November and December are probably the most memorable months of our lives. It’s a special time of year we enjoy with our families, reflecting upon our blessings and just having some quality time with one another. It’s also a wonderful time of the year to let your clients know how much you appreciate their business by hosting an annual client appreciation dinner. Although the preparation and nature of these dinners is similar to that of public workshops and client referral dinners, there is one huge difference you’ll want to take into consideration: There is no business discussed at the client dinner.

Preparation for this event actually begins about a year in advance. Depending upon the size of your client database, you will want to make sure the venue you’re using to host the event will be able to handle the number of people attending.

Look for locations that regularly host weddings and banquets. It’s important to get the date booked by the beginning of the year so you can inform your clients and provide them with enough time to prepare and put it on their calendar.
If your budget allows, it’s a good idea to provide some sort of special entertainment. We regularly hire a DJ to play music from the ’50s and ’60s and to award prizes for correctly answering trivia questions; we’ve also held a raffle and given out tickets based on the number of referrals our clients bring us over the year. Be sure your themes and/or types of entertainment are different each year. You want to make sure each event is special and something for your clients to look forward to.

One of the purposes of the client appreciation is to nurture your relationships with customers. We always take time to introduce our entire staff and their families with warm and funny stories. As you contemplate the possibility of hosting your own client appreciation event, many of you are probably wondering, “Is it worth it?”

After hosting a client appreciation, cards and phone calls will probably flood your office returning thanks for the special occasion you’ve provided. Your clients will likely share how much fun they had and that they’ve never done business with a financial institution, or any other business for that matter, that made them feel as cared for or appreciated as much as you made them feel at your dinner event. Throughout the next year, whenever the subject of retirement investments comes up in their conversations with friends and relatives, your clients will share the experience they had with you and your staff. So, yeah, it’s worth it.