7 Creative Ways Business Owners Can Give Thanks to Their Customers and Employees

Kathy Simpson

’Tis the season to be thankful and express our gratitude to others. Thanks extended regularly can generate good will and make your business memorable. And that can lead to more business with customers, greater productivity among employees and maybe even faster payments from your business partners.

Here are some small ways to give big thanks, and they don’t have to cost a lot.

Offer perks, prizes or pick-me-ups

Everyone likes a gift – especially when it’s unexpected. These ideas can be a win-win for the recipient and your business:

  • Gift cards, discount coupons and special deliveries for your customers or vendors reward loyalty, can help bring in repeat business, and are a good way to promote your services and products.
  • Employee rewards, whether tangible or not. A holiday bonus or even a small monetary gesture of appreciation can go a long way with employees. An extra (paid) day off around the holidays can also give time-pressed staff a much deserved break. Sometimes a little extra time is the most valuable.

Make it personal with a card or a call

If you are recognizing someone specific, make sure it’s sincere and timely. Expressing your thanks in writing or a personal phone call is one way to do just that. The person will know you took the time to go the extra mile.

“A handwritten note is a powerful tool for small businesses,” says Emily Carter, state director of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center. “Taking the time to follow up with a personal message will strengthen your relationship with customers and help you to stand apart from your competition.”

A phone call can do the same. With the prevalence of electronic communication, sometimes just hearing a real voice on the other end can have special meaning.

Give a shout-out social media style

Leveraging social media platforms, such as your company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, is a great way to show public recognition to many people at once. Launch a mini thank-you campaign. Design and share a photo thanking your supporters. You could also post or tweet a list of the top ten things your business is thankful for.

Celebrate those who helped make the year a success

Holiday season usually means busy budget season for businesses. Planning festivities might be the last thing on your mind. But hosting an appreciation event doesn’t have to mean splashing out on a lavish soiree.

Consider these low-cost options for your employees:

  • Potluck it! A potluck party can be fun and inexpensive. Make your event employee-only and encourage everyone to make their favorite dish.
  • Wait until the offseason. You’ll be able to negotiate a better deal with popular holiday venues in January.

For your customers and vendors:

  • Host an open house. To help draw visitors, offer a main attraction, such as a wine tasting or raffle prizes for the first 50 customers.
  • Deliver a fruit basket, floral arrangement or holiday goodies to select clients.

A little goes a long way

However you choose to say thank you, remember this: gratitude is infectious and a little goes a long way. Plant the seeds of appreciation now and set the tone for a prosperous year.

What tips do you have on the best ways to say thanks? Share your ideas with us by posting a comment below.

7 Responses to "7 Creative Ways Business Owners Can Give Thanks to Their Customers and Employees"

    • Karen | November 7, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      As an employee, an invitation to a potluck from my employer is an insult. It says: “I don’t want to do any work or spend any money. Instead I want YOU to work, unpaid, and spend your own money to prepare for this party. Happy Holidays!”

    • Sheila | November 29, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Wow. I didn’t think of it like that at all. As an employee, I actually like to get together with my co-workers in a non business setting to network in a less stressful environment. Of course, I’m thinking that the potluck is also with basics provided by my employer – our contributions would be supplementary, not the main dishes!

    • Starla | December 5, 2018 at 10:16 am

      I used to work for a company where we had regular potlucks and they were always so much fun! Usually the company would provide the main dish and basics (plates, utensils, paper products). They were a great way to build a team feeling among the employees as well as the employer. it was a smaller (15-25 full-time employees) family-owned business and most of us were long-time employees, so that may have made a difference in how we approached the potluck.

    • Darlene Lutty | December 12, 2018 at 11:10 am

      We go all-out for a nice Holiday dinner at a nearby winery for our employees and their significant others. We usually schedule potlucks in the Summer or Fall when we aren’t crazy busy. We order chicken and make pasta, while employees offer to make their favorite dips and deserts. Those that don’t care to cook will bring pop or buy a veggie tray. It only takes an hour or so, but it is a relaxing atmosphere that everyone seems to enjoy. We, too, are a small, close knit family run business…we rely on each other all year and this is a nice social break that we all look forward to.

      • Hannah Sullivan | December 12, 2018 at 2:28 pm

        Darlene, your employee outings sound so fun! Thanks for sharing.

    • Leslie Smith | December 19, 2018 at 11:43 am

      I don’t have employees but for committee meetings with volunteers or get-togethers with girlfriends, potlucks are so fun! I find that people like to show-off their kitchen prowess and their best recipes. A twist on the potluck is every person brings an item for a salad bar and as the host I would supply the greens and a basket of rolls, or bring a topping for baked potatoes.

      • Elizabeth Larkin | December 20, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        Thank you for your comment, Leslie.

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