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Problem- can´t figure out what to get my staff or my great customers. Am I obliged to give gifts to everyone? What do you do?
Confused about Santa in Salem
I never met a chef who didn’t love a Maserati. That being said, I once gave a chef a very used Mercedes Benz as a gift one Christmas. I knew he was having transportation problems and figured the car would get him to work without hassles. It was a very nice, older Mercedes. I was buying a newer model and thought it would be the perfect gift for a struggling chef. Little did I know when Minnetonka, Minnesota insurance agent, Reynolds Fisher sold it to me that diesels run poorly in cold climates. The chef was late more often with that car than ever before, and I couldn’t say a thing. Be careful of the gifts you give.
But if you are confused, join the club. The gift giving confusion is probably as old as restaurants themselves. There are different thoughts on what if anything to give. The first thing you have to decide are you giving because you want to, have to, or feel as though it is a reward for a great job throughout the year? Depending on which reason you decide upon, the gifts will differ. Here are a few guidelines to consider.
Performance bonuses have little to do with a Christmas gift. If you have a corporate bonus program, it is always nice to receive the bonus before Christmas and many recipients will look at the bonus as a "Christmas bonus" which is fine, until next year´s performance doesn´t warrant a bonus and then they think you didn´t give out "Christmas Bonuses." This is a very slippery slope to explore and if you do offer performance bonuses make sure, the procedure is outlined in your company´s employee manual.
Staff Christmas gifts are wonderful. Depending on the size of you, company the cost of giving everyone a gift could escalate to enormous proportions. A company party, paid for by the company, off premise, is a wonderful holiday gesture. Often, these can be scheduled between Christmas and New Year´s to get around the hectic schedule of everyone, or, they can be held after the New Year. A great gift for you employees, one that everyone certainly seems to be using is a coffee gift card to a local coffee shop. It beats the slender envelope of money, the confusion about size or color, and alleviates other confusions associated with gift giving. Assuming most of your staff members are always on the go a gift card is perfect. I am sure someone who owned a restaurant invented it.
Another interesting way to gift someone is the reciprocal trade with other restaurants. Every owner faces the same dilemma. Think about doing a gift certificate trade with some of your fellow restaurateurs- trade certificates so they give your certificates to their staff and you give theirs to yours. It´s a reasonable way to buy gifts and it´s also a great way to be able to share a gift with a spouse, friend, or significant other.
The gift exchange is also another way to resolve the problem and it is becoming more popular with many companies. The gift exchange is simple- place a value limit on the gift, everyone trades names and buys the other person a gift.
Customer gifts. This is a choice of personal preference and should only be done if you have become friends with the customer outside of your establishment. To give customer´s gifts often opens up a box of problems. Who gets the gifts? Why did this customer get a gift and that one didn´t? What happens when Mrs. Delilio asks Mrs. Johnson what she received from the greatest restaurant owner in the world and she says "nothing"? If you want to give customer gifts do it as a promotion when everyone on your mailing list receives something or send over a bottle of wine, a round of drinks or a complimentary appetizer or dessert for the holidays. If you have become friends with some customers, gift giving then falls into a personal situation and shouldn´t be confused with your restaurant.
Investors definitely belong on the gift-giving list. Don´t forget the investors. These are your partners and a personal gift from you, not the company, should show up at their door during the holidays.
Remember gift-giving fun is reciprocal. It should be as much fun to give, as it is to receive. Use that as a guideline and your staff should be very merry this Christmas.