When was the last time you were totally and completely surprised? Did someone ever pull a “knock your socks off” extravagant surprise on you?

Many years ago a friend of mine invited me out for dinner. Even though it coincided with my birthday, I didn’t suspect anything unusual. It was a great restaurant — one of those old-fashioned steak houses with good food and character. So when we rolled up to it, that restaurant in and of itself was going to be a nice way to spend the evening. We went inside and there they were. At least 20 friends and family members all seated together in one big section yelling, “Surprise!”

They got me — I had no idea, and it was a sweet, sweet moment. First off, I couldn’t believe all those folks would drive to a restaurant, which was in a neighboring town, on a work night. A couple of them lived in the boonies and it was a hefty commute.

I was surprised.

I wrote a blog last year about a painter named Earl. He did such a fabulous job on my project — his work was impeccable. But often it was the little things he would do that would leave an impression. Once after a long day at work that was not so fun and where people were not so nice, I came home to find a sweet, unexpected gesture from him. It was trash day and the trash can that I had rolled to the street that morning had been placed back in its spot next to the side of my house. It may not have been a “knock your socks off” moment. It may not have been an extravagant surprise, but I was tired, crabby, and it stood out. I noticed and it felt good.

What is that one thing that you could do to pleasantly surprise your clients? Trust me. It implants a memory — stamping your name like no marketing piece ever will. —Kathy Shertzer is office manager at DuKate Fine Remodeling, in Franklin, Ind.