by George Hedley
I started my commercial construction company in 1977. Over the last twenty four plus years, we have built over 500 projects. As general contractors, we subcontract most of our work. Each project usually includes 20 to 30 different subcontractors. In all total, we have hired at least 10,000 subcontractors to help us construct well over 1,000 office, industrial and retail buildings.
As I think back, I can't ever recall receiving a thank-you note from a subcontractor, ever! For any reason. 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!
Just a few weeks ago, I received an unexpected thank you note and personalized gift from one of my speaking clients for doing more than I was contracted for and paid to do. I had taken extra time to help them with their marketing strategy, increasing their revenue and improving their company. My client said thanks at the time as we concluded our business. But a few days later, a big Fed-Ex package appeared at my office. I opened it. And to my surprise, was an Omaha Steaks gift box filled with six frozen T-bone teaks and stuffed potatoes! A little hand written card from Ronny Jones said: "George, thanks for taking the time to help me and 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 make him special!
That simple little gesture will return to him at least 1,000%. 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 treat me like a customer. A repeat customer. A loyal customer. Wow! He really cares about his customers!
Want to get more profitable work? Want to make your repeat customers loyal? Want to sell more than price? Want to get last look? 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 are remembered for a long time. Unexpected thank-yous get you remembered even more. Normal holiday cards and gifts are expected and don't get 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.
The simple words that work the best when thanking your customers are "I appreciate" and "Thanks".
Your notes need only be one or two lines long. Short notes make big statements. Always hand write them including the envelope. This shows you took the time, instead of your secretary doing it for you. I look for top quality, different, interesting, fun or success orientated cards to send out. The more unique the better.
Some suggestions of what to send along with your hand written thank-you notes include: business books on topics your customer might enjoy or need, funny cartoons relating to their industry, articles from magazines relating to their business, something fun you pick up while on vacation, a business tips guide you create they can use, tickets to sporting events, invitations to your association meeting, a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, etc. Anything you send should focus on them, not on you. Never send out marketing materials with your thank you's. That implies that you are selling instead of appreciating.
A Little Goes A Long Way
It is amazing how little it takes to set yourself apart from your competitors. Based on my experience, less than one in a hundred people use thank you cards or gifts on a regular basis. I especially remember those who take the time to recognize my contributions to their success. 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. OK? Just say thanks. Thank you. I appreciate you. Thanks!
George Hedley owns a $75 million construction and development company and
Hardhat Presentations. He speaks to companies on building profitable businesses,
leadership, and loyal customers. He holds 3-day in-depth "Profit-Builder
Circles" open to construction company owners in an interactive roundtable
format every 3 months. His "Profit-Builder System" includes proven
tools to always make a profit, build equity, create wealth, win profitable
jobs, motivate your people, and enjoy the benefits of owning a profitable company.