A Distributor Asks: We all know how much our clients spend to put their brand out there. How many of you wear other brands for free? Do you wear top brand names to just wear it?

I will wear a blank product if I can sell it, but I will not wear a logo from a client. It’s too likely to be off-putting to another client or prospect, especially if they are in the same industry. Years ago, I sold a large order of Ashworth Vests that way. The one I was wearing was blank. In addition, I will never go to a client using a bag or purse that I cannot sell to them. It does not have to be branded, but when they complement the item and ask where to get it, I want to be able to tell them from me, not send them to a local retail store.

Even when specifically going to see a client, I wear what I like and of high quality, and that is not logo T-shirts, quarter zips, etc. I am still old-fashioned and dress like I am going to see a client – professionally, no sneakers, jeans or polo shirts, and certainly not T-shirts, etc.

Anne Kleinman
President, Ad Infintum
Lawrence, New York
PPAI 139347, D2

A Distributor Asks: When a client pays for a file to be digitized for embroidery, should that client have access to that file since they paid for it?

I am a freelance graphic designer, but I’ve never digitized anything personally. We have vendors do that for us. We have files created and the cost figured into the first order they place with the logo. (File creation is free, but there is a small markup on the sell per item to compensate for a slightly higher setup charge.) We keep files locally and in cloud storage for future use.

I have many times asked decorators if they can send us the files they’ve created for our clients so we can hang onto them locally before the standard two-year art reorder time limit is up, and I’ve never had one refuse. In six years of working in the industry, I’ve had a client ask for their embroidery files maybe twice or three times. It seems courteous to provide the files, as it’s their logo and they pay for the service.

Sarah Palumbo
Sales Assistant, HALO
Clyde, Ohio
PPAI 786073, D3

A Distributor Asks: What are some tips you would give to distributors just starting out?

Don’t just sell products. Build relationships with your clients. And one thing that probably won’t get said – find yourself a good graphic designer. You’ll be surprised how many clients don’t have usable artwork.

Kevin Hubbard
CEO, One City Enterprises
Las Vegas, Nevada
PPAI 807308, D1

A Distributor Asks: What’s the farthest you have driven to pick up an order so you didn’t miss an event?

Funny you ask. A customer contacted me today wanting something in four days. I would have made $100, and we would have driven 2.5 hours round-trip. We decided to pass. I’m a “yes” person, but I just had a nightmare with two rush orders for a customer. I just couldn’t bear to do it.

Deena Kelly
Owner, Kelly Promotional Products
Franklin, Indiana
PPAI 226074, D1

I’ve made several four-plus hour road trips because that was the only way to meet the in-hands date. That said, most of the drama was on me because I took the order knowing there was zero wiggle room for error. Then “surprise,” something happened! Looking back, I probably should have walked away from most of these orders, but I’m a people-pleaser and always seem to be up for the challenge! Will I likely do it again? Probably!

Bryant Wilson
Owner, Customized Promotional Products
Wilmington, North Carolina
PPAI 671308, D1

A Distributor Asks: I have a large client that orders a bulk order and then has them drop-shipped to their remote employees in residential areas. Drop-ship fees have skyrocketed. How can I gently break the news to my client? 

Regardless of whether it was food or a little water bottle or even a small keychain, I would ask them what the total budget is per person, including shipping. Typically, this brings you back down to about an $8 item and then maybe a $15 ship charge. I’m sure they will understand. And think of how much money it will save without them having to ship everything themselves.

Karen Herzog
President, Adco Marketing
Larkspur, California
PPAI 217279, D5