Merchants realize the benefit of gift certificates. They allow you to collect the revenue up front and provide the merchandise or service later. But the administration behind starting your own program and tracking it can be a real pain.

There is a better option out there.

Some communities offer what’s called currency programs. You might know them as “local bucks” or your city’s dollars. Sometimes the programs are organized by the local chamber or main street organization but they can also be part of a neighborhood coalition of like-minded businesses looking for a way to draw people to spend more money with them.

Since the organization behind this type of gift check or card can take more time than a small business owner has, there are companies that can help you put together a program with all of the benefits and none of the headache.

But how do you recognize a good one?


5 Ways to Recognize a Good Local Currency Program

  1. Purchases can be made electronically. Many local currency programs operate as a gift check. These checks need to be purchased at a business or chamber of commerce during regular business hours. This is terribly hard for many people. Instead, or in addition to in-person purchases, look for a program that allows you to purchase local currency online and have them sent electronically to you or your recipient.
  2. Local currency can be used at a number of different businesses. If you’re a merchant you may not care about how many participating merchants there are but the larger the program, the more sales will be made, which is good for everyone. Consider the fact that someone may buy one intending to use it at one business and then look at a list of participants and decide to give you a try instead. Participating in a local currency program is a good way to expand your business.
  3. The administration is handled for you. Let someone else track the payouts for you. Save yourself the hassle.
  4. It can be incorporated into a merchant’s POS system. While you want someone to handle the administration, you want the record keeping on your end to be easy as well. A currency program that works with your POS is ideal.
  5. Payment is done easily and on time. With local currency, you are generally reimbursed/paid for the currency spent at your business. Some programs have a company administrator and a local one. So there might be a company that handles the local currency program and then the chamber or neighborhood group that handles reimbursement. Before joining the program, find out how payment is done. Does the local group hold onto its own money or do they have to wait to get it from the other company? Every touch is a potential lag so understand the process before signing.

Whether you’re a local merchant considering joining a currency program or you’re a chamber or neighborhood organization interested in instituting one, it’s important you understand what makes a strong program and what should give you pause. Do your research and sign on with a company that has a good reputation and offers the things that make a successful program.

Finally, always look for a company that has a good reputation among its users. View ours here.