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Appreciation Season (Part 1)

Let spirit of giving touch your employees, business partners, community

SAN FRANCISCO — During the holiday season, most celebrations center on gratitude. Appreciation for loved ones, friends, customers, employees and community are all manifested in many ways, both publicly and privately, during this period of festivities and commemoration.

Fittingly, this is a worthy time to express your appreciation as well. In addition to being magnanimous, the visibility created by your activities will keep your drycleaning business and your generosity “top of mind” as customers and prospects need your products and services.

The natural starting point for your kindness, of course, is your family and friends, but let’s look beyond your private circle to the broader context of your business and community relationships.


This is an excellent time to show your employees your appreciation for their contributions throughout the year.

This need not be an ultra-expensive endeavor. As you contemplate what will delight your team, remember that different people respond to different forms of recognition.

Depending upon your understanding of, and depth of knowledge of, your associates, you can make meaningful gifts and awards that are based on creativity, imagination and inspiration.

Acknowledgment of a job well done, a thank-you for long-term loyalty and service, or an indication that you care about them as individuals goes a long way to keeping them happy in your company and motivated to continue to do a good job for you and your customers.

Richard Aviles of Bridge Cleaners and Tailors and also King Cleaners in New York takes a straightforward approach to this process by asking his employees about their interests, aspirations and dreams in a personalized survey.

He has found the results to be invaluable in getting to know and understand his associates better and for designing and providing meaningful incentives, awards and gifts for his individual contributors.

Referencing a “motivation wheel” (of which you can find many examples on the Internet), here are some effective gifts and rewards that fit into the various categories, such as:

Public Recognition and Management Feedback: The employees that appreciate this the most are often the reliable ones that do their jobs quietly and dependably with little fanfare. Take a cue from their demeanor and personality to ensure they don’t get embarrassed at the presentation.

Public recognitions might be: years of dedicated service; a “team leadership” award; perfect attendance; or “above and beyond effort” (for a customer, fellow employee, or the company) commendation. This is also a good time to make a big deal of the sales contest winners and their efforts.

Growth Opportunities: Some of your people are ambitious for advancement. Public announcements of deserving promotions for the new year can make the person being promoted feel valued and make the entire team feel involved in the company’s future.

Money: Of course money is appreciated, especially during the gift-giving season when budgets are stretched. To make a gift of cash more meaningful, consider a gift card that relates to their personal interests so the gift is specifically for them as opposed to being added to their general family account.

Benefits: If you have been considering adding to the employee benefits in the form of insurance, vacation, 401(k), etc., now is a good time to make the announcement.

Peer Pressure and Competition: Competition and contests can be powerful motivators. Present the awards and rewards in a group forum and make a big deal of each really meaningful contribution, both by individuals and by staff teams. Keep the excitement and the competition going.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].