How Do You Show Thanks? — Experts Weigh In

Thanks! Gracias! Grazie! Danke sehr! Merci beaucoup! However you say it, taking the time to pause and say thank you, or allow your actions to speak for you, is one of the most powerful things an entrepreneur can do for their business. Small business owners have a lot to be thankful for and we’re fascinated with how entrepreneurs express their gratitude. Some splurge on a big party for the team, others start meetings by complimenting team members who went above and beyond that week, and still others hand write a thank you for one and all.

This is how 54 entrepreneurs are showing their appreciation for clients, employees, partners, and customers just like you.

1. “We show thanks to our employees by covering their dinner, on the evening of a given achievement. For example, if a software developer fixes a big bug, or launches a new feature, dinner is on us that night.” — Ryan Kulp, Fomo

2. “I like to give back in some creative ways during all-year-round, without waiting for any stormy event or Holiday Season. One of the ways is to reward my customers. I listen to my threads, see who and what’s being shared. Then I make a gift in a way it will be valuable to the receiver. I also have my own charities I support all-year-round. At the end of the year, I gather parents from my child’s school at our house, and we spend half a day sharing the lives lived during this past year. Then we play games, allowing them to win in a big and small ways. As I do have a ton of sponsors and clients, they contribute their prizes to the evening. The most important thing to me is to make connections with people and get them connected with each other in real life. We spend so much online and trying to get our businesses going and grow that we lose a precious connection to living.” — Laura Gontchar, Celebrate Woman Today

3. “We donate 10% of our profit to multiple sclerosis research. It’s a cause that’s close to our hearts, and our customers.” — Ryan Shell, The Home T

4. “We are in the corporate gift business so, this question is a little unfair for us. We tend to give our clients the most thoughtful, on-trend gifts each season. I also hand-write a lot of postcards and send those along with the gifts OR just a note by itself for any occasion. I find handwritten notes are a lost art and can standout for the receiver. For Vendors, we tend to have a lot of factories, so I find food and beer works great as gifts. For staff, we tend to give everyone a lot of free Patterson brands swag (jackets, shoes, belts, sunglasses) and lunches and dinners out.” — Rich Patterson, Patterson Brands

5. “I send gift baskets to my clients, and the results have been absolutely amazing. I am motivated only by the desire to thank them, but sending gift baskets has actually led to a lot more work! One of my clients called me, crying, saying that no one had ever done something so nice for him. He said, ‘Mark yourself down as booked for next year,’ and many clients have done the same.” Dan Nainan

6. “We show thanks to our clients by being there for them at nearly given time – on the phone, through email, through social media. We have developed deep and meaningful relationships with our clients so it’s not uncommon for us to check on them in between business-related conversation and call them when we know they have some down time to see how they are doing, perhaps how their families are doing. We want to keep it personable. It can’t always be about money – our clients are valuable people who have lives and feelings. — Jake Tully,

7. “I show thanks to my clients by occasionally absorbing extra costs that falls outside the normal scope of work. For example, our clients often need graphics. PhotoShop, paid WordPress plugins, additional copywriting, etc. By absorbing these costs, my clients don’t feel nickel-and-dimed, and I’m still able to remain profitable by carefully monitoring these expenses. It’s our way of saying thanks for being great clients!” — Brian Jensen, Congruent Digital

8. “I show thanks to my customers with hand written notes with a special thank you. And to my partners – take them out to lunch or invite them to a special event, my treat.” — Amy Geffen, Geffen Careers

9. “Throughout the year my company fills multiple requests from individuals and nonprofit groups for discounts and donated items. Our company also provides products such as custom bags and banners to local schools and businesses as a show of goodwill and community spirit.” — Shelly Grieshop, Totally Promotional

10. “As a small business, we show thanks by giving back to charities and non-profits in our community. This year, we partnered with Porchlight, a non-profit that is working to eliminate homelessness in Madison to help them fund new sleeping mattresses for their men’s shelter through a community event and fundraiser.” — Kelly Ehlers, Ideas That Evoke

11. “As a small business owner, I am very thankful for my employees. To show my appreciation, I like writing a handwritten letter highlighting all of their successes and contribution for the year. It’s a genuine way to show my employees I appreciate their dedication and hard work. My employees are the backbones to my business and without them I would not be here today.” — Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco Kids Apparel

12. “I send a handwritten note to customers and I’ve emailed a simple ‘thank you for your business’ or ‘wishing you a Happy Birthday’ as a sign of appreciation. I’ve also picked an unusual holiday or special event to promote. Recently, I did a promotion surrounding the Olympics in Rio. I’ve also provided upgrades for free or a discount on a bill and offer inexpensive giveaway items, like exercise equipment, for loyal customers.” — Zondra Wilson Blu Skin Care, LLC

13. “As a single mom running my own thriving business I do have a lot to be thankful for, and it’s a mainstay of my mission to express my gratitude as often as possible. I make it a point to talk daily to every team member and find something to compliment and thank them for-appreciation is the easiest way to keep a team humming along. I also write custom thank you cards to everyone who helps us out in some way: journalists who cover us in the media, suppliers who pull us out of a tight spot, the FedEx driver who waits on a shipment pickup and on and on. We absolutely thank our customers via our email promotions and by sending them coupons and rewards for telling their friends about our unique company. I believe gratitude is the bedrock of success.” — Erin Jump Fry,

14. “Every day when I get here, unlock the front door, turn the sign around and put on the lights, I realize how lucky I am. I started a business around a simple, handcrafted, multi-tasking product that I concocted in my dining room, and the fact that I can share it with others and make money at the same time makes me giddy with gratitude. I realize on a daily basis that without our loyal followers, or our brand ambassadors as I like to call them, we would have no business. I remember to thank my customers all the time, and have a few Loyalty and Birthday programs in place to show them just how grateful we are. We even have a VIP group on Facebook for our biggest brand ambassadors. We make each sale a special and unique experience for our customers. Because the business is basically just my sister and I, we appreciate each other daily and recognize the importance of making our customers feel like family.” — Roberta Perry, Scrubz Body Scrub

15. “As an entrepreneur event planner, I show thanks to my clients, vendors and contractors I hire to assist me. Clients receive custom designed drink ware, tote bags; moms to be are gifted with a personalized onesie or stuffed animal. We give shout outs to vendors for doing great work in our newsletter/social media and sometimes take them to lunch. After every event I call/email contractors thanking them by bragging about something awesome they did and treat them to an outing to strengthen our working relationship.” — Kristina Cox, Celebrate & Communicate

16. “As an author and school admissions consultant, I show thanks to those who have bought my books and used my services by also offering free podcasts sharing the latest NYC School News and featuring interviews with parents, teachers, experts and administrators so that all families can know all their school options — and how to get them.” — Alna Adams, NYC School Secrets

17. “Under promise and over deliver, always. Whether it’s an extra print or a free digital album. I’ll also include a note saying here’s a gift from me for being so amazing to work with.” — Les Hanna, Hanna Arts Photography

18. “We found that the best way to thank an employee is based on his/her personality. The methods we use are gifts, handwritten appreciation letters, going out as a group or individually for an activity out of the office or simply telling them know that their work is appreciated. If you pay close attention to your employees, you are bound to figure out how they like to be thanked.” — Frederick Mercier,

19. “As small business owners, we sacrifice a lot to start our companies and it is easy to forget that our employees, our families, and our partners sacrifice with us. November is the month of thankfulness so take advantage of it to let your team know that you are thankful for all of the times they’ve gone above and beyond for your company. If you’re feeling up to it, let them know that on the other months too.” — Charles Dugan, American Image Displays

20. “Simple things can have a big impact. People just want to be recognized and appreciated, and it doesn’t have to be a big hoopla. What I do is to include a nice handwritten thank you card, mention the customer by name and the jewelry item they purchased. If I know the recipient’s name, I use that as well. I also ask them to let me know how the gift went down. I want to be involved and it’s amazing how many customers appreciate it! In addition, I put in some Rocher chocolates. It’s kind of funny. A customer will receive a bracelet that cost several thousand dollars gift wrapped from us — and a package of Rocher chocolates, only costing a few bucks. But I hear all the time that the chocolates were a huge hit! None of this takes much time to do, but it means a lot to our customers.” — Ron Yates Titanium-Jewelry

21. “We concentrate on paying well above minimum wage, starting a retirement program and giving bonuses. This creates more goodwill than a free steak any day.” — Julie Shipley, The Soup Shop

22. “We believe that what makes a difference in showing thanks is continuous positive reinforcement. Sending a thank you note to the customer, or saying ‘good job’ to the employees once or twice a year doesn’t do the job. You need to be consistent in showing your appreciation, even if it is just in a form of a kind word.” — Ostap Bosak, Marquis Gardens

23.“With our employees not only do we have an awesome system in place for quarterly incentives based on going above and beyond for the job, but we also have a Customer Comments Board. After 25 positive reports relating to exceptional service, we reward our team with lunch on the company. We regularly show our gratitude for our customers by offering exclusive free shipping to past customers. We also reward exceptional customers for sending in project photos with gift cards and much more and feature their beautifully finished spaces across our social sites.” — Reagan Toal, Federal Brace

24. “We want our customers to feel valued, cherished, and significant because without them we literally wouldn’t have a job! It’s important to us that they feel this way every time they interact with us, so we send a handwritten thank you note with each order. Spending a few extra minutes to write a personalized, meaningful message is a powerful way to communicate worth to the recipient. It demonstrates that they matter and shows our authentic gratitude.” — Carrie Seibert, Soap Commander, LLC

25. “There are three things that I do regularly to thank my clients. I send them thank you notes during the year (instead of at the beginning of our business relationship). I also send a small plant that they can keep on their desk that they can watch grow, just like their business. I also send the plant around October or mid-November rather than at the holidays when everyone is sending out gifts to their clients. I want them to know that I’m thankful and appreciative all the time, not just at the holidays. Finally, I send all my clients who refer me to new clients a gift — usually yummy food like chocolate dipped strawberries!” — Jennifer Martin, Zest Business Consulting

26. “We treat everyone exactly has we would love to be treated. We own a 1,000 square foot retail bakery, so we spend A LOT of time with our employees. We care for them like we would our own kids and we make sure they know that their school, work, and family come first. We always provide lunch and/or dinner if we are all working hard during the holiday rush. We consider a lot of their opinions when making big decisions about our store. For our customers, we give away pies, we take the time to listen to what is going on with them and always remember to ask after their kids, pets, jobs, etc. Above all, we never take our employees or our customers for granted. We couldn’t do any of this without them!” — Rebecca Miller, Peggy Jean’s Pies

27. “Giving thanks is especially important as a small business owner, because without the hard work of your employees or the loyalty of your customers, you won’t be holding the title of Business Owner for much longer. We show thanks to our customers a couple of different ways. For starters, each delivery comes with a free, reusable travel bag. A small, free product or sample can go a great length in building rapport with your customers. It also has the benefit of increasing our brand awareness and marketing.

We also highlight our customers on Instagram as another way we show thanks and appreciation! Not only do we regram some of our favorite user shots, like this one, but we also have an embedded stream on our website too. Sharing the spotlight with your customers is a great way to show appreciation and connect with your audience.” — Matt Edstrom, BioClarity

28. “I send them a Spoil! I can send same-day hand-delivered items to anyone in the United States. Flowers, doughnuts, macaroons, candles, to bring a smile and say ‘thank you.’ Super easy to do and increases the amount of happiness in the world — works well on the wife, too!” — Mike Scanlin, Born To Sell

29. “As a small business a great way to show thanks is by celebrating each employee and showing that their presence within the company is valued. A great way to do this is by recognizing their small accomplishments within the company as well as personal life events. We like to celebrate all sorts of things from birthdays to closed deals. One way we encourage employees is through a weekly offering social media contests, where salespeople can win based their mentions of the company in their social media platforms. The winners are given gift cards and recognized at weekly team meetings. We also love to have a birthday cake and gather the whole team each time someone has a birthday. Celebrating your employees, especially in a small business, provides value and a certain culture that promotes growth on a small scale.” — Sarah Peterson, TripleMint

30. “One of my favorite parts of our company culture is to show thanks to employees on a weekly basis. We have an all hands meeting once a week, and we finish the meeting by ‘giving props’, which is recognizing people on the team for their accomplishments that week. Anyone on the team can give props to anyone else on the team, which fosters an atmosphere of appreciation and teamwork. For example, someone who noticed another employee doing a great job with a particularly difficult customer, might ‘give props’ to that person and recognize them in front of the group as having done something great. It’s a great way to be thankful and show appreciation as a group for all the accomplishments of the week, and make sure everyone gets recognized for their contributions.” — Steve Benson, Badger Maps

31. “I think it’s important to show thanks to everyone in your ecosystem (customers, suppliers, investors, evangelists, advisors, community, etc.) but employees are the foundation a small business is built on so it’s critical to make sure they feel appreciated. Gifts and special events are welcomed, but thanking someone doesn’t have to be a huge production. A reference on LinkedIn is an awesome thing to do for an employee, especially when they aren’t requesting or expecting it. It takes only a few minutes, it’s free, and it will make them feel great and show their value to their entire network for years to come.” — Jacob Dayan, Community Tax + Finance Pal

32. “In the bridal business, we are all about service and loving our customers! With our brides we gift them a wifey tank after they find their bridal dress and they love it! At our store, we love featuring them on our social media and literally thanking them for being a part of our family. On the flip side, I couldn’t survive without my employees. I love motivating them and thanking them by hosting fun contests and group goals with prizes like a dinner out together, movie night, or items like purses, gift cards and cash! Every year we throw a big holiday party, play games, enjoy an amazing dinner, and just have fellowship and fun outside of the store; we look forward to it all year round!” — Jessica Limeberry, Sophia’s Bridal, Tux and Prom

33. “Unexpected, exceptional customer service should be every business’s best practice. We came up with an idea to tap into our customer’s soul through their pets. When a homeowner signs up for our service we gather information on if they have pets, and if so what are their names. We do this so our lawn vendors know to be careful when entering the lawn. We decided we could use this info about our customer to send a personalized gift to our customers’ pet, addressed to them. This really wowed our customers, we received personal thank you notes, videos of their dog chewing the bone we sent posted to FB and thank you tweets, it worked really well for the time and money we invested.” — Gene Caballero, GreenPal

34. “I have been very blessed in my 30+ years as a boutique business owner in the arts. My clients and my students stay with me and I have created tribes of like-minded people. I often give my clients complimentary photo sessions or complimentary one-on-one educational sessions with my students. I would say over 70% of my students and clients are repeats. We are a huge part of each other’s lives.” Laurie Klein

35. “As a small business, the most meaningful way we show thanks is by giving back. We give back to our customers by offering discounts, giveaways, and information that improve the health of their small pets. We give back to our employees and partners by sharing with them profits (bonuses, incentives) and supporting them in maintaining a work life balance.” — Billy Gordon, Owner, Small Pet Select

36. “I show appreciation to customers and partners by acknowledging them on my website

and/or social media. Everyone wants to rank at the top of search engine result pages but few small business owners can afford the time and monetary investment needed to be successful. Two things that really help them begin to gain traction are links and exposure – things I can easily and comfortably give away provided their company provides superior goods and/or services. If a highly reputable customer or partner has been a particular pleasure to work with, I will thank him or her by providing a link from my website to theirs, or an open and honest review on social media.” — Donna Duncan, B-SeenOnTop

37. “Every year we send a small, under $50 gift to our top partners, customers and associates. This year we’re sending out dog water bottles with our logo on them. These little Holiday gifts may not be flashy, but they go a long way to building relationships and showing our thanks for their support.” — Nick Braun,

38. “In addition to mailing handwritten thank you cards to first time customers, I email branded digital thank you notes or mail $5-$20 gift cards to vendors and partners who help move the business forward with referrals and other leads/opportunities. Customers who pay in full, on or ahead of time are given a lagniappe (a little extra) serving of what they’ve ordered, like two extra digital assets or an extra half hour of consulting free of charge.” — Isha Edwards EPiC Measures, LLC

39. “We try to show our gratitude to staff all year round, not just at the annual Christmas party. We offer day trips for families to places like amusement parks and beauty spots, as well as team-building exercises such as go-karting. There’s also a well-established reward scheme, from one-off rewards such as high street vouchers for staff who have excelled at a particular job, to pay rises for those who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty.” — Darren Green, Roller Blinds Direct

40. “As a small business, it can seem overwhelming when you are figuring a way to give thanks. Remember that most people will be happy with just a small gesture. We show thanks to our employees firstly by having regular team meetings and sharing staff successes with the entire team. Secondly, we make a couple of small gestures throughout the year allowing our staff to take their birthday off as paid leave and every year on their anniversary as thanks for being a loyal staff member we send a gift card that they can spend on themselves. A couple of small things that go a long way to staff happiness.” — Anna O’Toole, seoWorks

41. “I’ve had success showing my gratitude towards our tour guides by not only the more traditional routes such as team dinners and one-on-one feedback, but by also publicly acknowledging how good of a job they have been doing. I encourage our tour guests to mention their guide’s name in positive reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, Facebook & Yelp. The biggest thank you that I can show our guides? When we have a negative review and I respond by publicly backing our guides.” — Jeff Mikos, Free Chicago Walking Tours

42. “As entrepreneurs and small business owners, we have a lot to be thankful for. How we show thanks takes many forms depending on who the target audience is for that expression of gratitude – customer, employees, partners etc. I want to focus on our most important constituency that keeps our business operating at the high standard we have set over the past seven years – our employees. Our thanks to our staff comes everyday across the year in many forms including by us creating and fostering a culture focused on excellence, collegiality and respect. Celebrating team successes and individual efforts is also a critical component of showing thanks. In a more tangible form, as we approach the holiday season, we also give additional profit shares to each full-time member of our team.” — Alex Haimann, Less Annoying CRM

43. “I’ve found with small businesses that the most effective way to show appreciation to employees is by giving gift certificates, weekend getaways, or airline tickets. Though these are not monetary rewards, I believe that they boost morale among employees. Employees are not always looking for that monetary reward, but rather, they want to know that I appreciate them for going above and beyond expectations and responsibilities. By giving these monthly or quarterly rewards, it helps employees to feel valued for the work that they do.” — Jerry Maynard, The Maynard Group

44. “As a small business owner, there wouldn’t be a business without customers and a team of great co-workers. To show appreciation for clients, we send a gift after the completion of a project or service. We use a company that sends a tin of homemade chocolate chip cookies with a card that has our branding and logo that tells them that our recipe for success is clients like them. On the back of the card is the recipe for the cookies that they received so it is something that they can keep. We always get great feedback from clients about that gift and it is a good way to say thank you.” — Deanna Arnold, Employers Advantage LLC

45. “I am thankful every day that I own my own business and am able to have my own hours and enjoy going to work every day. In addition, I show thanks to my employees in a number of different ways, by being flexible, by having a fun work environment, by giving bonuses and extra gift cards throughout the year, and good personal time off. For my customers, we just make sure to have a great, quality product, and send them thank you’s as well as discount codes/offers on a regular basis.” — Georgette Blau, On Location Tours

46. “By being open and communicating openly. Just being available in person, or responding quickly via email or social media, to thank someone for something specific to them, can go a long ways in showing how thankful you are of them. It may not cost any money, but it does take time and thoughtfulness, and since those are things that are in scarce supply, it also means it resonates more with people.” — John Turner, QuietKit

47. “Our business isn’t much without the hard work of our staff. We show them our gratitude by *sharing our profits* twice yearly, with extra allocations for long-tenured employees. It’s our way of recognizing their critical role in keeping us afloat. And of course we’re incredibly thankful for our amazing customers, who are responsible for everything we have today. We love to send a nice bottle of whiskey and a few shot glasses, because what’s better than a drink after you’ve completed your timesheet after a long week?” — Alex Mann, ClickTime

48. “As a small business owner, one of my top priorities is showing thanks to our hardworking employees. We aim to give our employees creative freedom and involve them in all aspects on the business and its dealings. A team-lead culture club plans group activities and ensures all employees are in good spirits. I like to create a team atmosphere where we all work together towards a common goal– for example, if we achieve our yearly monetary goal for next year, I’m going to take all of my team members and their families to Disneyland.” — Adam Stoker, Sorenson Advertising

49. “I like to send out thank yous, birthday wishes, holidays, etc. using Send Out Cards which is essentially like customized bulk mail. It inputs my client’s name and other personal info and then it writes the cards in my actual handwriting. When I have a really important offer that I think they’ll be interested in, I send them lumpy mail which is basically a piece of mail that contains some little nick-nack that makes it lumpy. The lumpiness means that they can’t put any other mail on top of it. Plus, when they open it, it’s eye-catching. Basically, I like to zig when everyone else zags.” — Ed Brancheau, Goozleology Digital Marketing

50. “This month, we are showing thanks to the people who have served in the Armed Forces. To show our gratitude, we’ve created the #MilitaryLoveEnclosed campaign. For every Knickergram newsletter sign up during the month of November, Enclosed will donate $1 to the charity Operation Homefront, which helps military families across the country.” — Claire Alezraa,

51. “From gift baskets, movie theater or amusement park tickets, or spa days for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. to subsidizing virtual pizza parties or coffee breaks (we hold a video chat while enjoying our treats as a way to connect more personally), we find that employees are very appreciative to be recognized and rewarded even in small ways. I also send homemade gifts, like backyard blackberry jam, to clients and business partners for the holidays.” — Erika Montgomery, Three Girls Media

52. “At the close of every business meeting, hold a gratitude meeting and take time to share what you’re thankful for. It could be a client that is new to your company, something one of your employees did, or a celebration that sales are up. Send notes or make quick phone calls to share your gratitude with those who have made an impact on your business. You’ll be surprised at how that focus will change the dynamics of your business.

Appreciate your employees, as they can make or break your staffing budget. Taking care of them will increase loyalty and increase productivity. Order in pizza on Friday or pass out gift cards to a local coffee shop for a job well done. A little appreciation goes a long way in building company culture.

As an entrepreneur, you work long hours to get your business off the ground. This can be taxing on family life. Take one day each week just to devote to family time. Take off the boss hat and just enjoy some down time refilling your energy tank so you can be more productive at work.” — Grainne Kelly, BubbleBum

53. “We just started operations in September 2016. Before we went live, we had already designed and printed post cards to send to any customers that shop with us. We hand write a note on these postcards ourselves and mail them one to weeks after our products have shipped to thank our customers. Separately, we make sure to stay in touch with our customers via email and extend special offers and discounts to them.” — Niam Itani, Snazzy Bazaar

54. “As a small business owner I believe you show thanks to your employees and customers. In the servicing industry you want to make sure your staff is happy so they can spread the happy to your customers. First, develop incentive programs (Ex: employee of the month) this will keep them focused, excited and hardworking knowing they have the opportunity to earn an additional bonus for doing their job. Lastly, create loyal programs for your customers so they can feel appreciated, excited and obligated to keep coming back knowing they are racking up points to earn a reward or a free service.” — Teychenne Whitley, Milk and Cookies Kids Spa & Salon