can take it up a notch by hiring caterers
to set up an ice cream social. “That’s
kind of unique and different and would
certainly make people remember you,”
Host a customer appreciation event
with a speaker. Sargent once brought in a
professional organizer to talk about organizing offices. “A lot of people wouldn’t
necessarily spend money to hire a professional organizer for themselves, but
they certainly could benefit from an
hour talk on tips and advice,” she says.
Give items that are relevant to your
business but aren’t overly promotional.
For instance, an auto dealership sent a
safety multitool that recipients could keep
in their cars, resulting in incredible feedback because it was so useful.
Mail handwritten thank-you notes.
“I suggest in most situations a handwrit-
ten note is more of a gift than that box
of chocolates is because [recipients] keep
it, and it allows them to understand your
connection to them,” says etiquette
expert Cynthia Lett. “That means a lot to
—Costco member Mindy Charski
is a Dallas-based freelancer
(@mindycharski on Twitter).
say identity theft is
always occurring, but
they see an increase
during the holidays.
15 million U.S. residents
have their identities used
fraudulently each year; the
total financial loss is more than $50
billion. Costco member Erik Knight,
a 20-year veteran of the security/tech
industry and president of Simple Wan
( simplewan.com), a provider of cloud-
based security routers, offers these
tips for businesses.
Hire a professional
IT vendor. You need
a firm that knows
about proper security
procedure and threat
Don’t wait until
things break. Make sure
your IT infrastructure is kept up-to-date,
audited and tested for security holes
monthly. The people who don’t do this
are easy targets.
Follow industry compliance and
rules to the letter. If a breach happens
and a company is not found to be in compliance, it may be banned from running
credit cards again and have to pay fees
Purchase data breach insurance.
A few years ago you couldn’t even buy
such a thing, but research by insurance
groups indicates almost 90 percent of all
businesses will be required to have it by
2020. All major carriers carry data breach
insurance. Cost is related to risk. Your
insurance company will ask you to complete a risk assessment questionnaire
to come up with a price. It is very reasonable in most cases.
Move technology to cloud-based
services. It is not 2003 anymore, and
having almost any type of server on the
premises of a business is a major security
risk. It should be moved to the cloud to be
managed by professional cloud providers.
For instance, Google Apps and
Microsoft’s Office 365—both
of which are cloud-based—
handle email, phones and
all of the familiar office
apps, removing them
from a company’s point
of business. C
Six ways to thank
during the holidays
HOW DID SANTA grow what is possibly the
most efficient manufacturing and distribution business in the world? Costco member
Eric Harvey, a business-resource professional
and author of The Leadership Secrets of
Santa Claus ( walkthetalk.com), caught up
with the jolly old elf and came away with
these simple tips on how he keeps his
operations humming year-round.
Select your reindeer wisely.
Recruit, select and promote the right
individuals for the right reasons. It is a
much better investment of time to “hire
tough” as opposed to trying to fix
a personnel issue later.
Listen to your elves. Look
for opportunities to involve your
elves in important decisions.
Understand issues and decisions from
Santa Claus’ leadership secrets
their point of view. Pay close attention to how
you are perceived by them.
Go beyond little red
wagons. Even if we have
spent years perfecting the
manufacture of red wag-
ons, if children now want
high-tech video games
instead, we need to make
that transition. Ultimately
our customers determine
the success of our efforts.
Give them gifts that
last. Teach success skills to
everyone on your team; create
positive relationships between
team members and push ways
that will increase co-worker pride
and professionalism. C
SHOWING APPRECIATION to your customers over the holidays is a nice thing
to do, and it can also help you build loyalty
and create awareness. “It’s a good time to
say, ‘This is that time of year we’re all
thinking about other people, and we just
want to let you know that your relationship
is really important to us,’” says business
growth consultant and Costco member
Gifts don’t have to be expensive, but
they should be sincere and meaningful.
Consider these six approaches.
Make a gift. Costco member Gail
Cooksey sends annual calendars featuring
her watercolor paintings to top clients of
her strategic communications firm. “It
reminds people of me and our company,
it reflects the creativity of our company,
it’s something that lasts all year and it’s
something I created,” Cooksey says.
Donate to an organization dear to
your customer. If you know someone
is passionate about helping animals, for
example, making a donation to a local shelter would likely be well received. “That’s
a lot more personal than just saying,
‘We’ve picked this charity, and we’re doing
a blanket donation in the name of all our
customers,’” Sargent says.
Bring food into a client’s office.
Breakfasts and lunches can be big hits. You