10-Dec-2012 17:46

Where’s my Corporate Prezzie?

I’ve been running my own businesses since the early 80’s and there have been many quite remarkable advances in that time.

From wonderful new technologies to the way we interact socially in business and from office computerisation to the newer methods to promote our goods, products and services to our receptive markets.

Most innovations have been effective, efficient and valuable & businesses have benefitted immensely.

However, there’s one area which I feel has sharply declined; namely the ‘Corporate Gift market’…

Around this time of year I used to receive (and give) Hampers, Fine Wines, single Malts & other fine bottles of assorted booze, Smoked Salmon & smooth Belgian Choccies & in one memorable episode, a spanking new colour TV...

Sadly no more!

Showering gifts upon important clients & in return receiving generous presents (bribes) from supportive suppliers was the expected norm…

In fairness, we’re not totally neglected, as we do seem to receive our fair share of traditional cards & e-card and humorous emails clogging up our commercial inboxes, but it’s not really the same as receiving, unannounced, a client’s wrapped peace-offering or a case of decent plonk to celebrate the end of another year…

So, why this attitude change?

Is it a sign of our economic times & simple austerity & belt-tightening; is it lethargy or is a lack of loyalty in 2012/13 now prevalent? Does it impact upon client relations?

Personally, I feel no obligation to desk-display all the cards received; only to be slung out as soon as possible in the New Year…

…But I do actually quite miss the thrill of receiving a small (or hopefully large) ‘Thank-You’ token of appreciation from a business colleague or supplier.

Don’t you?

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Contributed by Norman Feiner on 11-Dec-2012 13:15
Good story - well done indeed.
Contributed by Steve Hall on 11-Dec-2012 01:24
I remember a particularly obnoxious customer in Manchester. Appalling payer, aggressive attitude to all my staff but he spent almost 5000 GBP with me 20 years ago on the PROMISE of a bottle of Scotch.....AND I won a bet with one of my staff. I arrived unannounced at his office determined to get Sept/Oct invoices paid. I knew that chasing by phone would get my girls nowhere and we'd be chasing again in the New Year.

The battle-axe receptionist said, "Mr Jones only sees reps by appointment." I explained that I was not a rep but an appreciative supplier looking to lavish Seasons Wishes on his most valued customers and nodded knowingly at the litre of single malt I had demonstrably put on her reception desk. She picked up the phone again and obviously whispered something to the owner to the effect that he'd got a pressie. Surprise, surprise he trotted out a few minutes later and shook my hand with great largesse. Sorry my friend, I'm from Yorksire you get "nowt fa´nowt", I thought. He clearly expected me to offer him the bottle and be done with me. Sorry, my friend, you will have to sing (=sign) for your supper. I said, "I wonder if we might go into your office" as I patted my chest as if to say that there were other goodies and that I realised he would not want that conversation in public. "Er, er, oh, mmm, yes, sorry. Yes, please do come through. Would you like a coffee?" Deal done, I smirked to myself.

I walked into his office with the whiskey still in my grasp. We talked platitudes and as the coffee came I mentioned how long he'd been a client and I'd like to thank him for his continued support etc. Table-tennis back, "Yes, thanks for your excellent service. It's been a really rough 3/4 years but we are through it and last week I sold the company to xxx. (A well known PLC who I'd dealt with for years....who were worse payers than this guy and whose buyer had about as much chance of a bottle from me as Arsenal have of playing entertaining football).

"Oh wow, well congratulations. I know xyz very well and they have a dozen copiers and at least that number of fax machines. (..and are all under-speced and shagged to death. You must be so glad to be a part of a company who always buys on price and who haven't got a piece of office equipment that I'd recommend, I thought)

"Wow, great news. You will now be eligible for our major accounts programme which will offer you valuable discounts on all your future purchases." He kind of warmed up at this stage and basically told me he wanted a "deal". Mmmm I buy his old machine from him cash. I lease him a new machine and load the price to increase the (cash)part-exchange. Not wishing to be a saint in a world of sinners, I readily agreed and suggested I could even roll-in his unpaid invoices too if it helped him in any way. Bingo! Way to go!I said I'd not normally be able to help (hmmm!) but I had just sold some machines for cash and could have 1500 gbp in his hands within the hour. Kerrrrching. Lease signed on the spot, cleared by the finance house by the time I got back to the office, cash drawn out of the bank and a machine that had been in our showroom since Adam was a lad was loaded into an engineer's van. Two hours' later, I am demming the machine to his aggressive receptionist who told me a dozen times that it was HER job to elect office-equipment. Safe in the knowledge that I had a signed lease and the guy had a fat envelope I said that she had lost that responsibility this time and when the stupid machine broke down nobody would be able to moan at her. She smiled. (There is a god!)

Merry Christmas, Stephen! Nice little present.

(Two amusing side-notes (a) in the "excitement" I forgot to give him his whiskey! (b) the part exchange machine was sold within hours for cash for at least twice what I wanted for it to a company who wanted a back-up machine! That one bottle of whiskey sure made my Christmas. I remember toasting him and the PLC from an expensive restaurant in Tenerife.)
Contributed by Ken Somerville on 10-Dec-2012 21:57
Hi Norman,
I understand what you are saying, but in the same breath, have you been sending out the thank you bottles, etc. If you give then you get, if you don't give, then you will not get. lol

Just a point.
Contributed by Norman Feiner on 10-Dec-2012 21:31
Excellent - looking forward... N
Contributed by Suzan St Maur on 10-Dec-2012 19:55
I hear what you say, Norman ... I usually send clients and colleagues an eBook of my latest jokes at this time of the year ... low-cost, but usually well appreciated! (And yes, you're on my list...)
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