January 17, 2012

Cover Story

Gary L. Crocker

Gary L. Crocker doesn’t gripe about his days as a broke, Harvard Business Sch...Read More

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Season of Appreciation

Say a Heartfelt “Thank You” to Clients and Employees

Heather L. King

January 17, 2012

With another holiday season upon us, corporate gift giving is in full swing. Regardless of how 2010 treated your particular industry, it’s likely that the budget still includes holiday gifts for clients and possibly employees as well. But some etiquette considerations should be kept in mind as purchases are made. Generally, businesses should only give gifts to current clients—those they are doing business with regularly. The holiday season is not the time to try to win new clients with an elaborate gift, as it will give the impression the company is buying the favor of future business. But perhaps the most important (and easiest) aspect to remember when determining a corporate gift-giving strategy is that your gift should be a genuine “thank you” to your clients, customers and employees for the work you’ve done together over the past year. To Logo or No? This brings to mind logo items. Many companies give logo-emblazoned items at events, such as golf tournaments, throughout the year. During the holidays, keep the company logo to a minimum so that the focus of the gift is on the receiver instead of the giver. Your gift should not be used as an advertisement for your company. You can still make a statement about who the gift is from on the packaging, with a gift basket hangtag or with a card that can be placed next to your gift for recognition in the receiver’s office. Picking the Right Gift Selecting just the right gift can be a tricky task. Basic considerations include the budget and the current state of relationship with the client. Some companies will have a tiered gift-giving list where their top clients receive one gift, the next level of clients receive a less expensive gift and so on. The nature of your business will often dictate whether a company-wide gift is appropriate or if individual relationships should be focused on. Sometimes, both are appropriate. Gifts to charitable organizations, such as the Utah Food Bank, Christmas Box International, illness and research-related entities and many others that are made in the name of your client, are an excellent way to show appreciation and give back to the community. Such gifts also alleviate any potential hassles regarding gift-giving policies in place at government agencies or other human resource rules that could make accepting a gift uncomfortable or even illegal for employees. But if a physical gift is what your company has in mind, many companies opt for custom-designed packages that not only reflect the giver but the receiver as well. Lindsay Vieta-Vest, owner of TriFecTa, a full-service floral, gift and event-planning studio located in Sugarhouse, explains that companies are looking for “an experience for their clients to remember them by, not just the same old rank-and-file stuff. Our clients are looking for something unique, beyond the average fruit basket. Trends seem to be leaning more toward quality than quantity, toward something long lasting or local, something with a story or something that can be re-used.” Food is almost always a universally appreciated and safe gift when it comes to any corporate relationships. The items are usually shared and enjoyed by the entire company. And the recipients aren’t left with any lingering concerns that you spent too much money when they receive food-related items. Consumable gifts, however, can still be unique and extraordinary: TriFecTa offers a “Local’s Only” gift box that includes items from Beehive Cheese, Chocolat and Crumb Brothers Bakery, to name a few. Don’t Go Cheap Given the economy of late, receivers will likely understand if holiday gifts aren’t what they have been in the past. TriFecTa’s clients have taken this to heart. Vieta-Vest explains, “Demonstrating that wonderful things really do come in small packages, clients are sending flowers in small, hand-painted porcelain vases that hold a single striking blossom and come packaged in their own muslin box. For companies that have a lot of gifts to give, it’s economical yet has the wow factor.” That being said, giving a cheap gift that is poorly made or appears tacky is worse than giving nothing at all. If gifts are simply not in the budget this year, design a holiday card that shows genuine gratitude for supporting the company throughout the year. When it comes to choosing the right gift, let gratitude be your guide. Clients will appreciate the time and effort that goes into a handwritten note or personal delivery as much as the gift that you leave behind, so this holiday season make the most of your relationships by planning ahead and giving a gift with meaning. Sidebar: Made in Utah Local gifts are a wonderful way to thank your clients and employees while also supporting our neighbors and friends. Here are just a few local companies that offer quality products in all varieties and price ranges. Western Nuts (Salt Lake City) Specializing in corporate gifts, wrapped gifts, gift baskets and other custom-designed food items. www.westernut.com Frank Granato’s Importing (Salt Lake City) Gift baskets containing Italian delicacies can be made to suit any taste and budget. www.granatos.com Cox Honeyland of Utah (Logan) Honey, beeswax candles, candy and more can all be combined into various gift baskets. www.coxhoney.com Lehi Roller Mills (Lehi) Breakfast and dessert dry mixes available in individual packages or gift baskets. www.lehirollermill.com Vida Tequila (Park City) The Blanco variety is available in all Utah liquor stores. The Reposado and Anejo varieties can be special ordered. www.vidatequila.com
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