9 questions to ask before purchasing a Corporate Gift to save time, embarrassment and hidden costs
Getting the best gift for your budget that will be sure to delight your VIPs …. not to mention your boss! Here’s 9 key questions to ask – some of them might surprise you!
1. How much CAN I spend in total and HAVE I GOT WRITTEN sign-off from the right authority?
- Have you checked your company’s policy on gift giving? There are some industries in Australia, for example in the Financial Services industry, that limit the value of gifts you are able to give to $250. If you don’t know, best find out and save yourself later embarrassment before engaging with any supplier.
- In addition, having formal and written sign-off of your budget in advance can help expedite the process and save you from difficult conversations later where verbally agreed budgets may change. Changing budgets also waste a lot of your time re-negotiating with your supplier and potentially changing what you are able to get.
- Have you got your written sign-off from the right person? If you are ordering large quantities costs can go up quickly and you’ll want to double-check whoever signed off the cost has the right delegation of authority to do so.
2. How many gifts do we really need?
- Sound obvious? Well… from experience, you put in a lot of effort work out exactly how many you need (e.g. 89), only to have the boss come in later and just add a few (read 10) names to the list. Usually when it’s too late to do anything about it! I’d recommend making about a 10% contingency and also make sure this is in your budget! It’s always useful to have a few spare gifts up your sleeve for a rainy day if you have too many. It’ll also put you in the good books with your boss and make you really look like you know what you are talking about!
3. Does MY supplier’s price include delivery? WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN?
- Don’t forget this all-important factor – especially if you have a number of deliveries across many geographies. You will want to think about:-
- Where are deliveries going? Have you been clear about the difference between metro Australia / Regional Australia / International delivery? This will impact cost significantly;
- When was the last time your client database was updated? I recommend checking the names and addresses on there are up to date before you give it out to anyone! It’s amazing how often businesses can change address nowadays;
- Will you or your supplier send the items and under what brand? Will they also track delivery and update you? I highly recommend this, as it saves you a lot of time and hassle, and makes the supplier more responsible for items getting to your clients within an agreed schedule;
- Where is the supplier based? This could significantly impact delivery timescales if they are not local to you;
- Do you want express delivery? Standard delivery? Goods tracked, signed for, insured? I always recommend making room in your budget for express delivery with a reputable supplier as this means all items will be tracked and if there are any problems, the courier is more likely to handle them at no extra charge
- Check with your supplier what exactly is included in the price and if it covers everything you need. Don’t be shy to ask before you buy!
4. HOW DO I DECIDE WHAT TO GIVE?
Sometimes there are so many options it can be mind-boggling. To help narrow them down, think about if you want something specific (e.g. I need 50 pairs of ugg boots for a delegation) or if you are after more general gifts (e.g. I’d like a chocolates and champagne celebration-type hamper). Often coming up with a single theme can help (e.g. it’s for Christmas so I’d like an ‘Australian Christmas hamper’ to be shared in the office). Most companies will be delighted to assist – going in with a straw man will help them to help you get the right fit a lot more effectively and save you time in the long run!
5. SHOULD I GET branded PRODUCTS with our COMPANY logo?
This is a nice touch if done tastefully and discretely. You want to think about this up-front, and make sure if this is the case, you allow extra time for production. Don’t be shy to ask for samples before you buy – quality can vary significantly across suppliers and you want to make sure your brand is well presented.
Usually clients are okay with a very small amount of branding, but won’t want it to form the main design of the product.
If you are in a premium market, this will take careful consideration to do tastefully.
6. What other customisationS COULD I DO THAT WILL MAKE OUR GIFT STAND OUT?
Look for other customisations that will make your gift stand out amongst competitors and feel personal, rather than an ‘off-the-shelf’ gift. Many companies will offer a free personalised gift guide around your theme as well as gift cards with personalised messages. These small things can make a big difference. Ask for samples, or even better, if you are creative, see if you can be part of the design process.
Don’t forget to ask if the cards or guides are professionally printed and exactly what you are getting.
Also – a top tip when doing gift messages – if you are doing more than 50 customised messages from a number of staff in your company; it is a LOT easier and more effective to ensure messages stay on brand if you execute personalised messages in the following way:-
- Come up wtih 1 standard message for all cards
- Agree the message with leadership
- Communicate the message and process to all your staff who will have gifts sent on their behalf
- Ask for customisation on the greeting card ‘from’ and ‘to’ for each person the gift is from (but not on the actual message)
7. Are the items in our gift Australian made? IS IT IMPORTANT?
Studies show that recipients of gifts from Australian companies prefer receiving gifts that are Australian made, and it will strengthen your brand image to show you are supporting fellow Australian companies. To make sure you get Australian made product, look for retailers who are certified with the official ‘Australian Made’ campaign logo.
8. WHAT DATE DO WE need our gifts ‘ON’ or ‘BY’?
Remember, there is a difference with ‘ON’ or ‘BY’ when talking about dates for delivery. From experience, it is usually okay if gifts arrive 1 or 2 days early, but completely embarrassing if gifts arrive late for a special occassion (e.g. after Christmas for a Christmas gift!). It is a lot less stressful for all involved, therefore, if you let your supplier know gifts need to arrive BY a certain date, and it’s okay a few days earlier but not okay if its after this date. Decide what you want and be firm.
…but don’t be cruel!!! Make sure you are not asking the impossible and have allowed enough time for customisation and delivery. As a general guide, for orders under 50 items, 2-3 weeks notice may be enough; for orders of 100 or more, you will likely need to allow 4+ weeks to get the best options for your VIPs delivered on time. This will, of course, depend on what you need (and how many). But never underestimate the time involved in getting bulk orders of what you want out!
9. what type of postage SCHEDULE do we need?
Are some gifts going to rural or remote areas in Australia? Are some gifts being delivered internationally? Select suppliers who are experienced in delivering to areas that match your needs.
After you’ve done your budget, ask if the supplier can create and give you a posting schedule to ensure your gifts arrive with your clients on time and if needed, at the same time! For example, rural / regional Australian gifts should be delivered 2-3 days before metro areas. If you have international deliveries, ask for their delivery timescales.
YOUR FREE 9-POINT CHECKLIST IN SUMMARY
So now you’ve read the detail – here’s the summary for you – I hope this helps!
- Get formal written sign-off of my budget before engaging suppliers
- Ensure contingency in the number of gifts required (10% recommended)
- Make sure it’s clear if the supplier price includes delivery and who is doing this
- Update my database of client names and addresses
- Check where the supplier is based
- Confirm exactly what delivery includes (express, standard, tracking, and insurance)
- Come up with a general theme / idea of what gift we want and choose companies appropriate to this
- Agree if we want branded items as part of the gift and ask for samples – allow enough time!
- Allow estimated 4 weeks for items of over 100
- Agree if we want customised gift guides and personal messages as part of the gift – ask for samples!
- Check if gifts are Australian made (or how important this is – this can often be an indicator of Quality and Freshness)
- Confirm what date ON or BY gifts will be delivered
- Ask my supplier (or make myself) a posting schedule and ask who will track deliveries / what is the process if there are issues
NEED mORE HELP?
Need more help? I’m happy to pass on any tips I’ve learned the hard way that may save you the hassle!
Email me anytime on: firstname.lastname@example.org