Within the landscape of business, loyalty and gratitude go a long way. It’s very important to keep relationships with business partners and clients strong, as they are the ones who make your business possible. This can be done through extending your hospitality and hosting a client appreciation event, gifting clients with useful items or enjoyable experiences, or any other type of gesture that entertains your clients and shows them that you value them.
One of the simplest ways to show client appreciation is through a good, old-fashioned get-together. Whether this is an event you choose to host at your office or at an off-site venue, the majority of people are satisfied with free food, drinks, and the chance to network. A fun way to accomplish appreciation efforts without distracting from your daily operations is to combine an event with a holiday. A few ideas would be an ugly Christmas sweater party, a Halloween costume contest, or an anniversary open house—people always appreciate the extra effort that goes into event planning.
If you do choose to host an event at your workplace, part of the planning is making sure that your office is clean and presentable. One locally-owned business that can help you achieve a tidy office is 360 Clean LLC. 360 Clean utilizes trained cleaning specialists and hospital-grade disinfectant to make sure any office space is in tip-top condition, whether that is for everyday use or a special occasion. Their team of professionals are committed to meeting the individual needs of each client by creating a customized cleaning regime tailored to the commercial or residential property at hand. Cleaning can take up a lot of time, so for some companies, they can’t afford to have their staff take on extra tasks in preparation for an in-house event. On top of that, there are some cleaning considerations that require someone who knows what they are doing. In the end, you’ll be relieved you hired professionals to take care of the nooks and crannies—your guests will surely be pleased.
Food, drinks, a clean office…what’s missing? Oh yes, goats! That’s right, goats. There are a couple different unique ways your business can add goats into the mix in your client appreciation efforts. If you utilize Shepherd’s Rest Goat and Sheep Rescue, you can get a certified therapy goat to make a visit to your client’s workplace as a special surprise, or you can host a goat yoga event that you invite your clients to attend. We spoke to Jen Schurman, founder of Shepherd’s Rest, to hear how both of these things work.
“Through our ‘Cubicle Cuddles’ program, businesses can have one or more goats come to their office with a trained animal assisted therapy practitioner to de-stress, motivate, and re-energize their team,” Jen said. “The animals have diapers on under a cute outfit, so they won’t make a mess. They’re all very friendly and ready to make your client and their team smile! This is a great option for showing your appreciation in a way that really raises team spirits.”
Along with Cubicle Cuddles, Shepherd’s Rest offers goat yoga classes that can be held right at your business, or off-site at their 100-year old farm, offering a great time to host your clients in a fun way that supports a great cause. Shepherd’s Rest is a rescue organization that exists to rescue, rehabilitate, adopt, and provide sanctuary for goats and sheep in need. All of the money they raise through office events goes directly towards caring for the current 40 sheep and goats they currently host on their property. Typically charging $15 per person, your business can cover these costs for your clients so that they have a special opportunity to participate in this popular new trend. The goat yoga concept combines the wellness benefits of yoga with those of animal therapy. The mental health advantages of animal interaction are many, including lowering anxiety, increasing mental stimulation, and reducing feelings of loneliness. Goats are very interactive animals which makes the yoga session fun as they wander around, going up to anyone and everyone looking to be pet, snuggled, or for the occasional piggy-back ride!
If you’re considering hosting an out-of-office client appreciation event, there are so many amazing places in Lincoln that serve as the perfect venue. By leaving the office, you increase the number of clients you can invite and the variety of activities they can enjoy.
For example, along with the private event spaces available to rent at the Graduate Lincoln, the downtown hotel also has three Topgolf Swing Suite bays that can be reserved for an interactive engagement with your clients. Consider renting out a single hitting bay or all three bays depending on the size of your party. Also, right next to the space is John J’s Tiki Bar, which provides excellent food and tasty drinks. Having an activity to entertain your clients helps break the ice if you’re only used to interacting with them in a professional setting. Graduate Lincoln’s laid-back vibe and vintage Nebraska theme provides a comfortable space for any gathering.
The Topgolf Swing Suites at Graduate Lincoln can host parties as intimate as two people and up to a group of roughly 20. Your clients will appreciate the chance to mix things up with a variety of different games aside from just golf, including baseball, dodgeball, carnival games, and more.
Speaking of mixing it up, 48 Bowl, Inc. is also a fun destination for an event with clients. Bowling is an activity that pretty much everyone and anyone is able to participate in—and it won’t get rained out! 48 Bowl centers, Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl, offer two multi-use venues. Besides the lanes, they have meeting rooms that can be reserved for private breakout space where you can set out food, gift bags, company swag, etc.
Both bowling alleys have rates for large and small groups and can work within your budget to provide your group what it needs to make the day a success. The friendly coordinators at 48 Bowl are also happy to host casual open bowling for you and your clients, or they can set up a tournament for some fun competition!
The person to reach out to about entertaining your clients at one of the two 48 Bowl centers in Lincoln is the group sales coordinator, Terri Jo Podraza. Terri recommends that you inquire about reservation dates as far in advance as possible so that she can secure the day and time you want. Terri will be able to assist you throughout your process, from inquiry to booking a group package filled with pizza, drinks, conversation, laughs, and (fingers crossed) no gutter balls. Terri can be reached at (402) 483-7763 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter how you decide to entertain your clients, make sure you are considering transportation. Especially if you have clients coming from out of town, they will appreciate you coordinating their airport pick-up and transportation to and from the hotel.
When it comes to arriving in style, with Tailored Dreams Limousines & Party Buses you can take up to 45 people from one spot to the next in one of the five decked out limousine-style party buses in their fleet. Tailored Dreams features expert drivers, all with over 15 years of experience, to make your drive as comfortable and safe as possible. They take pride and joy in making every drive and every occasion perfect.
“Perhaps you are taking your clients to a show or an event, renting out a party bus will allow you to expand on the fun that the night has in store for your group with safe and stylish transportation,” noted DeeDee Loomis, owner of Tailored Dreams Limousines & Party Buses. “We even have handicap accessible busses, so everyone will get to experience the ride. All of our buses also feature quality air-conditioning, newly updated sound systems, and Bluetooth capabilities. We take care of everything so your business can focus on entertaining your clients and making a memorable, positive impression.”
Sometimes, it makes more sense to arrange something for your client to enjoy on their own. Even though it’s nice to show your appreciation through an activity you can enjoy together, helping that relationship grow stronger, some clients definitely prefer their space or would find it a lot more meaningful if you gave them something they could enjoy with people of their choice like friends and family members.
Something that would surely “wow” a client is getting them tickets to one of the Lied Center for Performing Arts’ upcoming performances. Recently announcing ticket sales for their upcoming 2019-20 season, the Lied Center has quite the impressive lineup for their 30th anniversary season. Most notably, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera will be premiering in Lincoln from October 23 to November 3. This production will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this one of the largest productions on tour in North America.
The Lied Center is very excited about their 30th season lineup, and you should be too, as it contains one of the biggest Broadway lineups in their history. This is your chance to treat your client to one of the following Broadway shows: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (November 11–13), Andy Blankenbuehler’s inspiring new American musical Bandstand (January 17–19, 2020), Blue Man Group (January 29–February 2, 2020), Gershwin’s An American in Paris (February 8–9, 2020), Waitress with music by Sara Bareilles (March 6–8, 2020), and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (April 23–25, 2020).
Now in its eighth season, the Lied’s “Piano Series” will also bring top piano soloist Murray Perahia to Lincoln. Murray is one of the most sought-after and cherished pianists of our time, winning three GRAMMY® Awards and nine Gramophone Awards. He returns to the Lied Center for the first time in 15 years.
The Lied Center for Performing Arts is “Nebraska’s Performing Arts Center.” As part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Lied presents the world’s most iconic artists and offers major regional, national and international performances designed to educate, inspire, and entertain audiences. The full 2019-20 season lineup and performance dates can be found online the Lied Center’s website. Reserve your tickets for yourself and your clients online at LiedCenter.org, by phone at (402) 472-4747, or in person at the Lied Center Box Office, 301 N. 12th St. Season tickets are also on sale. Patrons will receive a 10% discount for season ticket orders including four to seven events. Orders of eight or more events will receive a 20% discount.
There are also some entertaining productions taking place at the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. The Nebraska Rep creates innovative theatrical experiences to ignite the imagination, challenge the heart, promote an inclusive community, and inspire the next generation of theatre artists. However, their shows are typically not for the faint of heart—so keep that in mind when deciding which clients of yours would appreciate this type of entertainment the most.
The next production put on by the Nebraska Repertory Theatre will be The Legend of Georgia McBride, October 2–13, at the Lied Center’s Johnny Carson Theater. This play is noted to be a highly entertaining production full of sass and good spirits. When protagonist Casey is fired from his gig as an Elvis impersonator so that the bar owner can bring in a drag show to replace his act, Casey learns there’s a lot more to show business, and himself, than originally thought. ‘The King’ becomes a queen in this music-filled comedy.
Other performances in the 2019-20 season included: The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams, November 6–17 at the Temple Building; The Holiday Cabaret directed by Andy Park, December 12–21 at the Temple Building; A Thousand Words directed by Andy Park, February 12–23, 2020 at the Temple Building; and Pippin, book by Roger O. Hirson, April 1–12, 2020 at Lied Center’s Johnny Carson Theater.
In our age of instant gratification, automated answering machines, and heads buried deep into smartphones, giving the gift of entertainment and experience can be major differentiators when comparing you to the competition. Give your customers more than just a product or service, give them a personal experience to remember you and your company by. Did you share a laugh about baseball while talking retirement investments? Send a box of chocolate baseballs with a personal note. Do you finally get to meet that client from California you’ve been courting for a big account? Take them out to a local eatery for lunch, then have a gluten-free dessert basket waiting in their hotel room with chocolates featuring your brand’s logo. These are some of the ideas Erika Jensen, owner of The Chocolate Season, shared with us when we asked her for advice on entertaining clients.
“The Chocolate Season offers educational experiences and engagement opportunities with a variety of dessert and chocolate classes—perfect for a private party that you could either participate in with your clients or gift to them to use as their own team building time.” Erika told us. “We also offer customizable gift options to thank your clients; and all chocolates, small plates, desserts, and drinks are crafted in-house with local ingredients! At The Chocolate Season, which will be opening in October, we love providing a comfortable yet elegant ambience to entertain. You can also choose to have us come to you by hiring our barista/dessert truck for your next client appreciation party at your office!”
Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” With that in mind, the goal of The Chocolate Season is to provide convenient avenues of gratitude for their customers. When your customers give you business, that is a gift. By putting in the effort to return the favor, it shows them that you don’t take their gift for granted.
Erika stressed to us how important it is to make a client gift personal: “Many of our companies go through the effort of customizing the perfect gift for their clients, but then won’t follow through with a message on the card and will only send a business card with it. If you need help in this area, The Chocolate Season offers complimentary design services with a customer’s business logo to make sure their gifting experience is an authentic expression of gratitude from beginning to end. Just make sure to pay attention to the little details to seal the deal and let us help you along the way.”
The Chocolate Season provides hand-crafted artisan chocolates in a variety of flavors and variations. They have gift boxes pre-put together with tasty treats, from chocolate dipped apples to sweet caramel popcorn!
Another local company that can help you in the department of putting together customized, branded items for your client is Shirts 101. Maybe you want to give your clients a gift basket with some of your company’s branding on it, Shirts 101 can help you design and produce good-looking clothing pieces or materials. A cool idea would be to create a large welcome banner for your office if you plan to host out-of-state clients for the first time or a gathering celebrating the partnership between your company and another company here in Lincoln.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, either. Think of items that your clients will actually use! Amy Doele with Flicker Promotions shared something she has done to show her clients appreciation: “This last holiday season, I got each of my clients UnbelievaBrella™ Reverse Umbrella with my company logo on it. I also hand delivered each one to each client. This is something I try to do every year because it’s a great chance for me to make a personal connection with each client I serve while giving them something unique that they will appreciate and use. At Flicker Promotions, I can help anyone customize virtually anything, whether that be a French press for the office, a custom watch, or even personalized golf gloves!”
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for great client gifts, look no further than Pillar Restaurant Group. Pillar gift cards can be purchased and used at their growing roster of concepts, consisting of Venue Restaurant & Lounge, Piedmont Bistro by Venue, Cactus Modern Mexican & Cantina and all five Lincoln Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs locations. Gift cards afford your client the flexibility of grabbing a fresh deli sub for lunch on the go or treating themselves to a dinner made from fresh, local ingredients.
Additionally, Venue Restaurant & Lounge offers Grill Packs and Blends Premium Seasonings by Venue. Grill Packs are customizable and the Certified Angus Beef is hand-cut, never frozen, and ready to grill. Packs can be ordered online or in-store. Venue chefs custom created all of their seasoning blends from scratch working alongside their partner, International Spice. Choose from four different blends or purchase a variety pack.
Nebraska’s Own Ranch-Raised Beef also offers gift cards so that you can give your client the gift of delicious Nebraska beef. Mix that with some locally-made beer or wine and some Husker gear and you have the perfect Nebraska welcome package for an out-of-state client. Nebraska’s Own has a variety of package sizes to choose from and all the different cuts of beef originate from a family owned ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills. With 130 years of raising and selling beef, this ranch has the quality beef your clients deserve. The meat Nebraska’s Own sells is all pasture raised and hormone free. Their new flax fed beef has a noticeable increase in taste and health benefits!
If you’re really busy and you have a lot of clients to consider, it can be hard to find the time to look for gifts, wrap it, and/or pick it up and deliver it. This is where Free My Time comes in. This local delivery service does everything possible to help with ordering, packaging, picking up, and delivering. They also offer a same-day service for people trying to give a gift in a hurry. Plus, their 9to5fruit program brings the “orchard to the office.” Free My Time delivers mouth-watering assortments of hand-picked fresh fruit straight to the office every week and they would be more than happy to make your client’s office one of their stops. Have them send a basket, along with a nice hand-written note, to your client to show your appreciation!
Whether you host an event to entertain your clients or you pick out a perfect gift for them to enjoy, it’s important to do something to let the key people who make your business possible know that you appreciate their loyalty, time, and investment.