As owners of dry cleaning companies, all of us want to have successful relationships with our employees, our clients, our vendors and our professional advisors. The question then becomes, how do we achieve these relationships? While there is no simple, silver bullet answer, there is one strategy I can suggest that can take you far down the path to ultimate success.

One Simple Thing You Can Do to Build Relationships

Imagine the following scenario all of us have experienced. You’ve decided to revamp your pressing area. You’ve done the research, been to the trade shows, and negotiated a good deal for some new pressing equipment. You’ve sketched out a modern design with a better workflow, and all that remains is the installation. You trust a local mechanical contractor to do the work, so you hire them and set up a mutually convenient schedule, and the work begins.

The mechanical contractor sends two guys to your plant to begin the work, and because you’ve chosen a good company, these guys are smart, hardworking, diligent and respectful of your place of business and your needs. They’re good guys, with dirt under their nails, children who need braces, and you’re happy to buy them a cup of coffee at break time, or even a pizza for their lunch. The work goes more slowly than you had imagined, which causes you some anxiety and frustration, but owners always underestimate how long a project is going to take, and you (should) know that, so don’t let it bother you too much. The work gets done, and overall, you’re thrilled with the outcome and the project. High fives all around.

The bill for the work eventually comes from the contractor, and like the time it took to complete the project, the bill is higher than you expected. Don’t worry, it always is. Just make sure it’s accurate and pay it as a one-time expense, and then reap the long-term benefits of your foresight for having dramatically improved your facility. Your productivity is rising, your staff is happier, and so are your clients since the work is better and more likely delivered on time.

When you send the check to pay for the mechanical work, include a hand-written personal note of thanks to Bob the owner of the mechanical company. Tell him what an excellent job his workers Jason and Alex did. Tell him about how they had a better idea, about how diligent they were, about how pleased you are with the project. Offer to write a recommendation on their Facebook page. It doesn’t have to be long, just sincere.

I can almost guarantee you that the mechanical company owner isn’t flooded with such mail. Your note is going to be the highlight of his otherwise long day, and he’s going to share it all around his office. And when those men return to the shop on the day their boss gets that note, he’s going to invite them into his office to tell them how thrilled he is with their work. He’ll show them the note, and it will become the highlight of their day too. He will tell them that he’s going to frame the note and put it in the breakroom. Maybe the boss gives them a little bonus to help them celebrate. How many other such notes like yours is that company going to receive all year? Yours might be the only one.

What happens the next time you need that company for something? You are now one of their very best clients, like magic. Notes like this, and the personal sentiment behind them, have the capacity to generate enormous goodwill. It is the ultimate win/win situation for everyone involved. People like nothing better than to be appreciated.

When was the last time you hand wrote a letter of thanks and appreciation to your attorney? To your accountant? To the people who pick up your trash? To your spouse?

We get confused because life hurtles by us at an alarming rate. We have too much to do. We lose sight of what really matters. People work for more than money. Fixate on that concept and keep it at the top of your mind. Money is simply a means to an end; survival first, and then leisure. What all people want more than anything, even money, is self-respect, appreciation for their efforts, and the feeling of being useful. You can provide that. You have that kind of power.

Guest article from Mark Gadue