and take advantage of the cash flow that plastic cards can bring to your small business.