However, to stay ahead of the competition you need to find ways to stand out to customers. Sometimes it is good to not be traditional and stand apart from the crowd. Your gesture will be remembered far longer and stand out rather than be jumbled in with the crowd. In the last year I've been very fortunate to recieve two huge "thank yous" that completely blew me away. Neither have come in the last month, but both will be remembered and treasured forever.
Last winter I received a letter from the Falmouth Road Race directors. It mentioned that the race was building a 'park' at the finish line with some benches and a brick path. It was something to remind folks at other times of the year that something special happens at that spot each and every August. It is also a place where people can sit and enjoy the ocean view. People could buy bricks and put their names on them or a little message for everyone to see. However, the race directors decided to add some of their own bricks in there for key, long time race workers. The letter was informing me that I would have a brick, too, come May. Wow.
This summer I took a trip with my mother to go see my brick. Here is what we found.
This is a view of the whole 'park'. Great view, huh? This photo was taken at the finish line of the race. It's a great place to be.
This is 'my brick'. Yes, I share it with some other key volunteers, but it is completely fitting that I share it with the Smiths as they are long-time, close friends. Sue is my mentor, she taught me all of the foundations that I needed to work in the business I'm in and be successful at it. She's also the person who brought me into the Falmouth family the first year - 15 years ago.
The second huge "thank you" came in September when I got a call from Dave Perewitz asking me what I was doing that coming Saturday. He asked if I'd come to their shop because he wanted to show me something. In the last year Dave and his family have truly made me feel like part of their family so it would take something very important for me to turn down such a simple request from Dave.
I had no idea what to expect - maybe he had a 'special guest' coming by that he wanted me to meet (you never know who you will run into a Dave's) or maybe he was building a super special motorcycle that he wanted to give me a sneak peek at before it went out the door. No matter what I thought it couldn't prepare me for what was waiting for me. When I arrived at the shop I was completely surprised to be presented with my very own custom painted, flamed (!) trashcan. Yes, I have my very own Perewitz paint job! Holy Moly!
This can is a one-of-a-kind and can not be bought anywhere. No, not just because it has my name on it....Dave doesn't sell these, he only makes them as gifts and as items for charity auctions. Here was my very own. I couldn't believe my eyes. Why did Dave give it to me? Because they wanted to thank me for all the help I'd given them with their charity events, which I gladly did because the beneficiary of all was the National MS Society - an organization that is near and dear to both our hearts. And, let's face it, getting the NASCAR driver signatures for the helmet for the auction wasn't exactly a 'chore'! But, Dave wanted to say 'thanks', in his own special way. Again, WOW! And, by the way, you know I don't use this for trash, right?
Both of these gifts are grand in scale and I am humbled by them. But, the point I was making is that sometimes you don't have to be traditional to make an impact with your 'thank you'. And, your 'thank you' doesn't have to be huge in scale, although, to me, both of these are. They are memorable gifts because of what they are but also the timing - they were given at no particular time of year. The Falmouth directors didn't thank me at the end of the year - if I'm not mistaken, the letter came in February. Random time, but wonderful - a touch of summer in February in New England (brr!). That in and of itself is priceless! Dave didn't thank me at the end of the year, either, rather at a random time, when I least expected it.
Take a note from these folks - sure, feel free to say 'thank you' now, but also think about how you may thank your customers and associates at a different time of year, when they are truly going to remember it, away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Maybe a take on the 'Christmas in July' theme or something equally as non-traditional. Think outside the box, or can, as the case may be.
Just a random tidbit for today and THANK YOU for stopping by.