7 Mistakes You Make With Closing Gifts

This great article was sent to me by a friend. It is SPOT ON when it comes to gifts!

You want to make a lasting impression on your client at the end of a transaction, but it could be the wrong kind if you’re not paying attention.

Showing thanks to your clients with a closing gift is a traditional way many real estate professionals seal up a transaction. A closing gift not only serves as a special treat to your home buyers and sellers, but it can also help make you more memorable long after a transaction ends. After all,expressing gratitude can be a powerful motivator in getting clients to use your services again down the road, studies have shown.

But even with the best of intentions, your gift-giving gesture can backfire if you’re not careful. Here are some closing gift offenses to avoid:

  1. Making it all about you: That engraved wall clock with your company’s logo etched in the middle really is the perfect gift — for you. Your intention is that your client will remember you every time they glance at the time. But in all honesty, what’s the likelihood that a clock with your name plastered all over the front will end up tucked away in their attic? “It’s not about you,” says sales coach Liz Wendling, who works with real estate companies on maximizing their business potential. “Make your gift client-centered, not agent-centered. If you give them a gift that is egotistical or something they won’t enjoy, it isn’t going to be used to remember you by.” You needn’t have your name and logo in all caps all over your gift for them to remember your kind gesture. As long as it’s a thoughtful gift, they’ll remember you, Wendling says.
  2. Not listening: You’ll miss the opportunity to give your clients a truly heartfelt gift if you don’t tune in to their likes and dislikes. “When you’re driving around with them showing properties, they may mention a favorite restaurant — which you could give them a gift card to — or maybe how they’ll be taking a cruise soon, and you could give them money to spend for that,” Wendling says. “Clients are dropping hints all the time. This is one way you can make yourself more memorable, by giving them a gift from listening closely to their likes and dislikes. They’ll feel even more touched by your gesture.”
  3. Choosing the wrong time to give: Traditionally, the closing gift is something agents present to clients right after closing. But you may find they’ll appreciate your gift even more if you wait. “A gift can lose its impact if it’s not delivered in the right place or the right time,” Wendling says. If your clients just purchased or sold a house, they undoubtedly have a lot on their minds after closing. Your gift could wind up in a stack or pile that gets overlooked later on. Instead, consider giving them a gift 30 days or even 90 days after closing. It provides a perfect way to follow up and get face-to-face with them again.
  4. Not giving the gift in person: Sending your gift in the mail or leaving it at your clients’ doorstep means you’ll miss a perfect excuse to deepen your relationship by checking on how they’re doing. You’ll also be passing up an opportunity to ask for referrals, Wendling says. Contact your clients and say: “I bought a gift to thank you for your business, and I’d like to drop it off in person.” This is where you can weave in asking for a referral in a nurturing, kind way. You’re not just asking for five friends they can connect you with. Instead, you’re using the gift as a subtle way to meet with them again and throw in a “by the way, if you happen to know of anyone else I can help, please send them my name.” 
  5. Deducting too much — or not enough — on your taxes: The IRS allows you to deduct some of your business gift-giving, but make sure you stay within the legal limits for your deductions. Check out IRS Publication 463 for the guidelines. In general, you are allowed to deduct no more than $25 for business gifts to each person during a tax year. **see note
  6. Accidentally offending your client: A gift of wine would be the wrong choice for a recovering alcoholic or someone who doesn’t drink due to religious reasons. Your gourmet sweets also may be a bad choice for someone with an allergy to nuts or dairy. To play it safe, Wendling recommends giving your customers a choice of three gifts. At the end of closing, say: “I usually like to give my clients a little gift after they do business with me. I often do one of three things; which one would you like?” By allowing them to select the gift from your three options, they may be more appreciative of it, and you don’t have to fear you gave the wrong gift.  
  7. Not giving anything: “You don’t have to spend a fortune,” Wendling says. “You give based on what you can afford and what you think it’s worth.” Yet some real estate professionals are adamant that they shouldn’t be expected to give a gift in return for their service. Like it or not, closing gifts have almost become an expectation among many buyers and sellers. Giving nothing could backfire and may make some clients feel snubbed, Wendling says.

You can avoid all of these closing-gift mistakes, but remember that your client’s satisfaction doesn’t rest on it. “Honestly, they’ll remember you much more by how you treated them than by your gift,” Wendling says. “But you’re using a closing gift to build your reputation, showing thoughtfulness and using it as another opportunity to connect with your clients on a deeper level.”



**I would like to add one caveat here. If the item is branded with your company info, it is also considered marketing. You may be able to write-off 100% of the expense under marketing or split between "gift" and "marketing". Tax laws change every year, you should seek the advice of a CPA to determine the possible write-off eligibility of your expenses.

Columnist to sign books about history of Conroe, Montgomery County

I am honored to have been invited, as the book cover artist, to sign books along-side the author of 'Transformation of the "Miracle City"'

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 9:16 pm

By Matthew Costa

Columnist and Conroe history savant Robin Montgomery will be signing copies of his new book, ‘Transformation of the “Miracle City”’ Feb. 7 at the Heritage Museum of Montgomery County.

Book signings will occur between 2 and 4 p.m., and will be Valentines Day themed for visitors to “Have a Heart for History,” but those in the audience will have the ability to find out just how dedicated to Conroe’s history Montgomery is.

“I grew up with this,” Montgomery said. “My dad was a historian; he taught history and retired as principal from Conroe High School. We’re interested in all of this.”

The book contains a bit of everything concerning the rise of Conroe and Montgomery County, from the prehistoric times and the Native American tribes who originally resided here, to the impact made by African-Americans and Hispanics in the area on its way to becoming what it is today.

Even the book’s cover depicts a bit of history in Conroe, as the city was able to recover “like a phoenix rising,” after the great Conroe fire of 1911 according to Montgomery. The cover artist, Theresa Thornhill, will be at the signing as well to sign books and display some of her other art.

“It took awhile to figure out what to do on the cover,” Montgomery said. “Finally, I hit on the idea of phoenix rising, and Theresa took that and ran with it.”

Along with the two contributors to the book directly, fellow authors Flossie Stanley Keels and Larry Foerster, chairman of the Montgomery County Historical Commission will be on site to discuss their books as well. Montgomery credits Foerster for the idea of writing the book, calling him a “visionary.”

“We originally wanted to do the first half as a selection of my columns, but Larry convinced me to write a whole book on them,” Montgomery said.

Special invited guests to the book signing include teachers, Conroe service league members, and friends of the museum. Hands-on displays of Seashells, Native American artifacts, and one-room school house items will be open to the public as well.

Read article here--http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/courier/news/columnist-to-sign-books-about-history-of-conroe-montgomery-county/article_01c2c0f8-4096-574d-b05e-b43f9694ebbc.html

2014 - Looking back at area art and its impact

 Legends of Conroe: Organized by the Greater Conroe Arts Alliance, two of three proposed “Legends” murals were installed in 2014. The larger than life tributes of digitally enhanced photos created by area digital and mixed media artist Theresa Thornhill were installed on the wall of a building located at the corner of North Main and Metcalf Streets in Conroe. The two completed murals pay homage to area boxing champion and civic leader Roy Harris and Texas Radio Hall of Fame inductee, Mary McCoy. A third “Legends” mural is in the planning stages.

Gift Wrapping

Over the past few months, I've experimented with several different boxes and ribbons. My dilemma has been---how to best create a "pretty" package that also ships well. My answer is pictured here.

When this optional service is selected by the customer, the item is packaged in a Silver Glamour bubble envelope and then adorned with 1.5" black organza ribbon. A "Thank You" tag or other appropriate message tag is then threaded onto a 7/8" gray grosgrain ribbon.  

The result is a beautiful package that not only offers protection for the item enclosed but elicits a "WOW" when opened by your client, friend or family.