Running a small business is hard. There are so many things to do and so many things that you can worry about. It is way too easy to focus all your attention on immediate needs of getting leads and making that next sale. Looking ahead to building a sustainable business is hard when you are ‘in the weeds’ taking care of the basics on a day to day basis.
Get out of the weeds
A key to getting ‘out of the weeds’ is seeing the big picture and doing the things that promote ongoing success. Having a great business will be easier if you take time to thank your customers for both new and repeat business.
A ‘Thank You’ does not sound like much but it might be the littlest and also the biggest thing you do for your business. It is little in that it does not take much on your part to do it. It can be huge because customers don’t expect it, they are not used to getting that kind of attention and they will reward you in ways you can never imagine.
The rewards for saying ‘Thank You’ are certainly not easy to measure in the short run. Here is one thing I can promise though. If you thank all of your customers for their business on a regular basis it will have an effect.
- It will have an effect on you by helping to keep your focus on customers where it belongs.
- It will also have an effect on you by knowing that you got this one part of your business right on a consistent basis.
- If you have employees it will have an effect on them because they will find out that you are doing this and they act differently toward you and your customers because of it. Of course, it will have an effect on your customers.That effect will most likely show up when you least expect it. It might show up when you or your company screws up…and the customer is understanding. It might show up when your customer is playing golf with a colleague, and mentions your name. And it will likely show up when some competitor starts sniffing around your customer trying to take her away from you.
Saying ‘Thank You’ to your customer helps to ‘lock in’ the good feelings customers have about you and protect you from many of the dangers you might face. Customers who do not feel appreciated are the most likely to switch their allegiance to another supplier. If your success depends on repeat business then you really need to focus on how your customers are thinking about you when you are not there. It is almost certain that someone else is marketing to them. If you are taking them for granted it just makes their marketing job easier.
Lock in good feelings
The benefits of consistently showing your gratitude to your customer are clear, And the best thing is that saying ‘Thank you’ is easy. You can do it by phone, you can send a handwritten note, you can send an email or you can drop off a gift. I’m sure thinking of the ways to thank you customers will not be the hard part. The only hard part is remembering to do it and then actually making it happen. That just requires that you care enough to make it a priority and then make sure you have a plan in place to get it done.
‘Thank You’ system
Getting into the habit of thanking customers is something that I think every business owner should strive for. If this is not part of ‘who you are’ you should think about how you can develop more empathy for your clients and a mindset of gratitude. I think of ‘thank you’ messages as either company messages or personal messages. You should really have a system in place to make sure the company ‘thank yous’ happen on a consistent basis. You can build a system like that on your own or get someone to help you with a more formal automated system.
On a personal level you should really make this part of your regular interactions with customers. This can be harder. We get really caught up in the day to day of getting things done that saying ‘Thank you’ to clients often gets lost. That is one reason that you really want to get a formal system in place to say the ‘institutional’ Thank You to clients so you at least have that base covered. Taking it a step beyond that is even better though. Work that ‘Thank you’ into your regular interactions with clients. You will see how it makes a difference if you give it a try.
The best example I have in my life are the handful of clients who I worked with continuously for more than a decade. Saying ‘Thank you’ was ingrained in me from a very early age and I did it in business without even realizing. At every stage in my business life I have developed relationships that lasted years and years, even when I changed companies. A number of them even spanned decades.
You can start working ‘thanks’ into your interactions with customers right away and there will certainly be an effect almost immediately. Even if the results don’t show up in your sales immediately, there will be an effect in terms of referrals, word of mouth and other intangibles. Creating a formal system to properly thank every client regularly is typically not that difficult to do and will also produce intangible benefits quickly and, most likely, tangible benefits before long.
When Jimmy Fallon took over ‘The Tonight Show’ he continued his practice of doing ‘Thank You Notes’ every Friday. That suggests a basic system that can work. All you need to do is decide who needs to be thanked, how will you thank them, who will do it and when will it happen. That is a fundamental business system that is almost guaranteed to be successful.
Thank-you notes every Friday
When you think about business as a series of valuable relationships rather than individual transactions it can be much easier to see long term success. This is not something that is emphasized in the ‘internet age’ but the basics of human relationships have not been suspended, just modified by new tools and techniques.