Monday, January 15, 2007
Saturday evening was the annual awards banquet for my 9-year-old daughter's karate school. The Academy of Universal Martial Arts in South Austin has been a great experience for our family over the past year. Many regular readers of this blog may recall that we had some serious issues/problems at another school a year ago, but our current school has created an amazing sense of community. It is a family.
The school is just over a year old, so this was the first banquet, and it was very well done. I am a big believer that special client events are an amazing way to build a community among your customers. This event proved that.
I was very impressed with how the owners of the school had structured the evening. Many larger companies could learn from this little dojo about how to honor customers, employees and volunteers.
*The night began with a slide show showcasing all the students. No matter what your business, you customers love to see themselves included in slide shows, newsletters, websites, etc....
*There were dozens of door prizes that were donated by local businesses and families from the school, so most everyone was able to win a prize. The kids love to win prizes (heck, the adults like to win prizes!). These ranged from small gifts to some major items. By having so many, it gave almost everyone a chance to win something, and built the excitement for the evening.
*The owner of the school honored the instructors and presented them with some very impressive martial arts swords in appreciation of their dedication to the school. We are fortunate at the academy to have amazing teachers who have made my daughter's martial arts experience very beneficial. While I am not a big fan of weapons, they are a part of the martial arts, and these were beautiful swords. You could see in their eyes that the instructors were thrilled with the gifts.
*Awards were presented for the students in the areas of "beginner", "intermediate", "advanced" and "black-belt" levels. A "most improved" and "student of the year" was given in each category for a youth and an adult student. My daughter, Jackie, was "Most Improved" in the intermediate category (she is now "advanced", but the award is based on the previous year). She has worked hard in her training, and was very honored to receive the plaque, which is already proudly hanging on the wall of her bedroom.
*They also presented an award to the "Parents of the Year" to a deserving couple who are deeply dedicated to not only their children, but to all the kids in the program. I thought this was a great additional touch. Getting your kid to any extracurricular activity takes a commitment, and by honoring this couple, the school honored all the parents.
*Organizing such an event takes a team of volunteers, and the owner of the school recognized the women who orchestrated the decorations, pot luck, agenda, and door prizes. This small group of dedicated parents and students did an awesome job of coordinating the party (My lovely wife, Sara, amongst them!). He presented them each with a gift certificate for Seattle's Best Coffee. A small gesture made them all so very happy, you can bet they will all volunteer again.
I have been thinking about the fact that so few businesses go out of their way to create such a feeling of community that this small karate school has done. The owners always make parents and students know that they appreciate our business. The instructors regularly keep us informed as to our daughter's progress. Throughout the year their are special events, but this banquet was really spectacular. I looked around at the fifty families in attendance and everyone was having a great time. Well done client appreciation events keep your customers coming back time and time again.
Think about your business. What have you done lately to appreciate your customers and employees? Have you taken steps to make those with whom you do business feel they are part of a community....or is your main interaction with clients the mailing of an invoice? If clients feel you only appreciate their money, then you are vulnerable to them going down the street to the competition.
I can promise you The Academy of Universal Martial Arts (at the corner of Slaugther and Manchaca in Austin, Texas) understands the importance of creating community, and I am proud to have my family be a part of this community!
Have A Great Day.