News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 26, 2012

Business Cents: The lost art of thank you notes

Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — When was the last time you wrote a thank you note to someone for something they did for you? When was the last time you received one? Why is it important to handwrite a thank you note? Today, many people have lost that personal touch of writing thank you notes due to the age of technology and instant gratification of email. But hand written thank you notes play a much larger role than many business people even realize.

When scribing a thank you note, it permits the recipient to actually feel it and touch it, which empowers the senses. By allowing the recipient to feel and touch it, it creates a greater acknowledgment from the sender. In addition, as a sender it forces you to focus on all the positive and good things you encounter on a regular basis, either daily or weekly. When you typically appreciate something, it happens more often and will visit you again. Think about the feeling that invokes.

So let’s put it to the test. For example, you are the owner of a local boutique and have just sold some apparel to a lady. You obtain her address during check out and on the next Monday morning, you send her a thank you note for her purchase. This small task has just increased the probability that the lady will return to purchase from you again. On just the other side of the picture, let’s say you are trying to get people to pay for services you have rendered as an attorney. Send the client a hand written note thanking them for their payment. What you will see most likely happen is that the client will pay their bill faster. The same goes for cases: Thank people for cases and you will see more cases come through your door.

Just a couple of last points, what is the real purpose of a thank you note (besides the obvious “thank you” for their business and/or time)? The purpose is also to forge and build strong relationships. Individuals tend to do business with who they like. So please be sure to thank those around you for the support they lend your business and life endeavors.

And finally, I would like to “thank” my colleague, Dr. Bruce McLaren. During a discussion recently, we discussed the vital importance of thank you notes in the business community. It was Dr. McLaren that inspired this article.

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.