The Art of Appreciation

Over the last 25 years, our construction company has built over 500 projects and hired at least 10,000 subcontractors. As I think back, I don’t recall receiving a thank you note from a subcontractor - ever. It seems like the art of appreciation for your customer has become a forgotten art form. Business owners and managers tend to take good customers for granted over time. Companies must think doing a good job is thanks enough. I disagree!

Unexpected thanks

I once received an unexpected thank you note and personalized gift from one of my speaking clients for doing more than I was paid to do. I took some extra time to help them with their company’s marketing strategy. A few days later, a big Fed-Ex package appeared at my office. To my surprise, it was a gift box filled with six frozen T-bone steaks and stuffed potatoes! A little hand written card from Ronny Jones said: "George, thanks for taking the time to help my business. I appreciate your input and advice."

Wow! I was surprised and impressed. I immediately called Ronny and thanked him for the uncalled for, but appreciated gesture. In his low-key humble way, Ronny said: "Golly, it was no big deal." Guess what? It was a big deal to me! I will always remember Ronny for that small token of his appreciation. He didn't have to send me a gift. He didn't have to write a thank you card. But he did. And most don't. That sets him apart from the crowd. That makes him special.

Simple little gestures return 1,000 percent. The next time I have an opportunity to do business with him, I will go out of my way to make it happen. I want to do business with people who care about me, respect my time and appreciate me. He really cares about his customers. Do you?

Thank them

Want to get more profitable work? Want to make your repeat customers loyal? Want to sell more than price? Want to set yourself apart from your competition? Want to show your customers you care? Thank them! A little thanks goes a long way. Small tokens of appreciation and unexpected thank you’s get you remembered. Normal holiday cards and gifts are expected and don't give the punch that an out of the ordinary gesture creates. Make it a habit to thank your clients on a regular and unexpected basis.

One-a-day vitamins

My personal goal is to send out one hand written thank you card to a client, potential client or referring party every day. On an annual basis, my goal is to thank each loyal and repeat customer at least three times in writing. I want to tell them I appreciate the opportunity to do business with them. I want to thank them for letting us be on their team. Occasionally, I also send out a small gift of appreciation as well. The key is to do it. It only takes a minute. These notes, cards and gifts work like "One A Day" vitamins. They keep your bottom-line healthy.

Your notes need only be one or two lines long. Short notes make big statements. Always hand write them including the envelope. I look for top quality, different, interesting, fun or success orientated cards to send out. The more unique the better.

You can also send along business books, funny cartoons, business articles, something fun, business tips guide, tickets to sporting events, invitations to association meetings, or gift certificates to their favorite restaurant. Anything you send should focus on them, not on you. Never send out marketing materials with your thank you's as that implies you are selling instead of appreciating.

It is amazing how little it takes to set yourself apart from your competitors. A little gesture goes a long way. The return on thanks will amaze you if you give them out. Don't stay stuck in the normalcy of "Thanks, but no thanks". Start today. One a day. Just say thanks and I appreciate you.

George Hedley is a professional business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business to Work!” and “The Business Success Blueprint For Contractors” available at his online bookstore. He works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. E-mail: GH@HardhatPresentations.com to request FREE admission to his next webinar, signup for his e-newsletter, be part of a group BIZCOACH program, join a peer mastermind BIZGROUP, take a class at Hardhat BIZSCHOOL online university, or hire George to speak. Visit www.HardhatPresentations.com

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