A hotly debated topic among personal chefs is the issue of client gifts. Is it necessary to leave a gift? With every service? Only on special occasions? How much should the gift cost? Should the gift be food or another item? As with many other topics of discussion, the client gift is a very personal decision and it is important that each chef make the choice that is right for his or her business. And, it may be that what is right for one client will not work for every client.
Many chefs leave a client gift with every service. I certainly have some clients who receive, and look forward to, their gift with each cook day. While this can be the special something that sets you apart from your competition, I would offer a couple of words of warning. First, you’d better be sure that you actually have a gift at each service, because if your client has come to expect the gift (or if their kids have come to count on those homemade cookies) you are setting them up for disappointment when you have one of those crazy mornings and the client gift gets overlooked. Second, giving a gift with every service locks you into that routine and if you should ever consider changing your policy you are also going to be disappointing some clients.
Perhaps a better option is to give gifts only on special occasions or on randomly selected cook dates. Now, I have to tell you that the questionnaire that I go through with every new client includes information about their special days. However, I know myself well enough to realize that I have enough trouble keeping up with nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays and I don’t want to add the stress of dozens more ‘special dates’ to keep track of. If you happen to be one of those super-organized people who can keep up with dates, how special would it be to receive a little something extra from your personal chef on your birthday or other special day? For me, it works better to give gifts on random cook dates. No stressing over a missed date and my clients get a little something to celebrate on an ordinary day.
Now, I will admit that when I first started my business, every client received a gift with every cook date. Many of those first clients are still with me so they do get gifts with every service. However, I have since changed my philosophy on gifts and have found that those clients who receive gifts on a random basis (perhaps with every 3rd or 4th service) seem to appreciate the gesture more. To them, it is not an expected part of the service, but my way of saying thank you for your business.
Next article with cover ideas for client gifts including some fabulous no cost and very low cost gifts – check back soon!