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Giving Thanks

Show appreciation to your most valuable customers.

In this season of giving thanks, who better to shower with an attitude of gratitude than your customers? Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doctor, a Long Beach, California, retail consultant, says Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to show your customers you care. To express your sincere thanks, keep these adjectives in mind.

Exclusive: One of Phibbs' clients held a VIP event for her best customers this past summer, renting out a movie theater for an afternoon showing of the popular sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean. Though the event didn't bring customers into her store, Phibbs says, "It gave her an edge. Everyone wanted to be there, and they remembered it."

Individualized: Instead of sending out a generic pre-printed card, show customers you've really thought about them. For example, Phibbs suggests that a dog groomer could take photographs of her best customers' dogs throughout the year and send them along with handwritten cards.

Personal: Retailers can't spend a lot of one-on-one time with all their customers, but Phibbs says a personal, face-to-face thank you can go a long way. If you have an important customer, stop by his office with cookies, or host a small lunch with a few of your bread-and-butter clients.

Gwen Moran is co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans.

This story appears in the November 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »