How To Create A Successful Employee Sale

One of the buzzwords that is thrown around a lot in business today is the word “culture.”  I actually love that.  It’s important because it speaks to the environment around the organization…and how everyone feels about their work.  When you create a successful culture, you have the ability to create a tribe.  If you have done that…congratulations.

And when you create a company and a brand that people are proud to represent, something cool happens.  Your employees will actually WANT to wear the logo.  In fact, they will often be willing to pay their own money to buy branded merchandise with the organization’s logo on it!  That shows a powerful culture.

Now if you already have a company store created, some team members will be able to “get their fix” that way.  If not, and you want to learn how to create a great company store, you can learn more here.

If you find yourself here, then it might be time to create a Employee Sale.

An employee sale is a fairly straight forward exercise.  It’s not a new concept.  You would select some items that could be imprinted with the company logo on it.  Employees have the opportunity to select items for themselves.  You would curate the items and the way they would be imprinted.  This allows employees to select items that they would be excited about using or wearing, while you get to manage the brand.  While the concept is not new, the technology has improved.  Now you can create an online shop to help you manage this process in a much more efficient way.

But an employee sale can really get out of control.  When they do, they can become a real nightmare to manage.  And when that happens, leaders often throw up their hands and say “no more!”  That’s a shame.  Because if you have created a culture and a tribe that want rep your brand…you want to help them!

So here are a few tips on creating a successful (and less painful) employee sale.

Keep It Simple

One common mistake I see with employee sales, especially the first one, is to try and include everything.  The more items you include, the more you have to manage.  What I recommend is to keep it simple and include the basics on the first sale.

I explain this to everyone when we start this process.  They always nod and say “Yes.  That makes sense.”  Then when we select products, they ultimately want to include 20 or more items.  It’s easy to do!  First, we are excited!  Second, we have everyone (including our boss) making special requests to be included.  Then you look down and have a ton of options on the table.  This is what most often leads to frustration.  Trust me.  Keep it simple.  You can always add the special requests on the next sale.  This leads nicely to…

Do Them Every Quarter

One of the ways to manage the requests and the expectations is to let everyone know you will do these sales consistently.  That will allow you to add special items to the “next time” list.  In addition it allows you to add seasonal items.  Things that people want in December are not what they want in July.  If you do the employee sales every quarter, you can help manage the items and the expectations.

How Do They Pay?

This may sound simple, but there are several ways to do this.  There is no “right way.”  But it’s important to figure it out up front so that both the team and the vendor know!  One way is that the company gives everyone the ability to order the item…and the company pays.  Another popular option is to allow employees to order what they want and then deduct the cost from their pay.  This payroll deduction option is one of the most popular.  Finally, you can let employees just pay themselves.  The employee sale can be set up with a credit card option to make this work.  Either way is fine…but this needs to be worked out in advance to avoid confusion.

Test and Test Again

Just like any other online product, your new store needs to be “proofed.”  You need to look over it with a fine tooth comb.  Are the colors right?  Is the logo the one I want?  Then run a few test orders to make sure the site works like you want it to.  You will likely be the first person people come to when they have questions.  So make sure you have used the site and can answer the basics.

Be Patient

As I write this, we are in the middle of the COVID crisis, so everything is colored by this time.  Stock for nearly all suppliers is a challenge.  Delivery times are tough and shipping has been delayed.  I wrote about this here.  But even in normal times, an employee sale has a lot of moving pieces.  There will be hopefully fewer if you took our advice on keeping it simple, but there are still lots of individuals, ordering lots of items, with different imprints.  That means things can be confusing.

My advice is to be patient.  Your tone will be powerful in your organization.  This is a spot to under promise and over deliver.  When you are talking about delivery times, give yourself time.  The order will not be placed until the Employee Sale closes.  After that, give yourself 3 to 4 weeks to expect delivery.  When you say that from the outset, you manage expectations and headaches.  If then, the items come in sooner, great.  But expect the unexpected.  It will decrease your stress and the amount of emails you have to answer about the items.

These are a few simple steps you can take to make your employee sale successful and less stressful.  If you want to talk about creating an employee sale for your team, let’s talk!

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Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.