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By: CHEF Sonia, Success Manager, The Chef Alliance.  Posted Winter 2018

The busy holiday season is just around the corner.  This is the most critical revenue-generating time of year.  Foodservice operators must take advantage of the additional spending that consumers will be doing or be prepared to lose out.


One method that many businesses follow is to promote their gift cards. In the US, gift card sales for 2018 are estimated to be over $150billion! Why? Gift cards are an easy, no stress way to give a gift.

Customers shopping with gift cards are less price-sensitive than those spending their “own money” hence they are more likely to pay full price for your product or service.

For businesses, it's even better - consumers typically spend in excess of the value of the gift card, which is great for your bottom line. In addition, over 60% of recipients redeem them within 2 months of receiving them, giving the typically quiet months of January and February a welcome boost.


Each province in Canada deals with gift cards slightly differently.  As of 2018, the follow guidelines can be found at  In general, gift cards for a specific dollar amount, for example, a $100 gift card, are not allowed to expire.

Expiry dates are allowed for:
- Cards issued for a specific good or service, e.g. a gift certificate for a Cooking Lesson can expire.
- Cards that were sold at a discount, e.g. if a business discounted their services during a promotion or a gift certificate was purchased at an auction.
- Cards sold for charitable purposes

Consider offering incentives to purchasers, especially during peak gift-giving periods such as Christmas, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day etc.  For example, offer a $5 coupon for every $100 in gift cards purchased.  Since the recipients will usually spend more than the value loaded to the cards, these types of promotions typically won't cost you a penny.  You also create the opportunity to bring two gift card shoppers back to your business.

In addition to promoting events for which gift cards can be used for, consider promoting the value of giving a gift card. For example, remind customers of the benefits (e.g. they don’t expire, etc…) and of the value (e.g. they can be used for your award-winning cupcakes, a private cooking lesson, an elegant dinner for 4 etc.).

Elevate purchasing a gift card by placing it in a free envelope or gift card holder, placing it in a cellophane or gift bag with colourful tissue and ribbon etc.  The easier you make the gift giving for the purchaser, the more likely they are to make repeat purchases.  You could also package it with a small sampler of your famous chutney or cookies etc!

When schools or charities ask for fundraiser donations, offer gift cards instead of products or full-value services.  Why?  Let's say you donate a gift basket filled with $100 worth of your products and your marketing materials.  You will likely never see the person who won the basket.  However, if you donate a $100 gift card instead, the winner will have to contact you in order to redeem the gift card, giving you the opportunity to up-sell.  Two $50 gift cards will get you two customers - potentially giving you more 'bang for your (marketing) buck!'  Just make sure that the recipient can actually purchase something for the value of the gift card without being forced to lay out more funds, as this could be counter-productive.

For more information, give us a call.  We're here to help you!  

The Chef Alliance is the leading organisation of Private & Personal Chefs & Caterers in Canada offering Chefs a place to locate jobs, meet new clients, grow their business, benefit from peer support, discounts to lower their business costs, marketing services & much more.  This allows Chefs concentrate on what they do best - cook great food!