The Power of “Lagniappe”

“A little something extra” is a different way to show your appreciation.

The charming custom of giving lagniappe continues today in the south.  When I visit family in New Orleans and Houston, in the small shops I often see little trays of gifts wrapped in clear cellophane labeled lagniappe.  There may be envelopes with gift cards or other small gifts like Christmas ornaments or angel tokens.  When we go to the bakery, there is always an extra roll or cookie for each member of my group.  At the candy store, there will be a petite gift box in my bag holding my purchase.  Amazon shopping is just not the same.   Store owners continue the custom of giving lagniappe – that little something extra – to their customers for years.   

At this time of year many small business owners will send a calendar, a thanks for being a customer card or some other kind note of appreciation.  You receive them too.  As much as I appreciate the thought, if I receive the same card with my insurance agent’s (admittedly adorable) dog, it isn’t making a big impression.  Compare that to the handwritten letter with a personalized binder I received a year ago from a vendor.  It was the first gift after 20 years of being a customer.  It came in late January – so imagine my surprise! It made such a great impression.  Of course, I wrote a thank you and received a phone call from the owner to say we just want you to know how much we appreciate you for being our customer for more than 20 years.  

Would that kind of outreach get your attention?  Later in the year, the owner asked if he could call me to have a talk about what they are doing well and what could be improved.  I was happy to make the time and I am happy to brag about their thoughtful service to all of my neighbors.  

Our goal is to delight our customers.  This type of unexpected outreach definitely worked for me.  I appreciate the pot of forced bulbs I receive every so often from my landscaper.  A delightful surprise (again in the dead of winter) to remind me that spring is coming, and his company is thinking about his customers. 

These would qualify in my mind as lagniappe although it’s not the gifts as much as it is the personal attention.  My landscaper is not leaving bulbs for the snowbirds in the neighborhood. He knows who they are and gives them gifts meaningful to them.  How about the neighbors he treats to a pot of special summer annuals?  He and his crew help another elderly lady “open up” her patio by putting the furniture in place once it’s warm as a little something extra for her.  They won’t let her pay for that time.  (She was a pretty famous gardener and her son still gives tours!) Guess who has been keeping her property to perfection for over two decades?  She still provides high-level input!

When was the last time you received a personal note of appreciation from someone thanking you for your patronage or a meaningful gift from a vendor?  How did it make you feel about the giver? 

More importantly, when was the last time you (yes, you, Mr. Owner) took a few minutes to write a personal card thanking your most loyal and profitable customers?  Yes, I know your account managers do a great job with that, but how nice would it be for your customer to know you care too?  A little lagniappe with that card might be seeds, a $10 Starbucks card or some other little extra.  Just a small unexpected “happy” to delight your customer. 

The element of surprise has been proven to be a powerful motivational tool. Scientific studies show that unexpected incentive rewards stimulate areas of the brain connected to behavior development and learning.  I clicker trained my dogs and my horse using the same unexpected rewards for behavioral development.  It works!

If you do try this in this season of thankfulness, please let me know how it turns out for you.  We’d love to hear about it! 

In the meantime, I would be delighted to have a chat with you about starting your exit planning process, selling your business, adding on a business to yours or other similar topics we help landscape business owners and senior managers with here at Harvest the Green Partners.

For these and any other exit/sales/buying issues you can reach me via email: [email protected] or on my cell phone at: 224-688-8838.  

We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential!

Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio