Darren Bush, now sole owner of Rutabaga, a specialty paddlesports store in Madison, Wis., has decided that one of the new stamps he is putting on the business is a stamp of gratitude. Beginning a month ago, Bush began writing personal thank you notes to folks who purchased items. In fact, he starts each day by sitting down, opening a box of note cards and handwriting anywhere from 10 to 20 cards before moving on to any other task.
"Starting my day by showing gratitude for each person who buys from us is so important to me," Bush told SNEWS®. "Looking at it another way, it is one of the key things I can do that a big box store can't -- personally connect with my consumers and show them with a handwritten thank you that I do care about their business."
Bush told us that while each message is personally written, the themes are essentially the same. He thanks each person for supporting a family-owned business, expresses his wish that they enjoy the product or products they have purchased, and, if appropriate, also thanks them for supporting the vendors by buying a product that also, many times, supports a family-owned business.
"I received a letter from a man I wrote a thank you to just the other day, who told me he had never, in many years of shopping in stores and online, ever received a personally written thank you note from the owner of a company, and that the note I sent meant a lot to him," Bush told SNEWS®.
When we asked him what he will do if his business volume grows to the point he is writing hundreds of thank you notes each morning, Bush responded, "I'll hire someone to take some other things off my plate, but not the notes. They are that important to me, to my consumers and to my store. Nothing is more important than gratitude."
SNEWS® View: Amen to that. We wonder how many other specialty retailers take the time to personally thank even their best customers? If you are reading this and you are one who does not thank your customers in the most basic, yet effective of fashions, perhaps now, in this increasingly competitive retail environment, is the perfect time to begin? Discounts and best buys are one thing. Great service is another. But we would argue that few things a retailer does can be as effective in sealing customer loyalty as a simple, heartfelt, personal thank you note. Members of the SNEWS® team have received them from other retailers over the years. We can tell you from our perspective that a single thank you note investment is returned many times over by us as buyers, even to the point of driving well out of our way to do it.