At ShopKeep, we have the pleasure of working with thousands of successful business owners across the country every day. Because our customers are merchants who understand that small businesses succeed by gathering data and using it intelligently to make decisions, it’s an important mission of ours to feature some of our successful customers and present their stories as inspiration and a blueprint for others.

Today, we shine the light on Daniel and Tamara Sloan, owners of The Mill Coffee & Tea in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Mill is more than just your average coffee shop; it’s an old staple in Lincoln that began in 1975. After several iterations, from changes to its business model, to new locations and new ownership, it is now in the worthy hands of its current owners, and flourishing more than ever.

Daniel Sloan first experienced The Mill as an accounting student who helped out with their books back in 1978. As he climbed the ranks in the accounting profession, earning his CPA and holding various positions, he continued to do some tax work for The Mill on the side. In 1991, he decided to leave the corporate work behind and take ownership of the business, a decision that he’s glad he made. He’s since grown the business to two coffee shop locations and another site dedicated to wholesale. As they achieved this growth, they turned to cloud-based technology like ShopKeep to help manage the many moving parts. In addition, ShopKeep has helped them identify the true drivers of their business. One such driver that they’ve taken advantage of is gift cards.

The Underappreciated Impact of Gift Cards

Though many small businesses offer gift cards to their customers, it’s often as an afterthought, and rarely considered as a significant sales ignitor. With ongoing review of their ShopKeep reports though, Tamara Sloan has found that gift cards are huge for The Mill.

“We accept both cash and cards and I’d say the split is about 50/50, but gift cards make up a major portion of our card sales”, says Tamara. “On any given day, gift card sales make up about 15-20% of our total sales for the day.”

That’s a percentage of sales that demands to be appreciated.

The Mill had been offering gift cards for several years, but the switch to ShopKeep’s integrated solution has proven to be a huge difference-maker for them. For one, it simplifies the process of ringing up cards, allowing everything to happen in a single point of sale system. Additionally, it allows for better tracking and reporting. “Since we started using ShopKeep Gift Cards, it’s been fabulous. I love that we can swipe and get good reporting all from one system,” says Tamara. Not only have they increased their sales from gift cards, but they’ve also reduced the cost of offering them.

“Our previous gift card company was charging us per transaction, even to check balances,” she says, “so it became very expensive for us since we do so many of these transactions. ShopKeep’s pricing makes things so much more affordable for us, especially with our high volume of cards.”

Tamara has already discovered the value of gift cards and has found interesting ways to encourage her customers to use them everyday. Perhaps many other small businesses should take heed and do the same to help grow their business and create loyal customers.

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About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.