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3 Types of Gift Businesses

August 14, 2009

Yesterday I visited an old friend and former customer of mine.  She was accepting 13 pallets (yes, 13 pallets) of new product from a Gift manufacturer that afternoon.    This company is now her primary vendor while I know very well who used to be.  

So what happened?   The original vendor who put her into this category was sold and new management has since lost its way.   Well, maybe that’s not the best way to describe it.  What really happened is that they never developed a passion for their core products and spent their energies doing other things.   And the results are; weak designs, poor (and costly) representation and neglected customers.

So who took the business – a company who is passionate about their products, devotes themselves to good design and has stuck to what works.  And they fawn all over this customer.  

But there is a third part to this story – the new entry;  A well established company with deep pockets who moved into her main product category.   The company had an inside track to the retailer and her opening test order was $1,300.  Not bad.  But they goofed it up and she cancelled the order.

So in a tough economy the 13 pallet order goes to the folks who do the basic good work every day.  How tough is that?  

Here’s the question for both retailers and wholesalers; are you heaping love on your largest customers?   Are you “sticking to your knitting” and doing what works?    In turnarounds I find that every business has a profitable core somewhere and often, it is really just basic stuff.   Perhaps not big, exciting and fancy things but things that pay the bills and protect your business.

There is still good, full-priced business out there but it’s no longer knocking on our door.  

Besides the obvious, there are a few secrets to ramping sales quickly in the Gift Business and we’re working on a new booklet to share that information.   If you’d rather not wait, give us a call.   www.DorsetPartners.com