gratitude

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.

Related: Developing Your “Why”: How to Work for MORE Than Just Money

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:

Be remarkable.

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 …read more