7 Ways to Say I Love You Simple expressions of thanks can go a long way toward instilling loyalty with staffers and customers.

By Stacey Alcorn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's a lot to be said for leaders who love their people. When employees or customers feel the love, they rarely peek over the fence to see what other companies are offering. Why would they?

If people feel secure, appreciated and cherished, they have little reason to shop around for something better.

Are you spreading the love to members of your team and your customers? Here are seven simple ways to say, "I love you."

Related: Drive a Feedback Loop: Employees Will Benefit, So Will Your Company

1. Awards.

Employee of the Month, Customer of the Month, Best Dressed, Funniest, Craziest, Best Giver -- you name it and then make an award for it. Find a reason to reward your staff and customers regularly. Who doesn't love a simple dose of recognition? This can be simple as creating a certificate or purchasing a plaque and then recognizing that special person for their awesomeness.

2. Notes.

It takes less than a minute to write a note of recognition to someone you appreciate. A note to a customer can have a message as succinct as this: "I appreciate you. Thank you for your business."

A message to an employee might include a thank-you for a specific task well done. Take a moment to make the effort to send a handwritten token of appreciation. It's likely to go a long way.

3. Gifts.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to give a special gift that shows someone you care. I have a co-worker who visits Starbucks daily, and he always picks up these little cards with free iPhone apps, compliments of Starbucks. He hands me an envelope full of these whenever I see him.

This co-worker knows that my daughter loves playing games on my iPad so he scoops up these free apps. It means the world to me that he's thinking about my family when he's buying his morning java.

4. Spending time.

One great way to say, "I love you" is to take an employee or a customer to lunch. I own a large real estate firm with more than 300 employees and sales team members. Each week I block off time for two lunch dates with my people. That way I can spend 60 to 90 minutes really getting to know what makes them special. You can quickly learn how amazing your staffers are when you take the time to listen to them.

Related: Break Out the Office Cake. It Could Change Your Company.

5. Birthday salutes.

What better way to show a person you care about him or her than by marking a birthday? I'm not talking about wishing someone "Happy birthday" on Facebook where the message can become lost in a stream of dozens of others from well-wishers. I'm suggesting that you send a card or a gift.

A program that I've been using for the past five years is Send Out Cards. It's an automated system that keeps track of birthdays. Each month I log into the system to create a custom card for all my people with birthdays. I send them out along with a gift, like a package of delicious brownies or another type of sweet. One feature that I love is that if I forget to send out a card, I receive an email reminder.

6. Including families.

One of the best ways to show someone you love them is to appreciate their families. Aside from sending birthday brownies to staffers, I give them to the spouses, significant others, kids and grandchildren of my team members on their birthdays, too.

When you hire an employee, you adopt his or her entire family. Or at least that's how I see it. Therefore, showing love means extending it to the family of everyone who makes your company great.

7. Pats on the back.

Last, but certainly not least, there's the good old pat on the back. When you catch a team member or a customer doing something great, reach out by phone or visit in person to say, "You are amazing. Thank you for being you."

These modest steps can make a profound difference in your business. Of course, the greatest paradox in building any business is that the things that are easy to do are also easy not to do. These are basic ideas, yes, but that doesn't make them any less powerful when executed.

Related: 3 Savvy Tips to Help You Better Connect With (and Oversee) Your Staff

Stacey Alcorn

Author and Entrepreneur

Stacey Alcorn is CEO of Boston-based Laer Realty Partners.  She owns and operates several businesses in the Boston area including a consulting firm, a law firm and a fashion line. She is the author of REACH! -- Dream, Stretch, Achieve, Influence.

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