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Two Magic Words

Written by CMG News Contributor, Doug Carleton

Thank you. It's so simple, and you use it in everyday life. How do you use it in your business? Customers are on the loose, and they're spending like there's no tomorrow. Are they coming back to you? Over the last few years, more and more spending has moved online, and the pandemic added rocket fuel to the trends. Customers can more easily look for comparable products, other sales outlets, maybe better deals. If your business had a good reputation, your customers are likely coming back either physically or virtually, or both. And even though you probably realized their value before the pandemic, you might not have seriously focused on it. Now you need to focus on it. If you made it through the pandemic still in business, it is apparent that every customer is suddenly more important. And they need to know that you're aware of that because they have plenty of other choices.

Do you sell from a physical location, like a store? People are coming back to physical stores faster than many experts expected, probably because they realized how much they missed personal contact. Many businesses that have moved online will stay online, but those customers are just as important as the ones who are walking back through the doors. It's easy to thank customers face to face if they are physically in your place of business, but maybe you could make it just a little more special than the automatic thank you when they pay. When you hand them their receipt, attached could be something like a coupon with a message that says how important they are and how much you appreciate their coming back. It's a small thing, but it tells the customer that you went to a little extra effort to show your appreciation.

Depending on what you sell, a high-value or regular repeat customer might get a handwritten note expressing your appreciation for their business. Years ago, I received a hand-addressed envelope. There was a handwritten thank you card and business card from a banker that I had been working with when I opened it. I was dumbfounded and tremendously impressed. How often have you received a handwritten note or letter? How often do you think your customer has? What do you think your customer might feel if they got one from you expressing your appreciation for their business? A quick handwritten note takes almost no time, but the message it can convey is powerful. If it's online customers, you likely can't send a handwritten note. Still, suppose you have collected their email address (which you should be doing every chance you get). In that case, you could send an effortless email, something with a subject line of "Thank you" and one or two sentences conveying a similar message you would have had it been handwritten. The effort is what counts. It shows your customer that you are aware that they spent their money with you and that you know it and appreciate it.

There are many, many ways to say thank you, and as long as it's sincere, it makes a difference.


This blog entry is a slightly edited excerpt from Doug Carleton's 'The Daily Life Of A Small Business Owner' series. Doug was a mentor with SCORE, Startup Virginia, and Lighthouse Labs, and has 25+ years of experience in small business finance including 12 years in SBA lending. To contact Doug directly, please email him at


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