5 years may seem just like yesterday or seemingly forever depending on what happened 5 years ago that you are now recalling. What I want to share with you today is how some tradespeople we have employed have not forgotten the favourable impression my wife made on them 5 years ago, and how that continues to pay off in the present day.
Now lest you think that it was a physical attractiveness that the tradespeople remember my wife for, now she didn’t get remembered for wearing provocative clothing or flirting etc. which at least some people reading that opening paragraph might have suspected. That’s an outdated stereotyping of an industry isn’t it; the construction crew all stopping to notice a woman walking by. Actually, I still see that portrayal in some advertisements on television today.
No 5 years ago my wife and I were in the process of having our current home-built. Each and every day after we both arrived home, we’d get in the car and drive by the work site to see the daily progress. Some days there’d be more done than other days and we’d marvel at the progress as a blueprint got more and more visually real. Other days, we’d wonder what had been done, and we’d be guessing the poured foundation was just hardening.
So what was she doing 5 years ago that still makes her memorable? She was popping by either first thing before work when the guys were already on the site or during lunch hour, and she was handing out $5.00 gift cards to the local coffee and donut chain. It was her way of saying thank you for the work going on and this way she got right to the people performing the work not just the foreman or builder.
She’d eventually tell me that she dropped off – are you ready? $200 worth of those $5 gift cards. There were cards for the framer, drywaller, floor installer, painter, backhoe operator, cement truck driver, builder, foreman, plumber, electrician, clean up crew, and probably others I can’t recall. She obviously made a habit of giving out multiple cards to the same people over the course of the project to get to that $200 total.
Originally I couldn’t believe it when she told me what she was doing. I mean when you are already paying $300,000 for a home to be built why be adding to your costs in the form of gift cards? Well if you know my wife, you’d know that she’s just designed this way. Her motives were really to thank them in a small way for making what was to them just another building, our home. By being recognizable and on their minds as they went about their work, who knows, maybe they did things with a little more care and attention too.
So now we are renovating our basement. In going from a concrete floor to a finished basement, one of the days this past week we happened to get home to find 1 lone worker just finishing up sanding the drywall mudding. The next day my wife was talking to the contractor we hired to renovate our space, and he told my wife that the young guy who had been doing the sanding told him that he remembered her and those $5 gift cards she handed out when the place was being built. In fact, he said all the guys still remember her.
Wow. 5 years ago and she’s still memorable. That young guy by the way told us over and over again how sorry he was to have made such a mess with the drywall dust. He cleaned as best he could, and hoped we’d be happy with his work. Once again, I couldn’t help wonder if maybe; just maybe this guy was putting in a little bit more effort because of the kindness my wife had shown him 5 years ago.
Now me, I know I wouldn’t have handed out $200 in gift cards to guys I’m already paying to do a job. Oh to give myself credit I’d probably have swung by the odd time with a box of donuts. But I’d never have thought of $200 on top of everything else. In fact, when I first saw her hand out a gift card, I had said, “What are you doing?”
But that’s the thing about expressing thanks to people who work around us and sometimes work for us. Yes they are, ‘doing their job’ and that’s why they are getting paid. However, sometimes the unexpected little acknowledgement and expression of thanks goes a long way to making somebody’s day.
“Good job Johnson”, “Nicely done Adam”, “Appreciate the effort on that one Esther”, or “Excellent work Jessica” goes a long way too. Those kind of comments are even financially cheaper than my wife and her $5 gift cards. I know I personally like it when somebody thanks me sincerely for the help I’ve provided or the thoughts I’ve shared. I suspect that you deep down inside also appreciate a bit of appreciation sent your way as you go about doing your work.
So here’s a small challenge for you as you read this today. Find three people this day and thank them for something. Acknowledge their positive attitude, their teamwork, help, punctuality, smile, keyboarding accuracy – anything. Make it genuine, but catch them by surprise and tell them you appreciate something about them. I wonder how many will ask suspiciously, “What do you want?”