Recognizing the efforts of others can go a long way in life.

I keep a file folder labeled “article ideas.” After writing an abundance of articles, I have to be careful not to be too redundant, although you know I do have some favorite topics! My writing style has always been to be less formal and more personal. My bride of 40 years sometimes encourages me to be less personal – and I’m afraid she’ll think I may have gone overboard with this one.

My entire adult life I have loved the beginning of a new year. Yes, I’m one to make new year’s resolutions – and really try to keep them. The new year always brings new challenges and opportunities. It’s a time to do budgets, marketing and sales plans and to update your short- and long-term business plans (at least for the few of you who do them). I’m sensing more optimism entering 2012 than I have for the past several years. Being the eternal optimist, I start every year feeling good…and this year is no exception.

So here’s one of my 2012 resolutions. I’m going to try and write a thank-you note to someone every day of the year. Some will be to family, friends and those folks I work with and for. Other notes will be to someone who, in my opinion, has done something special, unique and different. I am not doing this to get a response back. I’m doing it to say, “I love you,” “You’re terrific,” “Thanks for a job well done,” or maybe just “Thanks for being my friend.”

Interestingly enough, I’ve received a half-dozen notes, calls and comments thanking me for the nice note. The bonus: It feels good! Here are a couple examples: 

Jan. 1– Note to my wife. She’s the best. Really the best!

Jan. 2-5– Notes to each of our kids – all unique and special in their own ways!

Jan. 9– Note to a local tire company thanking them for the great hustle!

Jan. 13– Note to my mother-in-law to tell her how great she is! She cried.

Jan. 22– Note to a DPHA industry leader thanking him for his contribution to our great industry!

Jan. 28– Note to a manager at our local Home Depot for special effort by one of his employees.

In addition to resolutions and now these notes, the beginning of a new year is a great time to say thanks for what went on in 2011. I hope you’ll be able to identify more good than bad. In my case, my health continues to be outstanding; I completed a 1,600-mile bicycle journey; all our kids and their families are doing terrific; our bank account is holding steady; we’re bringing our soldiers home; the economy is improving…and so much more. We are so incredibly blessed.

Showroom thanks

So, you’re getting the idea. Will I be able to stay on track with the thank-you notes? I hope so. I know you’re asking, “What does this have to do with showrooms?” Allow me to share just a few thoughts:

  • Say thank you to your boss and the owner/president of your company. Thank them for the opportunity to work there and have a job. There are millions of folks in our country that don’t have jobs. The owner(s) of your business have taken a huge risk – investing in inventories, showroom displays and all the very expensive things it takes to run a successful business. All the bosses have taken on not only authority, but also big responsibility. It’s their job to create a healthy, happy, productive and profitable environment. It’s not easy! I’ve been there and done that. So shock ’em and send a sincere note of thanks.

  • Take time to say thanks to everyone on your work team. Without them you wouldn’t succeed. This includes folks in purchasing, receiving and shipping, delivery, accounting and yes, maybe even the janitorial and landscape folks that keep the place looking and feeling good. Sure, as you go around saying thank you, some of the team members will think you’re nuts. But I promise you, they’ll appreciate the kind words.

  • You work with customers day in and day out, but other than a casual “verbal” thank you, how often do you write a personalized note of thanks? Or, maybe even send a small thank-you gift? There are so many ways you can say thank you to your customers. They are the lifeblood of your business!

  • Then you have all those vendor partners. Some are better than others. Again, it takes a team on the vendor side to support you. When’s the last time you extended a really sincere thank you to your local rep that calls on you? Take them out to breakfast or lunch. Write them a note. Write their boss a note praising the local rep. Almost every vendor has a customer service department. Send a note to someone that has done a job above and beyond the average. Heck, send a note to the owner/president and share a good experience. I know you’re good at beating up on the reps and the factories when they disappoint you, so take at least as much time to praise the good things. 

  • Do you participate in any business/industry-related activities? There are lots of opportunities to network and spread the word on why folks should consider doing business with you and your company. Our company was active in NKBA, ASID, AIA, NARI and BIA, the local chamber of commerce and several philanthropic organizations. Thank the volunteers who contribute their time and energy to those organizations. You also have a wonderful opportunity to “give back” through them.

  • Then, of course, there is your family. Without their support, help and understanding it would be difficult to succeed. When’s the last time you said “thanks” to your spouse or significant other? Don’t forget your kids, parents, in-laws and anyone else that makes your life a bit easier and more enjoyable.

  • And all you bosses out there, when’s the last time you said “thanks for a job well done?” I know you find time to criticize, critique, coach and discipline. I also know that in the heat of battle, it’s hard to carve out a moment to extend a little (or big) thank you. I would encourage you to make a new year’s resolution to do a better job of saying thank you to that wonderful team of folks that work hard day in and day out to make you look good. Remember the old saying that “little things mean a lot”? I promise the rewards that you will receive in improved morale and productivity will outweigh the time it took you to extend those words of thanks!

  • Count your blessings

    I have been/am as guilty as many of you in taking so much in life for granted. As I’ve gotten older, I’m finding more time (and maybe the need) to stop and count my blessings. They have been, and are, so numerous that I am humbled. I have lived in the greatest country in the absolute best of times. I was afforded a great education and worked for several large, successful wholesalers (actually four Supply House Times Wholesaler of the Year recipients). We started our own showroom business and were so very fortunate to see the bath and kitchen (and all the great products that go in them) become the main rooms in the home. Then along came a large, successful wholesaler that wanted/needed to get into the showroom business and bought our business. Then my third career just happened! That of consulting, writing, teaching and helping others in the showroom business try to be better at what they do.  Add in a wonderful wife, four terrific kids, four fantastic grandkids and a bunch of great friends and you can see why I’m so thankful. 

    Allow me to close this much too personal article by saying THANK YOU to you the loyal and faithful readers of this excellent publication. I met and became acquainted with the original founder, owner, publisher and editor of Supply House Times way back in 1960. That was about two years after Charlie Horton started the magazine. I was fresh out of the Army and graduate school and had joined one of the aforementioned Wholesaler of the Year companies in a training program.

    Mr. Horton came to Pennsylvania and did an article on the industry’s first college-recruited training program. There was a picture in the magazine with me and eight other bright-eyed, optimistic, excited folks just embarking on our careers. I still have a copy of that magazine. I had hair and a gleam in my eye, but I wonder if I thought I would spend my whole life selling tubs and toilets?

    I have seen wholesaler showrooms grow from a very few in number and pretty poorly done to now being a very important part of many wholesalers’ overall business models. I like to believe that I have played a small part in both the growth of showrooms and how they operate. 

    I’ve had the unique pleasure of meeting and working with many of you. I’m so proud of what you are accomplishing in the operation of your showrooms. They look better. The people are trained better. They are contributing more revenue to the companies’ bottom lines than ever before. They’ve become the “go-to” place for homeowners, designers, architects, builders, remodelers and plumbers for the selection of products for the home. 

    Possibly, the second-biggest THANK YOU (after you readers) should go to the many loyal advertisers. Without them, there would be no magazine. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    So, my thank-you note for Jan. 29, 2012, (when I wrote this) is to you, my wonderful friends in this fabulous industry.

    Have a great 2012!