What is best practice in the promotional gifting and clothing industry? To avoid being taken for a ride by a fly-by-night operation, it is vital that your organisation chooses an establishment that has been around for some years, operates professionally, and bases their offering to customers on great service, quality products and fair prices.

If you’re in the market for a new corporate uniform or a selection of corporate gifts, it’s a good idea to go with an established promotional company that can provide the A to Z of what your requirements may stretch to. “Ideally,” says Mellanie Jenkins, director of Sporting Images, “a representative from the company should meet with you to make a full assessment of your needs.”

Because some of the smaller promotional operations out there can take up to six weeks to deliver your goods, it is important to ask upfront what the turnaround time will be. “If a promotional company is established in the market, they should be able to offer you turnaround times of as little as seven days,” she enthuses.

When it comes to your corporate identity, be sure that your promotional company is equipped to put a package together for you that encapsulates your corporate look – from logo to colour palette to look and feel, advises Mellanie. “It may include a winter jacket, a summer jacket, what your pens should look like. And this is how all your branding should be handled until you make changes in around two years time.”

You therefore need to be 100 percent happy before the order is put through so the personal touch – that face-to-face meeting with your promotional executive – is of the essence. If the promotional company only handles orders online, and never sits down with their clients, they’ll miss out on the connection they could have established and the understanding that could have been gained, which could well be what makes them return in the future.

The flair comes in when your promotional executive goes away with all the information you have given them, and uses their skill and experience to create a great corporate identity within your unique set of parameters. If different promotional companies are each working on a different item for you, people will be able to pick up on this disparity when they walk into your reception area or see your staff members operating in public.

“We insist on doing the whole package for a corporate client to ensure they get a streamlined offering,” Mellanie advises. “And because we’ve been around in the industry for a number of years, we are sufficiently established to work with suppliers who give us quality and where there are not likely to be any returns.”

In turn, this approach ensures strong relationships are built with clients and suppliers, and client orders get preference when manufacturers have a number of tight deadlines to meet.

“It is important for us at Sporting Images to offer something superior, a good product, with excellent embroidery and a fast delivery time once that initial deposit has been paid. I always come back to service,” Mellanie concludes, “because service for me is key. If you can’t give a good service, you shouldn’t be in the promotional industry.”