I am writing this right before Thanksgiving, so gratitude is on my mind. But this topic of gratitude and more specifically of thank you notes is appropriate all year long in our lives and in our real estate businesses.
If you apply the use of thank you notes consistently, it can not only boost your real estate profits, but also make you and others much happier (I will share the science that backs that up.)
My grandmother used to remind me often to write thank you notes. I bet some of the older generation folks in your life did, too. She reminded me that expressing thanks completes the loop of a gift given to you.
At my best, I’ve tried to carry this lesson forward in my life and in my real estate business. I carry thank you notes around in my planner so that I can write one whenever I have a few spare minutes. When I stick to this practice consistently, I am amazed at how much the simple act creates waves of good results, both in terms of feeling good and in more tangible business metrics.
This year, I have fallen off of my thank you note habit, but one of my goals for next year is to write at least 3 thank you notes per week. Do you want to join me by setting a thank you note goal as well? If so, let me know in the comments at the bottom.
In the rest of this article, I will try to convince you how powerful this practice is. I will also help you get started applying the habit in your business.
Science Shows That Gratitude Makes Us Happier
Before we get into the profitability of thank you notes, I want to share some fascinating scientific evidence that simple practices of gratitude, like writing thank you notes, can actually make you happier.
I do a lot of reading about the emerging field of positive psychology. Some of my favorite thinkers on the subject are:
- Tal Ben Shahar, former professor at Harvard; books include: Happier and Being Happy
- Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor at Cal – Riverside; books include: The How of Happiness
- Martin Seligman, professor at University of Pennsylvania; books include: Learned Optimism
Really intelligent people at universities around the country and around the world have sought to verify things that lead to more personal happiness and well being. From the wealth of literature on the subject, it turns out that one of the most powerful associations is between happiness and gratitude.
In one of the most well-known studies, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami asked participants to each write something in a journal every week during a 10-week study.
The first group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for from the previous week. The second group was asked to write down things from the previous week that irritated or displeased them. The third group was asked to just write down things from the previous week.
After 10 weeks, the first group was measurably happier and felt better about their lives than the other two groups. Even more, the first group also exercised an average of 1.5 hours more and had fewer visits to the doctor!
Related: We Are So Incredibly Fortunate
There are many more studies like this one, and they suggest some specific applications of this principle connection between gratitude and happiness, including:
- Gratitude journaling, either daily or weekly like in the study
- Verbalizing appreciation to people like your spouse, kids, employees, and tenants
- Saying thanks before a meal
- Writing thank you notes (which boosts your happiness and the happiness of the person who receives the letter)
In the rest of this article, I will show how thank you notes can make you money in addition to making you happy.
How Thank You Notes Can Be Extremely Profitable
One of my favorite marketing minds, Seth Godin, has this basic marketing rule:
Remarkable means people “remark” about you. First, you make a positive impression, and then they spread the word without further advertising dollars on your part.
A lot of standard marketing tries to be remarkable, but it is often impersonal and even cheesy and sleazy. In addition, it is often focused on acquiring new customers from cold lists or with broad, shotgun techniques.
Instead, a simple focus on gratitude and thank you notes as a core business strategy can help you nourish existing relationships, which in the long run will make you much more money than constantly finding new sellers, new tenants, new lenders, or new contractors. It will also do it in a way that is authentic and feels good.
I have found in my own business that my most valuable assets have not been buildings. My core wealth has been these long term, trusting relationships. There are no shortcuts to building these relationships, but you can certainly make small deposits that build up over time.
One of our consistent deposits is a yearly gift of holiday goodies (usually my home state South Carolina pecans) to a list of our private lenders and key business relationships. We of course also include a short note of thanks.
In part because of this kind of practice, we have done repeat business with just a small group of private lenders. This has made us thousands and thousands of dollars in profits because their money was consistently available to us to buy good deals. We’ve also saved thousands more by getting lower interest rates than we would have with hard money lenders.
But lenders are not the only valuable long term relationship. Think about other possibilities.
I have referral sources for deals who have consistently thought of me and sent me leads for years. This consistent flow of leads and deals means I rarely have to market as heavily as my competition to buy properties.
Although my working relationships with suppliers and contractors have been far from perfect, I can say that their consistent and reliable labor and supplies have made us a lot of money. I spend less time finding or retraining new people, and I can more reliably outsource work to others.
What about tenants if you’re a landlord? Without reliable, well-paying tenants, your rental properties are just sticks and bricks — not profitable assets. A consistent message of thanks to your tenants, like a card at Thanksgiving or Christmas, can make a difference in whether they stay longer with you or move somewhere else.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the connection between profitability and gratitude. In the next section, I will share 5 specific ways you can apply this habit to your real estate business.
5 Ways to Use Thank You Notes Daily in Your Real Estate Business
I hope these will give you plenty of ideas as you join me in a goal of writing at least 3 thank you notes per week next year. Of course, there are many more applications ,so I also hope you’ll share them with me and everyone else in the comments section below.
Idea #1: Thank You Notes to Tenants at Move-In
The first part of a relationship often sets the tone for everything else that will come. So why not start off well with your tenants?
As many smart landlords will tell you, training the tenant about your rules and expectations up front is very important. But both my little kids and my tenants have taught me that people tend to listen and abide by rules more when they respect you and when they know you care.
A positive experience up front with a handwritten thank you note can be the first step in a positive relationship. We also send out a monthly print newsletter along with a rent invoice, and in our newsletter are quotes, recipes, and other helpful information.
Our goal is to have positive interactions that outweigh the negative (rule enforcement) interactions by a large multiple.
Idea #2: Thank You Notes After Buy or Sell Closings
Getting to a closing is a time to celebrate and be thankful! There are many people you can write a thank you note to, including:
- The seller or the buyer (the person on the other side of the table from you)
- The closing attorney (required for closings in my state) and paralegal
- The title agent (more common in some states)
- The mortgage broker, banker, or private lender who funded you or your buyer
- The real estate agent(s)
Try to do these notes within 7 days of the closing. This will tap into and prolong the good feeling from the closing.
Idea #3: Thank You Notes to Seller Prospects After a Meeting
I have found sellers rarely say “yes” to my offer right away. So immediately after meeting and especially after making an offer to them, I like to send a thank you note for their time and for their consideration of my offer. I don’t know for sure that this practice makes the difference, but I do have a very high closing ratio.
Idea #4: Thank You Notes to Prospective Lenders (Private or Bankers)
Handling money is certainly serious business, but serious does not have to mean cold and lifeless. When you meet a prospective lender, when you apply for a loan, and even when you get rejected, send a thank you note. Even with bankers who have strict guidelines, you will find that the little things like this that demonstrate character matter a lot.
Idea #5: Thank You Notes and Holiday Gifts
I already mentioned this idea earlier in the article, but it’s worth repeating. On several occasions when I paid off my seller financing lenders, one of the first things they asked me was, “Am I still going to get the Christmas goodies from you?!” Isn’t that amazing?
Gifts and gratitude are not ordinary. They will make you more remarkable. Invest in activities that make you more remarkable, and you will experience returns for years.
Your Turn to Be Thankful
I hope you’re convinced that practices of gratitude will boost your happiness and your profits. Now it’s your turn to transfer the idea into practice.
I’d also love to hear your comments below.
What specific gratitude practices will you begin? Are there any other ways to apply the use of thank you notes in your real estate business? Do you have any stories to share about thank you notes?