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tomcat172002
11-09-2009, 05:31 AM
Hi,

I have a question regarding giving out a Christmas Gift to my customers. A company I used to work for would give out pointsettias as a Christmas to their customers. I thought what a great idea, but last year I ran out of money so I just sent Christmas Cards instead. All of my customers returned the next year. I was thinking about doing it this year I have 20 customers and it would cost me about $200 to $300 dollars to do it. If everyone returned from last year is this and unnecessary expense? What do you guys do or think about it?

Tom

Steve
11-09-2009, 09:55 AM
That is a very good question, it does make you wonder when you are doing too much or not enough.

Part of me feels, the flowers will really stand out. It might get people talking and they might tell their friends, 'oh do you like the flower? my lawn care company gave them to me, aren't they wonderful? Here is their contact information.'

If you can do something that gets your customers talking, then you can really benefit from it.

You could also bake some home made holiday cookies too and give them out in their own cookie tin.

What's your take on all this?

fieroboi
11-09-2009, 11:54 AM
I think that everyone has their limits ... what one company feels would be a small amount to spend on a customer, another company might find that overkill. I think that showing your customers that you care about them is the most important thing to keep in mind.

I believe the real trick is that you KNOW your customers to have a successful campaign.

Lets say you like the idea of the pointsetta and send your customers one, most customers might be very appreciative and sing your praises ... but would you send one to a customer that doesn't celebrate christmas but rather some other faiths traditions. That customer might not be so impressed that you sent them something at christmas.

Lloyd
Blue's YardFX

Steve
11-09-2009, 01:55 PM
I believe the real trick is that you KNOW your customers to have a successful campaign.

In what way do you suggest a lawn care business owner know their customer?

StartALawnCareBusiness
11-09-2009, 02:03 PM
A personalized Christmas card will suffice for most customers.

In some cases, you will find that large gifts are frowned upon by your customers. I used to send gift baskets to the purchasing managers of our larger commercial and government contract clients. The cost of these baskets ran about $75 each. After the second year of doing this, I learned that such gifts can be considered bribes for future work. This is improper for government contracts, especially, and can get your company barred from bidding in subsequent years.

Give wisely:

Keith
Lawn Care Business Guidebook (http://www.startalawncarebusiness.com)

Spyder Graphix
11-09-2009, 08:58 PM
A personalized Christmas card will suffice for most customers.

In some cases, you will find that large gifts are frowned upon by your customers. I used to send gift baskets to the purchasing managers of our larger commercial and government contract clients. The cost of these baskets ran about $75 each. After the second year of doing this, I learned that such gifts can be considered bribes for future work. This is improper for government contracts, especially, and can get your company barred from bidding in subsequent years.

Give wisely:

Keith
Lawn Care Business Guidebook (http://www.startalawncarebusiness.com)

Very good point. I know what we do around xmas time is the wife bakes of a bunch of cookies and such and we put them into a tin and give out to our regular clients and the reat of them get cards and a discount card for thier next invoice.

fieroboi
11-10-2009, 12:16 AM
In what way do you suggest a lawn care business owner know their customer?

I've commented numerous times about taking a small amount of time and chatting to your customers and what I have gained from a quick chat (a referral, a snow blower, winter contract). I also have a very good sense as to many of my clients habits, beliefs, and even their dogs names just from quick short chats. If a customer of mine is a daily patron at the local coffee shop with their buddies, then maybe a gift card for a couple of cups is a great gift .... not to mention that it would stir a bit of conversation when they brag to their buddies that the lawn guy paid for the coffee that day.

Keith brings up a good point about larger commercial accounts and government accounts which I totally agree with, which still reflects that one has to KNOW the client to determine whether a gift is warranted or needed! Would you send a Christmas gift or card to a client that you know is Jewish, Buddist or any other faith that doesn't celebrate Christmas?


Lloyd
Blue's YardFX

Steve
11-10-2009, 10:23 AM
I know what we do around xmas time is the wife bakes of a bunch of cookies and such and we put them into a tin and give out to our regular clients and the reat of them get cards and a discount card for thier next invoice.

It does make you wonder if you are planning on baking some cookies for customers, what % of them should you make them for? Potentially the top 10% of them?

tomcat172002
11-10-2009, 08:20 PM
I really like the input from this thread. I think knowing your customers is important. Last year I retained all of them so I didn't have to spend $400 for gifts. Since all of my accounts are residential I don't have to worry about company policies. This year what I am going to do is look at some of the customers who I just did leafblowing for or Mulch in the spring. I will drop off pointsettias for them. The usual customers I can just send a Christmas card to them. I don't want my customers to expect a Christmas gift from me but I want to keep them happy as well. What do you guys think?

Steve
11-11-2009, 09:38 AM
I like it. I think it's a creative extension of you and your business. You should experiment with all this.

Keep us posted on the feedback you get.

StartALawnCareBusiness
11-11-2009, 01:27 PM
What about customers who give YOU Christmas gifts?

I've always had certain customers who give me Christmas gifts. My gifts range from the lady who gives a tin of caramel popcorn to a few customers (including one commercial account) who gives an additional month's payment on the last scheduled service of the year.

What are the best gifts you've received?

fieroboi
11-11-2009, 02:43 PM
Nothing ventured ... Nothing gained! I believe anything that one does to promote their business is far better than sitting back waiting.

Lloyd
Blue's YardFX

Boomer
11-17-2009, 05:58 PM
I drove public transit for many years and I only got to know people as they entered/exited the bus. I would hand out a small card saying "Merry Christmas and thanks for riding my bus over the past year". Short, sweet and simple. This 99% of the time it was accepted in the way it was given and here we have a huge multicultural population - the 1% negative was surprisingly from white - anglosaxon clients! Go figure.
Politically correct I am not. But people out there are smart and can see past the fakes. Go for it is my motto.

Boomer

jymie
12-20-2009, 01:14 PM
This was our 1st year in business. Overall, it was slow mostly due to the economy and the fact that an old timer and his son was charging $15 per lawn no matter what size it was. He hauls his tractor in the back of a van, no trailer. Unbelievable, he canít be making any profit. Anyways, we had 20 customers, 10 of which were steady weekly paying customers. For Christmas, I made calendars with our company information on it and Christmas cards. I included in the envelope a coupon for $25 off any purchase of $200 or more. I also put in the envelope, referral cards to give them $25 gift card for anyone they refer that signs up with our service next year, also a survey card so they could evaluate our work.

The other day, I saw an old man drop a set of keys outside his car and he didn't notice it, so I picked up the keys and followed him until I could get his attention, when I gave his keys to him, I noticed that he was intensely looking at my sign on the side of the car so I gave him our card. Who knows if it turns into business or not but you never know!

picframer
12-20-2009, 02:12 PM
Send everyone at least a card, getting late but I gave my top five clients a Christmas Plant hand delivered and I made sure they were home, top client does not mean $$$ only it is also referrals, I have one client that only gave us around $500.00 worth of business and about $40,000 in referrals, I bought him a bottle of his favorite rum.

I also have favorite clients and I think we all do, I might give them a box of chocolate or something I know they might appreciate, buddy it really pays dividends, I received a few presents from clients and boy did it make me feel good!

Andy

Steve
12-21-2009, 04:48 AM
Do you think there should be a maximum % of customers who are given gifts or even cards? Like the top 5% or 10%? Or should this be more by gut feeling?

picframer
12-21-2009, 07:25 AM
Do you think there should be a maximum % of customers who are given gifts or even cards? Like the top 5% or 10%? Or should this be more by gut feeling?

Using a percentage could be expensive, I just chose certain clients and bought them each something I thought they would appreciate and then made sure everyone received a card. We all know our clients, I would vote for gut feel.