Nearly every business faces significant competition. When a prospect decides to choose you, saying “thank you” might not feel like enough. This is even more true when a client gives you a referral or comes back for repeat work.
A handwritten thank you card or phone call from a company executive goes a long way. But if you are looking for more unique ways to express your gratitude, take a lesson from Steven Lowry, Account Executive for Exhibit Concepts.
Every year for nearly 20 years, Lowry sends customized gift baskets full of goodies to his clients at the end of the year. However, his gift baskets are anything but ordinary. Each year, Lowry selects a theme that focuses on a particular project. In 2017, the basket’s focus was on Mississippi specific items that showcased our work with the Civil Rights Museum and in 2018, the Dr. Sarah Jandrucko Academy for Early Learners in Mansfield, Texas. This year, the basket will focus on our work with the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oakridge, Tennessee. As an added touch of detail, these baskets are in the shape of the state we completed the project.
Sending a customized gift basket to your clients adds an element of “surprise and delight,” as we call it. Food is always appreciated, but any item that shows you understand your client and are genuinely grateful for their business works.
Do you have clients coming into town? Consider surprising them with a care package at their hotel. Let’s face it, business travel can sometimes be overwhelming. You’re trying to balance travel with work while also tending to things at home. When they check-in at their hotel, receiving a gift bag that might include waters, teas, bath salts or other stress relievers is a surprise that takes those worries away, even if for a brief moment.
When clients are in town, we generally opt for a dinner out. While this is always fun and appreciated, you can take a step further by providing your clients with a home-cooked meal.
“This tradition goes all the way back to our founder, Ned Brown,” said Lowry. “Our meetings are often in-house, and offering a home-cooked meal allows us to avoid the stress and logistics of traveling elsewhere, and clients are very appreciative.”
Before you gather supplies and hit the stove, be sure to ask about any food allergies or specifications to ensure a positive experience.
Some clients may have company policies prohibiting the receipt of gifts as this may be viewed as a conflict of interest. Understand and respect your client’s policies or run the risk of putting them in an awkward position having to return the gift. In some cases, the policy has a dollar amount limitation and you can stay below this amount and still provide the gift. Or you can make a donation to a charity of their choosing which often is not violating the policy. In any event, you should always send the hand written “thank you”.
Before a new museum, exhibit, or gallery opens, Lowry always sends the client flowers as a means to celebrate their achievement.
If your client has hit a milestone such as opening a new gallery, launched a new product or completed a rebranding initiative flowers and a card are always a nice touch. If you’re not feeling flowers, you can swap them out for chocolates, a catered lunch, or baked goods such as cookies or cakes decorated like the client’s logo.
No matter how you decide to show your appreciation, any gesture will have value. Day in and day out, we work tirelessly to satisfy and delight clients, and ultimately, that’s what they appreciate the most.
The most important thing when showing your appreciation is not how much you spend, but in being genuine and demonstrating that you truly understand them, appreciate their business and will be there to help them solve any problems they might have.