The importance of thanking those who make your work possible
(As shown in the photo above, we've kept my dad's old-fashioned tradition of giving Thanksgiving turkeys to all employees going – that's me on the right with shop foreman Garth Utgard.)
Thanksgiving is our chance to reflect on what’s important and to give thanks. Americans typically celebrate by gorging themselves on food and then collapsing on the couch to watch football (apologies to our Canadian readers for being a month late for your Thanksgiving celebration – I hope it was great!).
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to surround yourself with family and friends and take stock of what’s significant in your life, and it’s also the perfect time to focus on the folks who have helped make your business successful.
The first people who deserve thanks are Messer Truck Equipment employees – without them, there is no business! Some companies incentivize certain behaviors to improve efficiency or safety, but sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ can mean much more than money. A few years ago, on my wife’s excellent suggestion, I started sending out handwritten Thanksgiving cards to all my employees. I was surprised how many of them stopped me the following week to express their appreciation. It’s surprising how rarely this proven way of showing gratitude is used – after all, everyone loves receiving mail! We all get too caught up in the daily grind of our responsibilities, so it’s important to let the people you work with know they’re appreciated.
It’s also important to remember that vendors and suppliers are sometimes taken for granted. While a prevailing mindset says that they’re thanked with every order, there are other ways to show them gratitude. Regular, honest, constructive feedback can be very valuable and help build a partnership with a vendor. In the age of social media, it’s mutually beneficial to share vendor postings with your network and offer shout-outs when applicable. This helps both companies grow their networks.
Finally, the group that seems to get the largest portion of our appreciation is customers. After all, they’re the reason we’re in business, so they’re certainly worthy of gratitude. Showing it doesn’t need to be difficult – or expensive. Customers love free stuff, whether it’s a ball cap or a T-shirt.
And swag can be a great way to get your logo into the community. We give a logoed hat to every customer who purchases a snow plow, and it’s always fun to see their expressions when they get a small gift they weren’t expecting. You can also offer customers knowledge. Blogs with helpful maintenance tips, YouTube how-to videos, and clinics are all great ways to say thanks and educate your customers.
A customer profile in a newsletter or on Facebook is another great way to offer thanks. Many of our customers are like-minded small businesses, so why not share the good work they’re doing with your existing network? This not only helps you highlight the profiled customer, it also shows your other customers how your product or service is helping another business succeed.
Lastly, it’s great to participate in reverse referrals. If you do business with other businesses, look for ways to refer more business to them. This is an unexpected gesture that is sure to set you apart.
Many people are essential to your business, and it’s important to let them know that they’re appreciated. Don’t limit this to November though – make it a goal to show your gratitude throughout the coming year.