A Distributor Asks: A client of mine wants to refer business my way, but they are requesting something in return like commission or discount pricing. While I’m willing to do so once, I don’t want to give him special pricing indefinitely. What strategies do you use?


Give them 10-20% of the profits for that new business for 12-14 months. You’d be surprised how much more business they find for you.

Brandon Kennedy
BrandCo Marketing
Simi Valley, California
PPAI 105922, D3

When I pay a referral fee, my rule is 10% of the price of the product paid after the order is paid, delivered and accepted, and it only applies to the first order placed by that company/person. My explanation is that after the referral, it’s on me to earn the continuing business.

Rama Beerfas, MAS, CTSM
Lev Promotions
Santee, California
PPAI 218331, D1

I have a referral page on my site. If someone gives a referral and they become a client, they get a gift.

Greg Miller
Lakemoor, Illinois
PPAI 576761, D2

Most of my “friends” pass referrals because they want to see me succeed, not because they’re looking to profit. I’m big on offering to take them out for dinner or something fun to show appreciation. At the end of the day, our business relationship should be positive and mutually beneficial. If it’s not, why bother?

Nenette Lusk Gray
Lemonade Creative Marketing, LLC
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
PPAI 468267, D1

A Distributor Asks: I billed a client for shipping and handling on an order. The client emailed me back requesting the invoices of the shipping cost to compare what I paid against what I charge. This has never happened to me and I want to reply with, “No, this information is confidential,” but I wanted to see what other distributors have done in similar situations.


They are welcome to use their shipper number in the future. I had one wanting to see what my supplier invoices. She deducted money from what she paid. I marked it off to firing a customer I didn’t need. Her father was the owner and I did business with him, but she stepped in at payment time. I didn’t show her anything. In over 30 years, that’s the one [customer who has done this.] Do not show people the inner workings of your business. I don’t markup shipping.

Karen Mitchell Bishop, MAS
Impressions Promotional Advertising & Tupperware Brands
Henderson, Tennessee

I have always charged [a certain amount] for handling, and my reasoning with my customers has always been that I pay a weekly service fee to UPS to have them pick up deliveries and that is a reasonable fee.

I do not make a profit on shipping, but I do not want to lose money either, so I just cover my expenses of the UPS fee over and above the shipping fee. This is just another observation: If a customer does not trust me regarding shipping fees, it raises a red flag and I put them on my do-not-sell list because that means I haven’t done a good job of establishing a relationship. Just for the record, I haven’t had a customer inquire about shipping fees in at least 25 years. The main reason is because when I first begin to develop a relationship with a client, I spell everything out upfront as to how we do things and why, and this usually eliminates any challenges with future orders.

John Hoyle, MAS
Sales Associate
Boston, Massachusetts
PPAI 105182, D12

My approach would be to seek understanding. If you are interested in maintaining the relationship, I’d probably reply back with questions  that will help you understand what motivations and concerns are driving them to inquire about this. It will help you direct your answer in a way that makes them feel heard, helps alleviate their concerns and maintains the relationship.

Sara Bischoff Knepper
Owner and Manager
Jumping Ink Promotions
Sherwood, Oregon
PPAI 282069, D1

Send them the bill for shipping. The markup is the handling charge. Honesty is always the best policy.

Chris McCoy
Account Executive
American Solutions for Business
Madison, Mississippi
PPAI 678510, D2

A Distributor Asks: Does anyone have experience with a client who’s also interested in NFTs? Or have you been in a marketing campaign where NFTs are involved? If so, I’d love to hear about it, as I’m looking to expand my knowledge in this area.

A Distributor Asks: I am moving my home office to a larger workspace—note: not a retail space, but a workspace—and I’m interested in suggestions from other promotional products companies on how  to display, store product and format the layout of this space.

What’s Your Answer?

Email your response(s) to Question@ppai.org for the chance to be featured in a future issue of PPB.  

Danielle Renda is an associate editor at PPAI.