Volume 42, Issue 11 - November 2007

Buyerís Block

íTis the Season
Time to Consider Why and What We Give  
by Paul Bieber
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a Joyous Kwanzaa. Wait a minuteÖis this an article about saving money in the glass industry or a Hallmark holiday greeting?

At the holiday season, the most important group to you is your employees. An old saying, but still true today; take care of your employees, and the employees will take care of business. Many surveys say people appreciate a gift more than money. This is true of a birthday present, but at holiday season, nothing works better than cash. 

The best program is to have bonuses related to each individualís contribution to the company. If you are not doing this now, it is too late to start this year. For next year, announce that you will be giving 2008 holiday gifts based on performance. If you donít have a valid employee review program in place, now is the time to start one. This is the biggest single program that will help any company, in any field. (Iíve written a couple of blogs about this and will be glad to share them with you. Drop me a note at paulbaseball@msn.com for reprints.) Remember, gifts over $25.00 are taxable income. Donít give cash to your employees. It leads them to think that you have unreported cash around the company. They may groan at having to pay taxes on a gift, but it is the right way to go. 

Sharing the Joy 
Your vendors should know your holiday policy, that all gifts are reported to you prior to being given to a specific employee. Let your vendors know that no gift will change your buying habits, as you buy based on service, quality and price. If a vendor wants to give a gift, it should be something for the whole companyóa catered lunch, for instance. If a fruit basket is delivered, open it for everyone to share, either company-wide, or in a specific department. 

If you receive a gift card to a restaurant, give it to a deserving person at your firm telling him or her who gave it to you, and why you are glad to share it. If you are going to take a gift home, donít ask a worker to carry it to your car. Take it yourself after hours. If you know a vendor is sending a large or valuable gift and you feel obligated to take it, have it shipped to your home. Do not allow a salesperson to walk in with a bottle of anything and encourage people to test it out while he is there. 

Making it Personal 
How about your customers? Many shop owners think they are obligated to give good customers a gift. Let me be the first to tell you: STOP. Most gifts end up re-gifted to the customerís employees. 

Bottles of wine or whiskey are the most common gifts. If a customer needs that bottle from you, nothing else is holding your relationship together. Moreover, the first competitor to give a larger bottle will get their business. If you do want to give a gift, make it personal. For your customer who is a sports fan, give a gift with their favorite teamís logo on it, or a gift certificate to the team store, or even tickets to an upcoming game. How about a DVD of a movie that you liked along with a personal note from you why you liked this movie?

 My favorite business gift is a donation to a charity in honor of a person or a company. If you know that your customer has a favorite cause, then donate to it. Every cause should send a note to the honoree describing your gift, no matter the amount you give. Itís better to give your money to a good cause rather than the local liquor store or florist. Also, look to local causes, like Habitat for Humanity or Make-A-Wish. 

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including nine years with C.R. Laurence Co. Inc., and 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. Mr. Bieberís opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine.

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