Many of you worked from dawn to dusk or even had longer days during the Christmas holiday 2020 season, but I didn't. And I don’t intend to in 2021 either.
Yes, I made, shipped, and delivered gift baskets — lots of them. Many of them in the $200 price range. After all, gift baskets are the core ingredient of my business.
But I increased that total by more than double by planning in advance to work smarter and not harder.
How did I do it?
I took advantage of something that is made available to everyone of you by one of our sponsors — Maple Ridge Farms. You can see their ad at the end of this article.
Some gift basket companies are distributors of promotional products — which is like another whole industry. I am. But most of these companies won’t bother to work with gift basket companies that aren’t familiar with how the promo industry works, how to submit orders, artwork, etc.
Maple Ridge Farms is one of the few companies that will. I discovered the company many years ago and have been using them to help me increase my profits each year by working smarter.
Why would you want to work with Maple Ridge?
There are so many reasons that my response is why wouldn’t you? Just a few of these reasons are:
- They have been named the Top Food Gift Company for 18 years in a row.
- Their gifts are packed when ordered and not prepared months in advance like many are.
- They always ship on time.
- Their products are EXCEPTIONAL. I have companies contact me throughout the year saying that they received a gift created by Maple Ridge and want to buy the candy, cookies, cheese or something else that was in the package. They can’t.
- Their service is spectacular.
- The presentation is always beautiful including imprints on ribbons, boxes, and even cutting boards.
- They provide me with printed catalogs, a website that has my company info on it, and other marketing materials.
- They care about me — their customer. Even the owner of the company has called me on the phone to answer a question that I had. How many company owners will do that?
- They care enough that they sponsor this magazine and GiftBasketNetwork with their advertising and have for many years.
- And, best of all, almost all of my gift orders give me a 40% profit. Even most of the dropship gift basket companies only give you a 15—20% profit?
Of course, it does take a little work from me. I add these gifts to my website as well as market them with email and direct mail. I take orders, submit them on an order form that I created, and make sure that the artwork for the imprint as well as the mailing list for shipments to multiple addresses is in the correct format. I answer questions from the customers and follow the order from start to finish.
And when I’m done, I know that my customers are happy. Their customers are happy. And my bank account is happy. I also know that I will have repeat customers during the next holiday season and even a few throughout the year.
This may sound like any other dropship company but far from it. These gifts are intended for your corporate and business customers. You can’t buy just one gift at a time. There are minimums for each product. And they will ship all the gifts to one
address or to individual addresses.
So how do you grow your business smarter using Maple Ridge Farms?
First, read their ad which follows this article and then check out their website at MapleRidge.com. Using the info in the ad, contact them and ask to sign up as one of their distributors and they will take you though the process.
Like any other part of your business, you have to market to get customers. Since most of you sell your gift baskets to corporate customers, you already have those contacts. Let them know that you are a distributor for Maple Ridge and how that can benefit them. Use your normal marketing methods throughout the year to remind them of this valuable service.
When you get that first order, there are things you need to know. Maple Ridge is a promotional products company — not your normal dropshipper. Save yourself lots of headaches by reading How to Order information here. Here are some tips to help you charge your customer as well as how to submit that order properly.
- For the imprint, there is a setup fee of $50 for first-time customers or $20 if it is a repeat customer and the artwork will be the same as a previous order.
- Artwork (logo, imprint) should preferably be in an EPS vector file format. This format allows the art to be resized if needed without losing quality. Read all the details about the artwork here. If the customer doesn’t have the artwork in the proper format and you can’t create it, there are companies online that will do it for you or Maple Ridge will do it for a fee of $45. I use Ignition Drawing where the charge is as low as $15.
- Greeting cards are available. Choices can be seen here. The cost is $4 per card if the messages are all the same or $8 per card if messages are different.
- Maple Ridge will ship the total order to one address or to individual addresses. There is a dropship fee of $4 per package if shipped to more than one address. Your customer’s address list needs to be in a specific format. You can direct them to the Excel spreadsheet that can be downloaded here.
- You can call Maple Ridge customer service for a quote for shipping so that you can charge your customer in advance. Give the customer service person the name and number of the product, how many will be shipping, and the zip code they will ship to.
If you are ordering chocolates in the warmer months, shipping will be by air. If my customer is shipping to multiple addresses, I get a shipping estimate for the address the furthest distance from Wisconsin and use that for each gift. Don’t forget to add the $4 per package dropship fee.
- Maple Ridge doesn’t have a standard order form. Distributors have their own. I created an order form on my letterhead that I use for the customer and another one to send to Maple Ridge. If you would like a copy of the order form that I created for my own business, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you.
- I always get full payment (including all costs) upfront from my customer. This is the reason for the customer order form.My customer order form shows the itemized total that will be charged to their credit card, space for their credit card information and signature for approval of the order. I include the total cost of the product, the set-up fee, artwork costs if the customer doesn’t have it in the proper format, cost for gift cards if used, and total shipping charges. Once I receive the order form back from the customer, I run their credit card and submit the order to Maple Ridge along with my credit card information.
- Maple Ridge does not bill or charge my customer. That is my responsibility which is good because it means that this is my customer that I can continue to build relationships with throughout the year just as I would with my gift basket
customers. If there are any problems with the order, Maple Ridge contacts me — not my customer — and I deal directly with the customer.
One question that I have been asked is: Do you sell Maple Ridge just during the holidays?
The answer is NO. Although the biggest bulk of my sales are during the 4th quarter, there are opportunities for year-round sales. If you take a look through the products on the Maple Ridge website, you will find that they are ideal marketingproducts for tradeshows, conventions, prospecting, thank-yous and more. A big seller during the 2021 pandemic lockdown were the “Work from Home” gifts which businesses could order and have shipped directly to their employees.
I have an attorney that orders chocolate products during the cooler months but uses them throughout the year to give to his new customers to say thank you for theirbusiness. A Realtor uses them to thank a new customer for listing their property with her.
The possibilities are endless. I have sold to a private University, banks, financial service companies, transportation companies, hospitals, and even a traveling amusement park.
So why use Maple Ridge to grow your business? Why wouldn’t you!
BUT if you want to take advantage of this “Work Smarter Not Harder” opportunity, you need to do it now before Maple Ridge is in the midst of their busiest time of the year and will have less time to help you set up your account and understand how it works.