Here in Omaha, we’ve been experiencing unseasonably warm weather. This past Saturday, we were twice blessed with a Husker win and a 75-degree day in mid-October. As amazing as it is to delay the snow for a few more weeks (or months), the balmy days make many of us forget the holidays are just around the corner.
Less than two weeks from now, children will be decked out in their best costumes, begging for candy at our doors. Then, overnight, the grocery stores will throw the Halloween treats in a 50% off bin and restock the shelves with wrapping paper, garland, and lights. A local radio station will unleash Rudolph and Frosty, effectively signaling us to start shopping. But, in the midst of this transition, some of us will pause only for a brief moment to celebrate Thanksgiving.
While the weather might be stalling, like it or not, we are quickly approaching what could be the most important holiday to our firms. Nearly all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, proving it deserves to be held in a much higher regard than its current status as an intermission between Halloween and Christmas. In fact, this national day of thanks has the power to net personal and professional rewards all year round. With exactly five weeks to go until mountains of mashed potatoes and tryptophan-filled turkey hit the table, let’s briefly explore the five whys, hows, and whens of honoring your clients on Thanksgiving.
Five Benefits of Adopting an Attitude of Gratitude
Stress is an inevitable by-product of both daily business and the added pressure of the season. You may be knee-deep in end-of-year client requests all day, only to rush out the door for a child’s holiday concert or a friend’s party. A simple cure to combat these overwhelming feelings is practicing genuine gratitude. Starting just a small commitment to everyday thankfulness can have the following positive effects:
- Former Excell Keynote Dr. Christine Carter presented research that recounting three things you are grateful for each morning changed the outlook of participants within three weeks, making them, on average, 25% happier.
- A 2011 study showed those who detailed what they were grateful for each evening slept better and longer and had more energy throughout the day.
- Gratitude has been proven to affect social standing and others’ perception of your trustworthiness, potentially increasing buy-in from employees and referrals from clients.
- Physical health also begins to improve with thankfulness, as grateful individuals report fewer aches and pains and exercise more often.
- Scientists say gratitude can give your self-esteem a boost, causing you to concentrate less on what others are doing and more on how to perfect your own performance.
Five Ways to Take Gratitude to the Next Level
Now that you know the advantages gratitude can have on your personal life, it’s easy to understand how these would translate to professional practices. Thanking your current clients for their loyalty is a wonderful way to grow and maintain the relationships you’ve worked hard to cultivate.
The caveat to appreciation is you must be authentic. Think beyond a simple “thank you” at the end of meeting and tailor it to the individual client. Here are some ideas to up your gratitude game:
- Shy away from a generic Thanksgiving message. Instead, handwrite a note using details specific to your client, such as mentioning their children or a trip they plan to take.
- When you need a brain break, pick up the phone and call one client to thank them. Do your best to keep the conversation away from business and geared towards their passions and interests.
- You’ve got to eat, and they’ve got to eat! Ask select clients to join you for a thank you lunch and casual conversation.
- If there is a client you love working with, share it on social media! Publicly spotlighting clients could become your new November tradition.
- Are you thinking bigger? Take a look at client surveys to find out what kind of gift they would enjoy receiving or to make a donation in their name.
Five Strategies to Execute Your Mission of Gratitude
You’re well-versed on the why and the how, but one question remains: When are you going to find time to personally thank clients? Like most advisors, your schedule is probably packed from the moment you get to work until the moment you leave. If this is the case, worry not, we’ve still got some advice to dole out. Approach your appreciation project keeping the following in mind:
- Break up your list into manageable pieces. At the end of each day, write the name of three clients on a sticky note. During your downtime in the car or at the gym, reflect only on these clients to make writing thank yous easier.
- Realize your timeline is flexible. If you can only get to a portion of your clients before Thanksgiving, don’t rush the process. Consider sending New Year’s thank you notes as well.
- Delegate some of the thank yous to members of your team, such as AWAs, who have also built a strong relationship with the client.
- Create a thank you event, such as a pie giveaway. See our free tool, the fillable invite, to get started. Then, order the pies and wait for your clients to come to you!
- Still short on time? Use your year-end team retreat to devise an initiative to make 2017 the Year of Thanks.
Gratitude can be a powerful thing. It’s also unnecessarily complex if not sincere. Use our three lists of five to take action and see for yourself how mastering the art of appreciation is one of the most simple, yet effective, things you can do to move the needle for your practice.