How Saying "Thank You" Can Grow Your Business
One of the very first things I learned way back when was to hand write a Thank You note to each of my advertising customers.
It was the 1970’s. While I was a graduate student in Kansas City I landed a prime time job as a morning drive disk jockey on a well know radio station. I was doing very well adjusting to my new found fame as a local celebrity. It was lots of fun and I was enjoying life. One day I went into the General Manager’s office and asked for a raise. We had just bought our first house and also had a lot of medical bills from our firstborn son who had cerebral palsy. Surely he could see how valuable I was to the station’s image. Didn’t I deserve a raise?
He proceeded to tell me that it wasn’t in the budget. However, he explained that if I would take myself off the air and go into the sales department I could give myself a raise. In fact, an unlimited raise based on my performance. Now that sounded intriguing. But I was scared. It was an intimidating idea. Well, up to that point my sales experience included selling flower seeds and greeting cards door to door when I was about 12 years old. My pay came in the form of prizes that I could select out of a cool color catalog. Or was it black and white? Things like a camera, binoculars, or a telescope. Stuff little boys love.
Oh yeah, I did have a paper route as a teenager and had to be sure to collect the money from all the subscribers so I could get paid. I figured out a little collections trick to reduce my workload. I clipped a mail order form from the back of a comic book and ordered a return address stamp. If I placed a pre-addressed envelope in the newspaper once a month I could get a large percentage of my customers to just mail me their check. So I only had to collect in person from the remaining few. Worked like a charm. Then there was the job at my high school friend’s parents’ business, a swimming pool company right down the street from my house. I ran the pool supply store and sold in ground and above ground pools. Unfortunately, I was fired from that job for using some inappropriate common vernacular slang in earshot of the boss. Oops!
I can’t remember if that was before or after I was fired from the local IGA grocery store. The manager called me in to his office one day to inform me that I just wasn’t cut out for the grocery store business. I didn’t think a 15 year old was looking for a long term career stocking shelves. Now I never did find out if I was fired for blowing up cans of pork and beans in the incinerator in the stock room, (Before pollution controls and global warming), or whether they didn’t like me riding the back of grocery carts out to the little old lady’s cars to help them load up. So you can see my sales experience and training was on the slim side when I approached the GM at the radio station.
Right about that time a retired preacher gave me an old book called, The Success System That Never Fails by W. Clement Stone, the Chicago insurance millionaire. Clem Stone had been the manager of Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich. Between each chapter there was a clever saying under the title, “Little Hinges That Swing Big Doors.” That book gave me the courage to prepare a detailed presentation to my General Manager outlining exactly how I would go about selling radio advertising and reach specific goals. He said it was the best presentation he had ever seen. Quite honestly, I don’t know how many other presentations he had reviewed.
He gave me the green light to move into the sales office and occupy my own desk. My new sales job also launched me on a lifetime of sales, marketing and advertising as well as introducing me to the greatest sales trainers in the world via live seminars and books. Lots and lots of books. A few years ago I was honored to have my picture taken with Mark Victor Hansen, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Mark presented me with an advertising award for a television commercial I had created. One of the results of accepting the sales job was that I won several sales awards at that radio station and still have a specially designed award certificate hanging on the wall of my office after 30 years!
One of the very first things I learned way back when was to hand write a Thank You note to each of my advertising customers. Back then there was no internet, no personal computers, no email, no Twitter or Facebook. It was all manual labor. Go to the store and buy the greeting cards, go the Post Office and buy the stamps, write the notes (by hand), stamp the envelope, address the envelope, go to the mailbox, deposit the card.
But my efforts paid off. The next time I’d walk into a clients store or business it was like I was a long lost friend. “Hi Dave!” was the enthusiastic welcome I got most often. It gave me a huge edge over the competition. There were times when my competitor would leave an advertising proposal and my clients would ask me to review it and give my opinion! Imagine that…
The trust and friendship I earned came as a result of
1. showing up on time for appointments,
2. always doing what I said I would do, and
3. always being grateful for the business.
A greeting card was the cement on the relationship. And not just one thank you card. I’d learn their spouse’s name, their children’s names, their dog’s name. And I’d find out when their birthday was. So there were multiple reasons to keep in touch. Tom Hopkins tells the story of building a multi-million dollar real estate business from sending cards. Relationships can’t be bought. Relationships can’t be faked. You are either genuine and sincere or not.
Now comes the problem. Or should I say challenge? Sending a thank you card is a lost art form. We either don’t have the time or don’t take the time. Many are victims of the “fast sale” mentality. Get them to sign on the dotted line and move on to the next sale. Statistics show it is far easier to get repeat sales from satisfied customers than it is to generate new clients. Here is the exciting news. Are you sitting down? Are you ready for this? About nine years ago my business consultant introduced me to an online greeting card program. No, I don’t mean e-cards. I’m talking about a real physical thank you card or birthday card that you can send from your desktop or laptop or even your Smartphone.
The company I discovered offers a selection of over 13,000 cards of every category imaginable. Hundreds of business owners, managers and sales people are flocking to this business tool like crazy. It is so simple and fast that I have personal sent out over 1200 cards just over the past year! I select a card, type in my message, auto-fill the address from a built in contact manager and click SEND. The card is printed, stuffed in a real envelope, stamped with a real stamp and mailed by noon the next day.
If that weren’t enough, it does it all in my actual handwriting AND my real signature. Not only that, but I can tell the software to add a gift card like Starbucks or American Express. Oh there’s so much more but you’ll have to check it out for yourself. Now, based on what I just described, I suppose you are thinking that this must be pretty expensive. Yes, it is very elaborate software. Well here’s another surprise. I can send out a real classy looking glossy card for 61 cents! Plus postage. So with a 44 cent stamp we’re talking $1.06. A card like this from even Walmart would easily cost $4.50.
Once you sign up, you get a free website and in addition to greeting cards you can send postcards and newsletter size cards the same way. I’ve used it to promote events, like my Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. I sent out 212 postcard invitations and had over 80 people show up! That’s over a 30% response rate. Fantastic! It might have something to do with me putting a picture on the postcard of me wearing my Mickey Mouse tie in front of my Christmas tree. Or not. :)
Now please know I am not promoting this particular company or service. It’s just my story about the importance of saying thank you and expressing gratefulness to your customers and clients.
My experience has been very positive in building great relationships with my clients (and family and friends) by sending thank you cards with a personal hand written note . And I’ve gotten plenty of referrals as a result. I will be sending out cards for the rest of my life.
Copyright 2017-2020 David Henning and The Freshstart Company LLC
About the author: David Henning is the President of the Freshstart Company, LLC, a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Speaker and Trainer. He has over thirty years experience as a business owner, entrepreneur, radio talk show host, radio and television copywriter, commercial voice over guy, newspaper editor, author and motivational public speaker. Dave is a freelance copywriter and has authored hundreds of articles about helping people get a fresh start in life. Dave loves to encourage people and help build positive healthy relationships. He has used this resource for that purpose for years.