08 Aug How to Plan an Awesome Client Appreciation Party
If you are in business for yourself, you know how crucial happy clients and customers are to your success and growth. Customer service is key in any industry, but customer appreciation might be even more important, and here’s why:
Every month, we tally every single lead, new client, and sale from our business. Although it varies month to month, our highest source of business almost always comes from our existing database. Current clients, past clients, friends and family that either use our services or refer our services. If you are in sales — which, if you own a business and offer any service or product, you are — referrals are a fabulous source of business that you can tame into a predictable stream of revenue.
So, how do we grow and maintain our referral base? Easy — pull out the rolodex and rally your loyal clients and customers.
We invest lots of time and effort in thinking of new ways to pamper our clients and friends that support us. After all, they are major contributors to our success! The more and more we give, the more we get out of it.
One of our favorite things to do for our people is by hosting a Client Appreciation Party twice a year. Let’s be real, if you know anything about us, you know we love a reason to celebrate! We get everyone together, throw a little party, and raise a glass to the people who believe in us and support us most!
The first time we did this, it was a little daunting. How were we going to get 50 people together, in the same place, in less than a month — and still make sure everyone had a great time?
Here are the steps we took to pull off an awesome Client Appreciation Party, in less than 30 days.
Choose a location…
A little obvious here, but you need to pick the right place and time, stat. Spend some time strategizing here. If you frequent a certain restaurant that has a great space for large groups, start there. Think of places that are central and easy to get to, and where your clients will be excited to visit. A cocktail hour setting is a great way for you to control how much time people will be there. This will also be low-pressure and enjoyable for your guests.
Our first Client Appreciation Party was at O.H.S.O. Brewery in Paradise Valley. Everyone knows about O.H.S.O — it has a large patio space, great drink selection. The dog friendly patio made a welcoming and laid back space. The general atmosphere created a happy, relaxed atmosphere for our people.
The management was great, and being friendly from the get-go went a long way. After we introduced ourselves and explained what it was that we wanted to do, they made sure that we had everything we needed. These are all things to consider when choosing a place to host an event.
…And the date.
A date and time is just as important as the space — a weekday during happy hour is a great time. Ours usually take place on a Thursday between 5-7. Short and sweet. People are ready to loosen up after a long week, but not so much to keep them from work the next day. Bonus, you also might get to enjoy happy hour pricing for an hour, depending on your venue.
Determine your budget.
For us, a two-hour cocktail party setting allowed us to offer an open bar, on us. This isn’t a ridiculous idea; most people are courteous and won’t be ordering more than two drinks. And, some venues will let you preset a menu to control what people can and can’t order. O.H.S.O, for example, had pretty reasonable prices on all the drinks they offer, so we just let our guests order whatever they wanted between 5-7.
For food, we pre-ordered large appetizer options that were laid out on a table. People could pick and choose what they wanted to snack on. Don’t get crazy with the menu. A charcuterie and cheese board, spinach dip, and veggie plate were perfect for our crowd, and our guests were grateful for something to munch on. This will allow you to control costs, while making your guests feel welcome and catered to.
Make a guest list and get the word out.
This needs to happen as soon as you’ve determined the location and type of party. Give your guests at least two to three weeks notice, and notify them by mailed invitation, an email followup, and a personal call or text at least a week before. You should have a confirmed guest list at least one week before. This will help you determine how much food to order, or what kind of drink package to choose, from your venue. Starting a Facebook event page for the party will be an easy way to keep track of who’s going. Also, you can quickly share updates with your guests this way!
Arrange for a photographer.
Don’t let all of your hard work go to waste! As the kids say, “If you didn’t post it, it didn’t happen.” Hire a photographer to stop by for at least an hour, and take a few snaps of everyone having a good time. You can then share the photos with your guests or in your business marketing. You will be so glad you did!
Have small takeaways for your guests, and raffle off a few fun prizes!
We love giving swag items to our friends and family, so for our event we put together a goodybag for every guest. In each, there was a branded can koozie, a gourmet cookie from our friends at NOMaste Baking Co., a business card (it’s not tacky!), and a small ticket/print out that detailed our referral program.
For a raffle giveaway, we made sure each of our guests filled out their information on a slip of paper (keep these for follow up!). Near the end of the event, we used these to raffle away gifts that had been donated by business parters of ours. Wine glass sets by Refresh Glass, a basket of NOMaste Baking Co. cookies, and a growler of beer and gift card from O.H.S.O. Be sure to leverage!
This is one of the most important steps! After the tab is paid, your guests are happy, and the party ends, it is critical to follow up immediately. For example, you can prepare a general thank you card or mailer in advance for the guests that attended. (You now have their names and addresses from the raffle slip, right?!). For those that didn’t come, we made a postcard sized mailer with a big picture from the photographer of everyone at the party, laughing and having a great time. A “Sorry We Missed You!” message goes a long way! Be sure to thank every individual guest, and remind them why they were invited in the first place — that you are never too busy for their referrals!