Friday, May 25, 2007

Thank you notes

Did your mother make you write thank you notes? If you are a mother now, do you have your kids write them? Do you write them? As an individual, or as a business person. Not an e-mail, but a real paper and pen note, sent the old fashioned way? I try to do it, but sometimes they slip for me. I have one right now that has been on my list for the last two months....late. Very late. But after I tell you this story, I am going to sit down and write it, stamp it and put it in the mailbox. And maybe a few more as well.

My nephew attends college in Vermont. He is a business major, and he just finished his sophomore year. He lost the job he had lined up for the summer, so he decided to start his own business instead. He and his friend, Ian decided to sell ice cream off an old converted school bus. They set up an independent project for the last semester, and with the guidance of a professor, set up the Short Bus Ice Cream company.

They bought the bus off of Craig's List. It needed some work, and it got a nice paint job.

The local bank provided some of the financing, along with family. The ice cream is Ben & Jerry's. They got some local publicity (above link), and used a local mechanic to do the modifications and repairs to the bus.

And, they sent out thank you notes. To all the people and companies who helped them make this happen.

So this week, they began their adventure. The first day out, the bus broke down. The alternator failed. Not only does that affect the operation of the bus, but also it feeds the electricity to the freezers for the ice cream. Can you say trouble? So, they head for the mechanic who worked on the bus in the past. They pull up the bus, and get out to calls of "It's the Ice Cream guys!" They go inside, and taped on the cash register is the thank you note they had sent to the mechanic.

They explain their dilemna, and the response is fantastic. They tell them to plug the freezer in right away. They tell them they can fix it right then. Keegan and Ian offered free ice cream, but they insist on paying for it. The whole shop is turning circles to help these two guys get their business back on the road. They ended up leaving the bus there overnight to be repaired. The shop put in a better quality altenator and gave them a great deal on it.

Did the thank you note have anything to do with this outcome? Who knows? But it probably didn't hurt. It's the good karma thing. You acknowledge the effort someone put forth and it is appreciated and remembered.

When the boys got back on the road they had a great first day of sales. In two hours they sold more than $200 worth of ice cream. And they were having a blast. According to my nephew, this is the most fun he has ever had working. I couldn't be happier for him. He has figured out that he can follow his dreams, and make something happen. (Remember yesterday's post about the impossible?) And he already has a great story or two.

After his mother told me the story I asked if he was blogging. She said she didn't think he had the I'm sharing his story with you here, because I think it is a great one. Have an amazing summer guys! You deserve it. And if you're in Burlington, Vermont this summer and see the Short Bus, buy a pop, and say "hi" to Keegan and Ian. In the meantime, do you have any thank you notes that need writing??


Susan said...

What a terrific beginning-of-summer, you-can-do anything-you-want-to, lemons-into-lemonade story Judy.

Inspiration for the beginning of the summer season - thanks for sharing! Please keep us posted about their progress. Love it!

Kathi said...

wow, what a great story Judy. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Thanks you notes. Amazing how your topics hit right on time. My partner and I just wrote out 24 thank you cards to send to folks who shared our bat mitzvah with us by making donations to our Temple in our name.

I sure wish I could go to Vt and get some ice cream from them, but tis a wee too far from California. darn it.

Michelle Davis Petelinz said...

Yes, my mother was a stickler for the handwritten, personalized (not just 'thank you for the gift, I really liked it') thank-you note. I am the same way with my son today. I find it's almost gone the way of dialing telephones...who does that these days?! But, like you, I think it's a wonderful thing to do, to express the way you feel about someone having taken the time and effort to acknowledge you. Thanks for sharing the story; it's a good one!