“When leaders show gratitude and generosity to their teams, the excitement trickles down to customers, and everybody wins.”— Misti Burmeister

Each Thanksgiving, we kick off the holiday season considering what we have to be thankful for. For leaders, this is a great time to let customers and employees know how grateful you are for their awesomeness! It’s also a great time to consider what you can give back – how you can make them thankful for you.

My dear friend and talented editor, Taylor Mallory Holland, recently shared the following story with me:

Last week, my husband ran over a screw in a parking lot. So I took our car to Walmart, hoping they could patch the tire. The guy at Walmart said the tire’s tread didn’t look good, and it was against their policy to patch it, so I would need a new tire. Oh, and they didn’t carry the size I needed.

The tire wasn’t very old, and I really thought the tread was fine. So I took it down the road to Discount Tires. I expected them to say they couldn’t fix it either (whether it was true or not) so that I would have to buy a new tire. Boy, was I wrong!

Not only did they fix it, and shine all four of my tires, but these are services they offer for free – which is crazy, because most places charge anywhere from $10 to $25 to patch tires. But they know I will now come back when I do need to make a purchase. And since the tires for our other vehicle cost about $250 each, the company will end up getting plenty of money out of me. Plus, I’ll tell everyone how great they treated me (a non-paying customer).

The guys who worked there were very friendly, upbeat and helpful to all the customers who came in. They actually seemed to enjoy being there, which isn’t something you often see in retail. Clearly, this company treats people well. While I was waiting, I saw a sign advertising job openings. It said the company offers VERY flexible hours, health benefits and 401(k). They even offer college scholarships to full- or part-time employees who’ve worked there for a certain period of time.

Now, that’s smart business! Just as Taylor felt compelled to share this story with me, I felt compelled to share it with you. Why? Because when companies can get both their employees and customers excited about what they do (and Taylor is not the sort of person to get excited about tires), they’re doing something worth talking about – or, in my case, blogging about.

Here are two things this company is getting right:

1.Give Customers a Reason to Be Thankful for You

Sure, Discount Tires misses out on revenue every time their guys repair a tire. They even lose a little money for the supplies and human resources. But the company understands that a little generosity today leads to bigger profits later.Consider what you could give to customers that wouldn’t cost you much but could make a big impression on them.

2.  Let Your Employees Know How Thankful You Are for Them

Discount Tires would not be able to deliver such quality service without front-line employees who actually like their jobs. When leaders show gratitude and generosity to their teams, the excitement trickles down to customers, and everybody wins.

Consider how you could show your team a little generosity this holiday season and in the coming year. How could you invest in them – even if it’s something small? What opportunities could you provide to help them get the experiences, training and opportunities they want? If you don’t know what they want, just ask. (Plus, here’s a list of ideas for inspiration.)

Bottom line: When you show your customers and employees that you’re grateful for them, they’ll be grateful for you.

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across GenerationsHidden Heroes and Power Suck.

Misti on Google+