Friday, November 25, 2011

SOP Friday: Celebrate Anniversaries and Birthdays

If nothing else, small business is a world of personal connections. Unlike mega-corps, there are few employees, few owners, and few clients. So it makes a difference when you pay attention to the little things.

One of my favorite features on Facebook is the birthday list. I like to see who has a birthday today and send a quick note. Not to total strangers (since I have 4400 connections, many are strangers), but to people I know or have done business with.

Celebrate Client Anniversaries

Early on, our company started sending birthday greetings if we know a client's birthday. Not generic corporate cards, but just fun birthday cards I bought at the store. After all, we didn't really know that many birthdays.

More importantly, we started celebrating major client anniversaries. These started at the one year mark. I bought a small gift, like a bottle of wine, and presented the client with a card and the gift. I always keep my eye out for good gifts. One time I gave a client a 25 pound Hershey's chocolate bar. It was big and fun.

For five and ten year anniversaries I step it up quite a bit, especially for larger clients. I throw an actual party with a cake and punch. Many bakeries can print a "photo" onto a sheet cake. We order up a cake with a picture of us and the client, or with our logos together and a message that says "Thank you for five great years."

Some bakeries are really sticklers about logos, fearing copyright infringement. I think they had one warning about copy rights and trademarks and they're scared to death . . . even though they display large knock-off images of Disney characters. Anyway, some won't put your logo on the cake . . . not even your own logo. Find another bakery or settle for a nice font.

The key point is to actually celebrate your business partnership.

Remember, most businesses aren't IN business for five years, let alone having a five year anniversary of doing business with another company. And ten years is very rare stuff.

Celebrate Employee Birthdays

This is very simple. You might go to lunch or just buy a cake and sing Happy Birthday at the office.

As adults we rarely celebrate birthdays in a major way unless they end with a 5 or 0. So it's nice when people in the office bring out a cake and a card that everyone signed.

It's also nice to give your team a half hour of hanging out with each other and chatting casually instead of only working together.

If you have a larger staff, you may want to combine the January birthdays, February birthdays, etc.

If you can spring for a give card to Best Buy or some other place, that's always appreciated.

Implementation is Easy

Someone (office manager?) needs to keep track of employee birthdays. Just keep a list, and keep it updated when you hire someone.

The same goes for clients: Create a schedule that includes the first month they were ever billed for services. This is very easy to figure out. Just open QuickBooks and look at the details for that client. Go back to the first entry. It will be an invoice for the first job you did.

If you would rather track the first time they signed a managed service contract, that may take a little more work. But all the answers are in Quickbooks.

We have used Send Out Cards sometimes, but we just don't have the volume to make it worthwhile. That means we need to actually buy cards for our clients. The volume is low because we rarely have more than four or five anniversaries in a month. And we only go all-out on biggies.

The bottom line is that implementing a party policy is easy. You just have to decide to do it.

. . . And remember that it's the little things that matter in the long run.

Your Comments Welcome.

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About this Series

SOP Friday - or Standard Operating System Friday - is a series dedicated to helping small computer consulting firms develop the right processes and procedures to create a successful and profitable consulting business.

Find out more about the series, and view the complete "table of contents" for SOP Friday at

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Next week's topic: Defining Your Company to Clients and Employees


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