Give gifts to special customers who don’t waste your time. If you have a regular customer who:
Doesn’t pay you on time;
Is difficult to work with;
Won’t write a review or send referrals your way,
Then don’t bother. Reward customers that:
You’ve known for a long time or give you regular work;
Send referrals and help your business grow;
You enjoy working with.
If you’re being paid a lot for a big, one-time project — a home remodel, for example — think about getting that client a gift too. Even if the client won’t have another project for you anytime soon, they could still refer people to you. A thoughtful gift helps you stay on their radar.
Consumable gifts don’t have to be boring. Food, wine and gift cards can be good gifts because they’re a safe bet. The danger is that they can seem like you didn’t put much thought into it. So make it personal. Pick a favorite snack that your client mentioned in passing. Or a gift card for their particular hobby. The gift should reflect their interests.
Be wary of booze. A nice bottle of wine seems obvious, but it can be tricky. First of all, it really depends on the recipient’s personal taste. Do they like red or white — do they even like wine at all? Also, your client might not even drink for health or religious reasons. So unless you know exactly what they like, tread with caution.
Always add a personal touch. If you’re gifting consumables, write a thoughtful message to accompany the gift. If you’d rather gift something a little more meaningful, consider personalizing it with their name. Again, think about their interests. If they like golf, get monogrammed golf balls. Or if they’re into cooking, an engraved cutting board.
But skip any swag branded with your own logo. Giving a gift is not about advertising. Most people already have coasters, fridge magnets, baseball caps, what have you, anyway. Make the gift about your client, not yourself, or it will seem insincere.
Don’t spend too much without good reason. The dollar amount will depend on how long you’ve known them and how much business they give you. Generally, the norm is $20-$50 per client — and you can deduct up to $25 per business gift per client. Be careful not to make it too high, or it will seem like a bribe. Besides, a smaller, heartfelt gift will win over a flashy, expensive one each time.
When in doubt, just send a card. A handwritten note is always appreciated. And it will remind your customers that you exist, which is ultimately what you want. But remember, “the holidays” means different things to different people. Some celebrate Christmas. Others, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Stick to “Happy holidays” in your messaging so you don’t alienate any of your customers.