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09.10.2013 13:30:00

Entertaining Clients? Save Your Money

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the holidays approach, many companies are asking the question: How much should I spend to keep my best clients happy? Although the occasional small gift is expected, the down economy and increased corporate scrutiny have put a damper on how much companies give each year. If you're tempted to give lavish vacations or tickets to the Super Bowl, experts warn that going "all out" will send the wrong message, and might actually cost you some loyal clients -- or trusted employees. "In the 1980s, you couldn't spend enough money," says Bruce Bachenheimer, director of the Entrepreneurship Lab at Pace University in New York. "But today clients are saying, 'Forget the hunting trip, forget the lavish treatment -- just give me a better price." Client spending -- and the perception of what "acceptable" client spending is -- has evolved over the past decade, Bachenheimer says. The dot-com crash in 2000 inspired companies to re-examine their investment priorities, and after 9/11 companies saw more urgency in preparing for the inevitable "rainy day." The "final straw" occurred most recently in 2008, when businesses were forced to pare down to their most essential operating costs -- and extravagant client treatment just didn't make the cut. ...

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