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The Business Value of ‘Thank You’


By Cindy McGovern

Remember the last time a client, a boss or a co-worker gave you a handwritten thank-you note to let you know you’re doing a good job? Maybe someone at work has surprised you with flowers, an unexpected gift or a bonus. Has a vendor ever slipped you a gift card worth the price of a cup of fancy coffee, just to show appreciation for your loyalty?

It felt good. It might even have prompted you to keep up the good work. You might have thought back to that gesture when you toyed with moving to a different company or switching to a cheaper vendor.

That’s how others feel when you take the time to show them your appreciation. So do it often.

It’s true that some regulations and guidelines restrict you from giving gifts to clients. But your gesture of appreciation doesn’t have to cost you anything. It doesn’t even have to be a gift. Simply saying “thank you” can go a long way toward improving employee morale, retaining valuable staff members and keeping your clients coming back. In fact, in survey after survey, more than 20 percent of employees have said:

  • If they don’t feel recognized for doing good work, they have recently applied for a different job—compared with 12 percent of employees who do feel recognized.
  • More appreciation from bosses would make them happier at work.
  • They prefer written or oral “thank yous” over extra time off or gifts.

In our industry today, none of us can stand to lose a good employee. Saying “thank you” can help you retain your good employees.

Saying “thank you” is a simple but powerful gesture. And it can lay the foundation for a great relationship so when the time comes for you to ask someone to go the extra mile, that person will return the favor.

Here are a few no-cost ways to express your appreciation:

  • A handwritten or emailed note that includes a specific reference to something the recipient did for you or trusted you with can elevate a casual business relationship to a more important one.
  • After a crazy month, an in-person pat on the back for a job well done—again, with specific mentions of achievements—lets an employee know that you notice and appreciate hard work.
  • Returning a favor after someone has done one for you tells the other person that the relationship is not one-sided.
  • Some sincere words of appreciation can pick up an employee or coworker who is showing signs of burnout or depression.

Too often, we are running a million miles an hour, juggling umpteen tasks and, unfortunately, taking others for granted—even when we know we couldn’t get it all done without them.

We throw away the “thank you.” Or we say “thanks,” but it’s not heartfelt. Maybe you end every call with: “OK, great, we’ll get that done. Thank you so much.” But you’re just being courteous, not grateful.

Instead, be thoughtful about your gratitude. Think about how much your job depends on your clients, customers, co-workers, managers and others. Thank them, and mean it.

As a small business owner, I hand-write thank-you notes on fancy paper and mail them in time for Thanksgiving delivery each year to some clients, employees and vendors—even some former ones. It feels good to show people how grateful I am for their support and trust. And I hope that they feel good when they realize that I appreciate and remember them.

That kind of follow up not only sets you up for positive results with these people in the future, but it signals that the professional relationship you want reaches far beyond a single transaction. It says you care enough to stay in touch. It says you are truly grateful for them.

Cindy McGovern is CEO of Orange Leaf Consulting, a San Francisco-based consulting company that specializes in helping title companies grow their businesses. Her book, Every Job Is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work is available for sale at drcindy.com/about-the-book/book-specials/


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