The Union Club of Cleveland’s Lawrence McFadden, CMC, GM/COO, takes time each day to write and send a note of gratitude.
How much does a simple, impactful thank you note cost?
Most likely the price of a first-class stamp which is 55¢. If you want to be first class, you must learn how to act that way in every aspect of your life, which includes writing thank you notes.
I learned this lesson as a young boy when my mother would encourage me to write thank you notes after Christmas.
Looking back, I wonder if she was teaching my brothers and I a lesson in personal development while challenging us to find time in our busy days to write grandma these notes. Without my mother’s persistence, I doubt these notes would have ever been written.
The practice of writing thank you notes was re-introduced into my professional life in 1997 when I joined Ritz Carlton. A first-class card was presented to us during orientation. The concept was to send your peer, colleague, assistant or guest a simple recognition. The cards were provided by human resources and cost us nothing. The time it took to write the cards was well worth it since traditionally they were hung in offices with pride by those who received them. It turned out my mother, who worked for Ritz, was right. Writing thank you notes is worth the time.
I must admit, I had my doubts when I thought about all the time it would take me to write the notes. I attempted to justify not doing it because, after all, weren’t these people getting paid to do what they do? Why waste time or expense? When was the last time anyone sent me a thank you note? All of these thoughts cease once you place pen to paper, seal that envelope and hand it off with pride.
Over my professional career, experiencing many forms of appreciation with several companies, first-class cards are easy to execute, and stand the test of time. Maybe because it reminds me of childhood memories instilled in me by my mother to “gift” the card. There is beauty in its simplicity. You don’t have to explain it. You just write a note and send it off.
Why not send an email, text or call instead? Because it’s not the same as the emotional impact you place on the recipient when you take the time to mail a hand-written note. It lets the individual know you dedicated a few moments to thinking about them. Emails can be filed, read or deleted since you are imposing yourself on the receiver’s screen.
Isn’t opening a letter or package more meaningful? Emotionally, it takes me back to my childhood when I received mail that was addressed just to me.
While moving for the umpteenth time, I came across a box of unwritten thank you notes from a previous company. I sat down and studied the cards, and memories flooded back as I reflected on my journey. It’s impressive to me that a simple card can strike such deep emotions.
I was on the receiving end of one of these types of cards last year when our current Director of Food and Beverage wrote us a thank you following an interview. When I opened the envelope, there was a picture of our club lobby printed on the front with a special appreciation for our time. The woman interviewed well, had great talent, and this last piece of engagement sealed the deal.
Today, I’ve gotten into the habit of sending daily cards, gifts or notes to someone on my staff or occasionally to a professional. Recently, I gifted a photography book to a local professional and a leadership book to an American Culinary Federation colleague. I also sent thank you notes to my doctor and an organization which allowed me to speak on its behalf.
The cards and gifts are small gestures that stand the test of time. I was reminded of this recently on Facebook when a past cook posted a first-class card from me which I had given him 20 years ago. It’s evidence that being first class never goes out of style.