Promoting Gift Card Sales

Did you know that 30% of all gift cards purchases in restaurants go unredeemed?

We make a big deal of promoting gift card sales each and every year and each and every year our gift card sales go up. First, set a goal. It can be $5000, $10,000 or whatever you think makes sense. Do not set your goal too low!

Task List

  • Take inventory of gift cards, envelopes and card holders.
  • Set the dates – November 23-December 31.
  • You need POS for gift cards to include table tents, check presenters, danglers from the ceiling and/or lobby posters.
  • Decide on a guest incentive – it could be:
    • buy $100 and get $20 bonus card
    • buy $100 for $80
  • Develop a server/manager incentive and contest – use the LET’S SELL GIFT CARDS tracking sheet posted in the employee area.
    • First one to $500 gets $50 cash or anything you feel is appropriate.
    • First one to $1000 gets another $50 certificate.
  • Promote gift card sales on your social media weekly.
  • Coach staff per shift to reach their goals.
    • Maybe offer extra incentive one day per week. Anyone who sells $200 today gets $50. Pay the cash out at the end of shift.
    • Sometimes I’ve used an incentive with the guest that if they buy a card now, I’ll take 10% off of their bill. It works!

The end result is that staff will be excited which makes the guest excited. The service is better and the staff will sell more food and beverage at the table and the guest has a better time and everyone is happy.

Contact Restaurant Group

If you need a bit of coaching and encouragement call me and I can come to your business and help you. This is a really good promotion and you need to do it.

For more information or questions, please contact Arnold Shain at or by phone at 206.679.1037.

Set Objectives and Show Pathways


Stop doing what you have been doing because if you don’t stop then nothing will improve. Guaranteed!

As a follow up to my newsletter last month, I have been doing some serious implementation of my theories. I continue to pursue my course of action because, in the longer run, I feel this approach will prevail.

Basically, we have been coaching and encouraging ownership and executive management to set objectives with their key people who want to earn more and to show them the pathway so in fact, this is able to happen.

I will use the Sous chef as an example. I do this because people in this position always want to earn more and they want a pathway for a better, more lucrative career. Assume they are making $16 to $20+ per hour. If you look at working 40 hours per week this is $41,600 per year. Not bad, but hardly enough of a salary to buy a home, acquire a new car, buy new furniture, etc.

So as an owner, how can I provide a pathway for them to $50,000 per year or even more? We are still in the test phase, but we are working with a number of clients with their Sous chefs or staff members who want to be sous chefs. Here are some key questions we pose to these valuable people:

  • How about if you help the company move the food cost from 32% to 30%? Or maybe to 28%?
  • How about if you help the company decrease the kitchen labor from 17% to 14% of sales through some efficiencies you devise?
  • How about if you help the company move the sales upwards by providing some interesting specials that coincide with the Brand thereby making the brand stronger?
  • How about working with the front of the house team so they are more knowledgeable about the food so they are more comfortable upselling the product and increasing the guest check average? And by the way, this will also increase the service levels as well which should enhance repeat business and guest loyalty as well as build the brand.
  • As the Sous chef, you have the responsibility for ensuring your kitchen team members are well trained. Are you working on this in tandem with the chef?
  • How is the maintenance of the cleaning and maintenance program in the kitchen? What is your contribution to ensuring it is A-1?

I think you get the picture of where I am going in this dialogue. The lesson is this: If you enhance people’s responsibility and give them pathways to grow so they can earn more money because the business will flourish and will have the capability to pay more.

Ownership, managers, etc. must provide an opportunity for their people to grow and earn more. Are we doing this or are we just talking about it without putting an action plan together and implementing it? And following up on it?

We believe in weekly management meetings for key staff members to disseminate info on results compared to the plan. During the next seven days until the next meeting as an owner, general manager or chef, you should be coaching, training, following up, and encouraging these people who “want to make more money.”

Are you doing this or are you complaining, whining or wanting to move out of Seattle to another city with your business? Mostly what I hear is the complaining and not the encouragement and coaching. I do a fair amount of coaching of ownership and key management people so they can get on top of their game to move the business upwards. Patience and action are required on everyone’s part!

Contact Restaurant Group

For more information or questions, please contact Arnold Shain at or by phone at 206.679.1037.

Are you having a hard time hiring? Here is what you can do!


Firstly, we all know turnover is expensive.

Secondly, most of what we see with independent operators (non-large chains) is that the orientation, training and follow up are “not as diligent as each one of these items ought to be.”

Why, you ask?

  1. Because you are desperate for new people-You don’t have enough staff in the first place.
  2. Because you are not prepared for bringing on the new people-Training programs are not laid out in a succinct manner.
  3. Because you may have not “trained the trainers” adequately/thoroughly.
  4. Because you are not following up with the trained new employee as well as you could.
  5. Because you initiate training at an inappropriate time of the week or day.
  6. Because you did not do a thorough orientation.

And these are why many restaurants lose lots of newly hired employees during their first several weeks of employment. This can be avoided.

Since turnover is expensive, it can be disruptive to operations and make the job of managing a restaurant even more of a challenge than it already is.

Take Better Care of Team Members

Here are five proven ways to take better care of your new team members so less of them leave during those critical first two weeks:

  1. For clarity’s sake, each new employee should have a job description and a training manual. Good people want to work for good companies that have their act together and are serious about what they do. Make a good impression with these people showing them you are well organized and professional. Have well-crafted, professional forms, training manuals and handbooks.
  2. Every employee should have a thorough orientation and should be walked through the employee manual and training guide carefully and slowly.
  3. Have a written outline of the training plan for each new hire. This shows you are thorough and you actually do have a plan for getting them familiar with your operation and how they will be trained. This will show the new hire and the trainer that you truly care about their success and that you anticipate them becoming a contributor to the team.
  4. Don’t start a new employee on a busy day. They will be overwhelmed, the training will be sub-standard and it will feel unorganized and chaotic. Many new employees after going through this just won’t return the next day.
  5. Also, don’t start them at the beginning of a shift. Too much going on at this time. Start them at a slower part of the day where you can give them the appropriate attention required.

You want to make a great first impression with your new hire(s). Having a well thought out system that is thorough and complete will make the person feel excited and good about their selection to work for you. They will be happier, more productive and a contributor to the team.

Contact Us

For more information about creating “better” training programs, please contact Arnold Shain at or by phone at 206.679.1037.

QQ Taiwanese Bites – Seattle

QQ Taiwanese Bites
(sister restaurant of Facing East)
Denny Triangle
Seattle, WA

Inspired by the success of Facing East in Bellevue ownership desired to do a quick serve, grab ‘n go version of Facing East where most-all of the items are prepared in the commissary kitchen.

We assisted in the design & construction, hiring & training, set up the bookkeeping systems and followed up on the day to day operations.

Visit Website

Building your Brand


Build Brand Identity and Build Sales

Over the last several years restaurants have called upon me to (1) Build Brand Identity and (2) Build Sales. I’d like to cite several examples below that discuss (a) what I did, (b) how I did it and (c) the results:

1. Happy Hour

Here is a sample of a unique happy hour: We developed a Happy Hour with over 40 food items with a full range of items from the dinner menu. We also have specialty drinks. The hours to serve the happy hour menu is selected carefully. Believe it or not, Happy Hour sales are in excess of 50% of the total sales in a restaurant doing significant sales.

So the ingredients in this program are (1) price, (2) selection, (3) quality, and (4) promotion. For promotional efforts we put a “bug” on the home page of the website that goes right to the menu, we distribute neighborhood flyers monthly, post interior signage and work the social media.

Call me to create your own significant Happy Hour with these ideas.

2. Dinner

The theme of your restaurant exists-let’s just leave it. So, what we did was to create a “theme within a theme.” To promote we use social media, the website and the biggest boon to increasing the sales has been the service staff. They are fully engaged for the obvious reason of enhanced guest check average.

As a result, what we have seen happen is that the level of service has been improving because of giving the staff the vehicle to have more engagement with the guest to discuss higher end products. Notable their dinner sales have increased double digits since inception.

Call me to create your own significant dinner menu with the idea of having a “restaurant within a restaurant.”

3. Brunch

Brunch is already popular. So how do you get separated from other restaurant brunch offerings? Create a situation that is putting you as an expert in a particular category. Here is what happened: What is the most popular brunch item? Eggs Benedict. So let us keep your existing menu but create a section featuring a vast selection of Eggs Benedict (7).

They make a big deal of it by stating how they make their own hollandaise sauce and have country potatoes and have cage free eggs and specialty English muffins. The section of the menu is highlighted right in the middle of the menu. I suggest you highlight this area in a different color so it stands out from everything else.

Once again, the Benedicts are going to (1) enhance sales via raising the guest check average which (2) causes service staff to be more engaged which causes a better/best guest experience. You become known as the “expert in Eggs Benedict” vs just another brunch place. Incidentally, they probably have one of the largest brunches in the city.

Call me to create your own significant brunch menu with the idea of having this being a more memorable section on your menu.

I am advising clients to become more and more specific and unique in their approach to building their business. “Simple” adjustments like previously mentioned can bring you both brand building and financial rewards. It is a competitive market out there and there is no slowdown of new restaurants so one needs to be more engaged in brand building in order to maintain their position in the marketplace.

Call Arnold for us to work with you to enhance your brand at 206-679-1037.