CHRISTMAS is the season for celebration, joy and gifts. Giving gifts to your friends and relatives is normal and traditional. However, there are issues when the relationship is business based, and there is a concern of conflict of interest when the fine line is crossed between a gift and a bribe.
Different companies may have different rules on accepting tokens or gifts, some do not allow it, others put in a limit to the monetary amount equivalent, while others may require full disclosure and approval.
Amongst the employees and executives who are most likely to receive the best “gifts” are those that can approve or facilitate the awarding of a contract, granting a loan, providing preferential treatment, releasing a permit or making a payment.
In most questionable situations, the “gifts” are not even sent to the office of the recipient but delivered directly to the home. Corporations are able to protect themselves from this anomaly through auditing documents, doing lifestyle checks and making background investigations.
Looking at the more legitimate side of corporate gifts, it allows companies to promote their products and provide a token of appreciation to their clients. Typically, these gifts would have the name and logo of the company and comes in all types, quality and price range, depending on how important the customer is to the company.
Sometimes, the customer could even request what he wants for his gift. Number one on my list is the planner that has a weekly spread with each column representing the day and within the column is the hourly space where you can write your appointments.
This way I can see what is happening during the week in one go. I have been doing this for more than 30 years and it is easy enough to keep the planners for each year. For this year I have to thank the RCBC Wealth Management for giving me exactly what I wanted. A variant of this is the notebook, which I guess would be more flexible but nowhere near as useful for my intended purpose.
I have also received personalized gifts such as pens, bags and the like with my name engraved or embroidered on the item. It is a very classy and makes the customer feel important. I particularly like pens with my name on it. I have received ball pens ranging from Parker, Cross all the way to Montblanc. Of course to bring it a notch higher, instead of a ball pen, a personalized fountain pen would truly set it apart.
Another common giveaway is a collared sports shirt that many people like. Even I use our own company’s sports shirt in playing golf with a matching golf cap. We spend more to have a better quality shirt so that it will be worn by even our more affluent customers and friends.
The exposure we get from people wearing our shirts in the most exclusive golf courses is worth it. We also make sure we have it in different sizes so that it fits better and make it nicer to wear.
Of course there are so many other corporate gifts available such as umbrellas, face towels, calendars, key chains, and so on. However, to some of our best customers and friends, the best gift that they look forward to being invited is our Christmas party where they are given VIP seats, enjoy the program, food and drinks, but most of all to meet and mingle with us while having a good time. I guess nothing beats the old fashioned face to face encounter!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!
The views and comments of Dr. George S. Chua are his own and not of the BusinessMirror or the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex). Chua, 2016 Finex President, is currently a Professorial Lecturer at the University of the Philippines’s Diliman and BGC campuses and an active entrepreneur. Comments may be sent to email@example.com.