Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Power of Thank-You Notes

Thank-you notes can be a powerful business tool. The sad thing is these notes are a lost art in today’s hectic, technology-driven environment. Let’s put it this way, the more thank-you notes you send, the more people you’ll have eating out of your hand.
Think about it. Positive reinforcement goes a long way; and most people don’t give (or get) much of it.
On his lecture tour, management guru Tom Peters told the story of a retired 3M executive who was a stickler for expressing his appreciation. He described to Peters his retirement party. “Several people came up to me, one or two with tears in their eyes, and thanked me for a thank-you note, sometimes one I’d written 10 or 15 years before!”
People don’t forget kindness. Who can you send thank-you notes to? Anyone and everyone. Employees, clients, prospective clients, anyone you appreciate.
What about a phone call or e-mail? Too easy. Writing a note demonstrates a level of effort, and it is permanent. And these letters must be handwritten. A two-line, largely unreadable scrawl beats a page and a half spit out by the laser printer or even an email message.
It’s often said that the little things in business often separate the successful entrepreneur from the rest of the pack. If that’s true, you’ve just read one of the most important components to business success.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Turn Your Business Into An Experience

Author and management guru Harvey Mackey frequently tells a story about a basic cab ride from Manhattan, N.Y., to LaGuardia Airport. Mackey gets into a cab and the driver says, “Hi, my name is Walter. I’m your driver, and I’m going to get you there safely, on time and in a courteous fashion.” The driver then holds up a New York Times and a USA Today and asks if Mackey would like them. Then he offers Mackey a fruit basket, complete with snack foods, juices, soft drinks, etc. He then asks, “Would you prefer hard rock or classical music?”
This cab driver is turning an average ride into an experience. He’s taken the most mundane experience imaginable—a cab ride—and transformed it into a special experience for riders.
Customers love riding in Walter’s cab. His cab ride hits their emotions, and emotions are something that no competitor can copy.
What does it cost the cab driver to offer such treats to his riders? Close to $5,000 a year. What does he get for his $5,000? He makes $12,000-$14,000 extra a year in tips. Wow! Just for being courteous and offering a few snacks and the morning paper.
What makes him unique? This cabby thinks differently. He stopped thinking like every other cab driver in town, and discovered what it would take to turn his boring, mundane occupation into an experience customers would always remember.
You can do that with your company. Not with mirrors, magic or miracles. Just by thinking differently. Ask yourself, "How can I turn my business into an experience?"