Tis the Gift Certificate Season

Selling gift certificates is an easy way to make money and develop a new client base.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON is a great time to generate cash and stimulate spa sales by selling gift certificates to members and prospective customers. Whether you have a full-service spa or simply offer massage services in your locker rooms, selling gift certificates is an easy way to make money and develop a new client base. Furthermore, it's a way to create value within your membership base by offering a service many of your competitors may not.

Planning and marketing

The two most important aspects of developing a successful gift certificate program are planning and marketing. A good time to start the planning phase of your gift certificate program is October. There are several elements that go into the planning phase, such as evaluating your customer base, setting goals, establishing a tracking system, ensuring your financial systems are in place to manage the money properly and developing a marketing plan. The marketing plan should incorporate items such as who will be your target audience, what will be the "message and call to action" and what will be the methods of distribution.

It is quite possible that you missed the planning phase to sell gift certificates for spa services for the holiday season this year. However, it's not too late!

Identify target markets. Whether you started your campaign in October or November, or you're just getting started in December, first identify your target market. Some members are more likely to be a "buyer" than others, and your advertising dollars will be more wisely spent if you make sure you promote to them.

Establish sales goals. Early on in the planning phase, establish a sales goal -- no different than you would for membership sales.

Tracking and evaluating results

Establish a system of tracking your results on a daily basis, and evaluate your plan's effectiveness. It may be that things are going well and you only need to continue as planned. However, you may find that you need to adjust your efforts in order to meet your goals. Without tracking and evaluating your plan, you'll never really know how the program performed.

A proper system for tracking gift certificates is critical. Central to your system should be how your staff members inventory and distribute the certificates. The piece of paper the certificate is printed on should hold the same value for your staff as a cashier's check. It's as good as money, and has to be treated with the same level of security. Each certificate should be numbered and kept under close control until it is released to a customer. Once the customer pays for the certificate, it should be easy to track the method of payment to that specific certificate and customer.

When it comes to accounting for gift certificate sales, whether for spa services or any other type of gift certificate, the cash collected generally is placed on the fitness center's balance sheet and considered a "pre-paid" service. The cash received is technically a liability to your business until it is redeemed. Also, it's a good idea to put an expiration date on the certificate, but be wary of thinking the money is yours if it is not redeemed by the expiration date. Unredeemed certificates are often subject to state regulations, so be sure to know the regulations, if any.

Spa-services gift certificate sales should be a great source of revenue for your fitness center. Not only can you build a new customer base by attracting new users, but you will be providing a valuable service for your members. Happy Holidays!

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