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With the current hunker-down recommendations surrounding the worsening coronavirus pandemic, showroom traffic and face-to-face meetings for your sales team could be zilch.

Dealers need to utilize other means of staying in contact with customers, especially those in the north who will be facing normal spring launching time shortly.

Every dealer is undoubtedly thinking about using social media or email. These can be useful tools depending on content and frequency. But under the current circumstances, it’s a very good time to purposely stand out from the crowd — a post or email won’t always get that done. Dealers wanting to hit a home run should opt for the good old thank you note.

So says Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work.

“Whenever someone does something nice for you,” explains Whitmore, “it’s always a good idea to show your appreciation. However, if you want to stand out from the crowd, don’t send a text or email. Send a handwritten note instead.”

A handwritten correspondence could be remindful of one of David Copperfield’s legendary acts of illusion. Says Whitmore: “Don’t you remember the excitement of receiving a card or letter through the mail? It was tangible, handwritten in the script of the sender. You enjoyed holding it and how it felt. A handwritten note reminds us that someone cares enough to take time to think of us.”

Handwritten notes can have the same powerful impact today.

Stop shaking your head and thinking “good grief!” We’re not suggesting dealers start handwriting thank you notes to their full customer list.

Rather, review your list(s) carefully. Have staff in departments identify their best customers, the ones who have boats in storage with you, who regularly spend money in the store, dock in your marina or are steady service customers. They are the ones you should most appreciate.

We’re not talking about writing a novel. The note should be short and sweet. If, for example, a customer’s boat is in winter storage, you might say: “Just to say how grateful we are for your loyalty to us. Be assured we’re looking out for you, studying launch prospects, and will keep you fully informed. Best wishes.”

Or for a sales prospect: “Just to say we’re here for you as you consider buying your new boat. If you have questions, please call me directly anytime at (number).”

Here’s six tips from Whitmore for penning those important thank-you notes:

Purchase quality stationery: You’ll be more apt to write a quick thank-you note if you have nice note cards on hand. Go the extra mile and purchase fold-over or correspondence cards embossed with your own name.

Make message relevant: Forget the tired “we appreciate your business.” Write a few words that mean you’re looking out for their interest. Or, reference a time they made an impact on you to make your message personal and heartfelt.

No need for elegance: A simply written note makes more connection than awkward formality. Write as if you were speaking to the recipient in person.

Do it yourself: A sincere thank you shouldn’t be outsourced to an assistant or some online service. Don’t blow your opportunity to shore up your customer relationships with some obvious canned speak.

Always handwritten: Don’t have great penmanship? No matter. Your message will be felt through your words regardless of how your handwriting looks.

Use a good sign-off: In business letters, you generally sign “Sincerely” or “Best regards.” But a personal note deserves a more intimate send-off. Use a warmer closing like: “With sincere appreciation” or “Yours truly,” then sign your name.

In tough times like we could be facing going forward, reassuring customers you care and are looking out for them has never been more important. Taking time to send a handwritten note will carry far more significance that some cookie-cutter email or text.

Related

Quick Hits: April 1, 2020

Fairline scales back operations due to COVID-19 pandemic. NMMA Webinar: How the Stimulus Package Helps Boating Industry Businesses. Dates for 50th annual Newport International Boat Show announced. 2020 USCG Regulations for Recreational Boats Book now available.