Canadian Contractor


Are you doing these things to care for your customers and employees?

"How do you care for your customers and employees?" asks Vancouver-based contractor consultant Ronald Coleman

By Ronald Coleman

Little Things Mean a Lot

“Small improvements in your business processes can generate measurable improvements in your profitability. Small improvements in relationships with your employees and your customers are the foundation of stability. Employees generate customers; customers generate profits. Whether these outcomes are good or bad is up to you! You can’t have one without the other.”

Showing appreciation to both clients and team members (formerly employees) is an integral part of a successful business. Too often we overlook it. It’s easy to take existing clients for granted while making special efforts to attract new ones. Many of us are guilty of assuming we take care of our team by simply giving them a pay cheque.

Respecting Team Members (Employees)

In environments in which human needs are acknowledged and talent and creativity are allowed to flourish, teams give their all.

The most valuable asset in an organization is the people. Mark Twain once said, “I can go two months on one compliment!” When was the last time you said “well done” to anyone in your business? Appreciation is the number one thing people want from their jobs, even before money and promotions, according to a Robert Half survey.

If you think you don’t have the time or the budget to start an appreciation program in your workplace, think again. There are dozens of easy, inexpensive ways to generate spirit and appreciation.

  • Companies often focus on single goals (such as annual sales quotas) and forget to celebrate the little successes that add up to the main goal. Recognize the little victories along the way and keep everyone motivated for the ultimate goal. How about treating everyone to an ice cream break or a hot dog lunch?
  • Foster an environment that encourages creativity and mutual respect. Be generous in small ways. Keep a large candy jar in your reception area filled with fun, kid-style candies, suckers, or bubble gum. Or, fill it with slips of paper with jokes or motivational sayings on them. Put a small treat in employees’ mail/message boxes. On a hot day, bring in popsicles. Encourage everyone in your organization to take their work seriously but themselves lightly.
  • Treat your team as individuals, not just part of your organization. Recognize special times in their lives such as marriages and births.
  • Keep a well-stocked refreshment area for both team members and clients. Fill it with coffee, teas, bottled water, juices, and maybe a big cookie or candy jar!
  • Let your people know you care about their work environment. Do you think those walls that need painting or the torn and dirty carpet doesn’t affect them, or that dirty washrooms and lunchrooms are acceptable? These all say a lot about your attitude towards them. Show pride and respect for yourself, your business, your team, and your clients by keeping a well-maintained place of business.
  • Celebrate together and show you care about morale. Hold Christmas parties, summer picnics, or golf tournaments. Ask your suppliers to donate prizes.

Appreciating Customers

Most people like to do business with people they like and who appreciate them.

How much money do you spend trying to attract new customers, and how much do you spend showing your existing customers that you care about them? It costs much less to keep a customer than to find a new one. Make customer appreciation a part of your everyday activities. Particularly your “A” customers.

  • Keep a stack of thank-you cards at your desk. Get in the habit at the end of each day to think about those who gave you their time or their business. In this age of electronic communications, we all appreciate an old-fashioned handwritten note. Don’t just pick up the phone to say thanks – put it in writing. The cost is small, but the impact is large. You’ll be noticed for your thoughtfulness.
  • Recognize your client’s special events and milestones such as business anniversaries, promotions, and moves. Work with a gift basket company, restaurant or florist to create a signature gift that you can send whenever the need arises.
  • Hold an annual customer appreciation day.
  • Insist that everyone in your organization show respect and appreciation to every customer – big or small. After all, if we didn’t have customers, we wouldn’t be in business.

Starting right now, find ways to show your team and clients that you care!

Customers don’t deal with companies they deal with people. So, if you want first-class customers you must have first-class team members to attract them.

Ronald Coleman is Vancouver’s premier author, speaker and consultant for the construction, manufacturing and electrical contracting industry and associations.


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