3 Ways To Build Loyalty By Making Clients Feel Appreciated


'Tis always the season to express gratitude. And, to really boost your business in 2017, I suggest showing appreciation 365 days a year. Since day one with Polka Dots & Rosebuds Interiors, I have made it SOP to hold client events, offer gifts and write thank you notes. These personal expressions may seem basic, but they are a key part of referrals and long-time relationships that make a positive impact on my business.

In my networking days, I learned so much about the power of saying thank you. I built Polka Dots & Rosebuds on this principle and have found gratitude to be worthwhile personally and to the bottom line. If you are just starting out and need to be cost-conscious on your offerings, that's completely fine.

There are many budget-friendly stationery and gifting options and the time to write a thank you note is free. Here's my advice for three ways to make clients feel appreciated:

1. Handwritten thank you notes

Our team sends notes after every initial meeting. We have made it a policy to write notes as soon as we are back at the office, so the potential client feels appreciated from the get-go. Branded stationery, notecards showing your hometown and/or state, and cards representative of your industry are options to consider.

We have an annual dinner to thank clients in our hometown of Lexington, KY. This event is a good way to see clients we may not have worked with in a while and show them we are still thinking about them.

2. Client appreciation events

We were honored at this spring's event when a busy CPA told us he felt it was important to take time out from tax prep to attend the dinner with his wife. We have done several projects for this couple and, through forging a genuine friendship, we hope to do more work as their needs change. During the dinner, our team gives a small gift, often branded, for the attendees. Again, just a small token to keep Polka Dots & Rosebuds at the top of mind, such as a branded notepad.

We have clients in more than 25 states, so it's not possible to see every client at our annual dinner. To thank one of our main referrers, a Greek Housing company based in Tennessee, we host their team every fall at the Kentucky landmark, Keeneland Racecourse. This event has become a fun tradition to which everyone looks forward. In addition to the day at the races with lunch and drinks, we also host a couple of dinners and provide gift baskets for attendees during the weekend.

3. Annual gifting

We send client gifts out once per year. It's appropriate to do so at the beginning of a new year in order to avoid being lost in the sea of holiday gifts. We have found the gourmet apples from Mrs. Prindables to be a welcome gift. Logoed Tervis Tumblers are also a gift that it is useful year-round.

If you have an intern or extra staff, ordering and/or wrapping shipments is a good chore. And, many gifting sites have online services for order arranging that you can set up months in advance.

Here's to making your clients feel appreciated.


A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.

Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.