Patricia Krause here; PPAF President and Territory Manager @ alphabroder/PrimeLine.
I thought I’d share the story of how powerful the words Thank You can be.
Several years ago I was assigned a new territory to grow.
I lined up all my appointments, steamed all my samples and was ready to take on this new territory...I was so excited!
Upon walking into my first appointment, I found the facility in a complete disarray; boxes upon boxes were piled to one side of the showroom area, the other side had open file cabinets with folders pouring out of the drawers making it impossible to shut close. What the heck?!
The owner of the company was packing everything up and closing her shop.
Business was off and had been for several months and she wanted to cut her losses. She had completely forgotten she had made this appointment with me and apologized for wasting my time...WHAT? The first appointment in my new territory was closing her business on the very day I take over her account! This wasn’t going to look good back at corporate.
I asked , okay begged, her to hold off on closing her doors until I could sit down and go over a few thoughts/ideas on some options she may not have given any thought to regarding growing her business. She said her plan was to move everything out over the next 2 weeks and would allow me to come back anytime I had available until then.
I went to all the other accounts I had appointments with and even reschedule a few to squeeze them all in on the Wednesday, leaving me Thursday and Friday to meet back with this account.
I talked with her while she was still packing up. I even started helping her pack the files falling out of the cabinet. These files, as it turned out, were all her accounts. Some from as long as 10 years ago. I asked if these were still active companies she dealt with...nope. They were great accounts at one point in time, but she hadn’t seen business from them in a while. Sitting on the floor of her shop, I asked if she would entertain calling any of them up...right now...just to say Thank You for the business they gave her back in the day...and hang up.
She stopped what she was doing and just stood there staring at me...
She walked over to the cabinet and dug through the top drawer...”so you want me to call this account and say Thank You for the business you gave me 2 years ago and just hang up?” I nodded.
She dialed the number and it was disconnected. She pulled another file and tried that number; This is what I remember hearing: “Hi, my name is Mary Lambert of 5 Star Promotions and I just wanted to thank you for the business you gave me last year. I did all your field uniforms for your new roofing division. No, that was all. I just didn’t remember thanking David at the time, so I thought I’d do that now.” And hung up.
She and I spent the remainder of the week making these calls to all the files in her cabinet. Some phone numbers were out of order, others we left voice mails for and others that we got to speak with, kept inquiring about why we were REALLY calling? What were we selling? We would reply with the same line: “Not a thing. Just wanted to say Thank You.”
I left that Friday night not knowing how this would turn out, but knowing that if Mary was going to close her doors, her customers would all know she had appreciated their business.
This was in April of 2009.
In January of 2010, at the PPAI Show in Las Vegas, Mary stopped by the alphabroder booth. She came by to give me an award...Marketing Idea of the Decade.
It seems that by that Monday morning she had a few calls returned from those customers we had called the week before. So she decided to hold off closing until these jobs were done. Then a few more calls came in the week after, and the week after that...by July she decided to hold off closing shop and build on all the new business that what was coming in. By the end of of 2009 she had hired 3 employees...All because she made it a point to say Thank You for the business.