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OCTOBER 2006

Oregon & Washington

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CUTCO CLOSING GIFTS:

A cut above the rest Written by Erin Cummins

G

iving a gift to a client at the close of a transaction is a thoughtful gesture of appreciation to customers for trusting their Realtor to take care of their real estate needs. However, a closing gift should also fulfill a second purpose. The right closing gift should also serve the Realtor as a long-term, daily, reminder of his or her excellent service. The gift should also serve the Realtor by keeping him or her in the forefront of a client’s mind when they and their friends consider future real estate needs.

Tony Carlston, owner of C & C Enterprises, provides Realtors with closing gifts that serve them, as well as their clients. Carlston, currently the number one independent distributor of Cutco Cutlery in the United States, has found a unique niche in which Realtors can build their businesses through Cutco closing gifts. Carlston’s company currently serves the closing gift needs of over 600 Realtors and 200 loan officers in the Portland/Vancouver metro area. Cutco, the largest manufacturer of kitchen cutlery in the United States, has been headquartered in Olean, N.Y., since its inception in 1949. Cutco is typically sold by college students through in-home demonstrations. The company believes that this is the best method of sales because customers must use the product to get a sense of the quality. This quality could not be demonstrated in

traditional retail settings such as malls, catalogues, and the Internet. Cutco’s superior customer service and forever guarantee have resulted in the company creating more than 13 million loyal, satisfied Cutco owners over the past 57 years. The forever guarantee allows customers to return damaged products at no cost for repair or replacement. Most customers truly appreciate that when they buy Cutco products they are establishing a lifetime relationship with the company. There are five important benefits that make Cutco the best closing gift an agent can give. First, Cutco is a gift with longevity. Few gifts can be given to clients that will last for the rest of their lives. Most closing gifts are consumed (gift baskets, dinner out, passport cards, etc.) or have a limited shelf life. Because Cutco’s guarantee insures that the products will last forever, this is a gift that clients will have forever. In fact, Carlston says that in his nine years with the company, he has met many Cutco customers who have owned and used


“FEW GIFTS CAN BE GIVEN TO CLIENTS THAT WILL LAST FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.” their knives for more than 50 years. Another benefit of giving a Cutco closing gift is the fact that Cutco is a useful product. Cutco is unique as a closing gift because all customers use knives and kitchen accessories even if they don’t cook very often. Cutco is a practical and useful gift for any client. A Cutco gift is not just a closing gift, but also serves as both advertising and a branding tool. A major issue for agents when choosing a closing gift is the $25 gift deduction limit per client that the Internal Revenue Service allows. Most Realtors spend between $75 and $125 dollars per gift. Because Cutco products are engraved with the Realtor’s name, logo, and phone number, the entire cost of the gift is legally deductible in the form of advertising. Cutco accomplishes what few gifts can: It reminds the customer of their Realtor on a daily basis and creates top-of-mind awareness.

Additionally, Carlston’s company, C & C Enterprises, offers a unique way for Realtors to maximize their existing client database to both retain clients and build their businesses with referrals. One year after a Realtor’s client receives the closing gift the agent will have the option to have the gift serviced free of charge. The gift servicing includes a visit to the client’s home by a highly trained C & C Enterprises service rep to sharpen the client’s Cutco on behalf of the Realtor. During the service appointment, the representative has the client complete a customer satisfaction/feedback survey which has been compiled by the Realtor (each survey is specific and unique to each Realtor and his or her clients.) In addition to any specific information on the survey the Realtor compiles, all surveys given to the clients contain a section for referrals for the Realtor that he or she may begin marketing to. The representa-

tive will also help the customer compile a wish list of Cutco products which is returned to the Realtor. The agent will then have a list of Cutco items the customer would like to own which is useful for future personalized gift ideas for each particular client. All information collected by the service representative during the approximately half-hour appointment is then promptly returned to the agent. The service program that Carlston’s company provides is entirely free to agents (and of course, the client who receives the gift) and is a great way to maintain contact with, obtain feedback from, and build their businesses through referrals from past clients. Lastly, the Cutco closing gift program saves time and eliminates stress. Realtors keep a small supply of Cutco gifts engraved and ready to give on hand. Having a supply of engraved and ready-to-give Cutco gifts on hand eliminates the sometimes mentally exhausting and time consuming process of shopping for gifts on a closing-byclosing and client-by-client basis. For Realtors, incorporating the Cutco closing gift program into their businesses eliminates the distractions associated with gift giving and allows them to focus their time and energy on what is most important: building their businesses and income generating activities. Closing gifts should not only be a gesture of appreciation to clients, but should also serve the agent who gave the gift. An engraved Cutco closing gift is one that is used every day for the rest of the client’s life while helping Realtors build their businesses through referrals. For more information on Cutco closing gifts call Tony at 360-901-9746.

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Cutco Principal Broker  

real estate, business gifts, oregon, tony carlston

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