By Michael Alter, President, SurePayroll
Telling clients you appreciate them goes a long way in building loyalty. For less than $2 per client, you can also give a unique and affordable gift. Follow these gift-giving tips for the holidays or during busy season and make all of your client meetings a little more rewarding.
Act now! Thinking about a gift for your clients may not rank high on your priority list, but don’t wait on this one. Carve out a few minutes to plan ahead and order a gift. Take into consideration the life cycle of the gift, branding, lead time on the order, and order quantities.
Team up with a local business. Supporting a local business is good for the local economy and builds goodwill between your business and theirs. Call and connect with a local business owner or manager to discuss mutually beneficial gift ideas. Get creative and work with any local business that’s interested in teaming up for the season.
Give the gift and make the client feel appreciated. Resist the temptation to devalue the gift by not telling the client it’s given as a gesture of your appreciation for his or her business. Giving the gift at the start of the client meeting will set the tone for a better meeting. Practice what you’ll say ahead of time. For example, “Before we get started, I want to take this opportunity to thank you and tell you that we appreciate your business. I have a coupon for you for a free dessert from Restaurant XYZ.”
Consumable or non-consumable? While consumable items, such as chocolates, gift cards, or coupons for local restaurants, do have a limited shelf life, they’re often appreciated. Non-consumable items typically have a longer shelf life and can be branded or not branded, depending on your preference. Gifting a client with a non-consumable item that’s not typically part of a regular business routine (e.g., a rubber band rocket or a light-up gadget) may result in the item being discarded rather than used, so take that into consideration.
Branding and ordering. Adding your logo, website, and Facebook page address to a gift item is good for branding and to build followership, but it’s not always necessary. When ordering items with your branding, factor in:
- Large-quantity orders typically mean a lower price per item.
- A typical minimum lead time of two to four weeks per order.
- Shipping and handling fees.
- Setup fees to print your logo on an item; typically $50–$75.
- Shipping delays from the supplier if the item is on backorder.
Looking for ideas for local business coupons?
- Single (boxed or bagged) truffle or gourmet chocolate.
- Coupon for cup of coffee at a local coffee shop.
- Coupon for free or discounted dessert or appetizer.
- Vehicle service station add-ons (e.g., free tire rotation with oil change, windshield wiper replacement with new tire purchase – get creative!).
Unique branded consumable gift ideas:
- Hershey’s® Chocolate Bar
- Bottled water
- Mint and toothpick pack
- Lip balm
- Hand sanitizer
- Mobile phone holder
- Business card holder
- Grip-It Luggage Identifier
- Letter opener
- Glasses or screen cleaner
Read more articles by Michael Alter.
About the author:
Michael Alter, payroll expert with an MBA from Harvard Business School, is a nationally recognized spokesperson providing thought leadership and sensible advice to help accounting and payroll professionals build deeper more profitable relationships with clients. Alter, president of SurePayroll, writes the Trade Secrets column on INC.com and is frequently published in Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine.
Dec 2nd 2013