Meet The Author

Kirt Manecke is a an award-winning author and sales, marketing, fundraising, and business development specialist with over 30 years of experience surprising and delighting customers.

winner-11-awards-kirt-maneckeKirt's books have won 11 awards. Quick-easy social skills for teens! He spent nine months meeting with teens for his award-winning book on social skills for teens,
Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must Know People Skill for Today’s Wired World.


    Kirt wrote the award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service to promote and teach the simple premise that good service is good business – that if you treat your customers well, you will be rewarded in return. A crash course – it’s quick and easy to implement. BancorpSouth, Neiman Marcus, and many others use Smile for training.


    Kirt Manecke’s passion for customer service and sales began years ago, when he co-founded an award-winning start-up – Surf's Up - a specialty retail business in Michigan. Having worked at other businesses during college, Kirt wanted his own company to be different and better; to train its employees in ways that would result in more sales and profits.

    Kirt developed an extensive and innovative six-week customer service and sales training program for new employees, where they were introduced to proven techniques and had to pass a test before joining the sales team. The program worked. Kirt watched as confidence – and customer satisfaction and sales – soared. The tenets taught in this first training program provided the basis of his award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service.


    Kirt took Surf's Up from a start-up to a beloved award-winning specialty retail business. Known through the Midwest for excellent, friendly customer service and a vast selection of high quality merchandise, Surf's Up won West Bloomfield's Most Beautiful Store Award. Through Kirt's leadership and customer service and sales training, Surf's Up became the leading Midwest dealer for brands such as Oakley, O'Neill, Burton Snowboards, Thule, Rollerblade and others.

    When Kirt opened Surf's Up, with a large competing dealer directly across the street, and another competitor down the street, all leading manufactures' lines were tied up. Kirt knew that by delivering excellent customer service and delighting one customer at a time, Surf's Up would eventually flourish. Soon his two competitors in the area went out of business, leaving Kirt's business open to take on all leading lines.

    Going in-depth with merchandise to ensure in-stock products, customer delight, life-time repeat customers, and referrals, along with training employees to become experts in every product carried along with the competitor's products, was Surf's Up's competitive advantage. Kirt's strategy via in-stock inventory, excellent customer service, friendly, helpful, trained expert salespeople, and genuine suggestive selling, was to:

    • Increase the average sale per customer
    • Increase units per purchase
    • Increase number of customer visits
    • Increase conversions
    • Increase sales per square feet
    Kirt accomplished this by making sure every customer was treated like a friend. Surf's Up became the premiere destination in the Midwest for windsurfers, snowboards, accessories and gear along with women's swimwear.

    This included Mistral windsurfers, Oakley sunglasses (to maximize sales and customer delight, Kirt carried every single style and color Oakley manufactured and trained staff to explain to customers, "We carry every style and color sunglass Oakley makes" to minimize or eliminate comparison shopping with other Oakley dealers and ensure customers purchased on the spot), O'Neill wetsuits (Kirt's staff was trained to explain the benefits, like the benefits of glued and blind stitching over overlock stitching in wetsuit seams for different temperatures. for example, along with other features and benefits - like O'Neill's lifetime guarantee on workmanship-and Kirt carried all sizes up to XXXL to maximize sales and customer delight), Thule car racks (Kirt carried every roof adapter Thule manufactured to ensure that customers came to Surf's Up for their car rack because most other dealers were out of stock due to poor sales and poor inventory management).

    Kirt knew if the customer could purchase what they wanted and had a positive experience, they would stay in the store longer to purchase additional merchandise and become long-time return customers who refer their friends.

    Kirt is a former salesman and publicist for New York Times Best-Selling author Carl R. Sams. Kirt expanded sales nationwide through friendly consultative selling and long-term relationship building. Through tenacious, strategic new business development and relationship building, he earned DVD movie product placements on PBS stations nationwide to increase brand awareness and product sales.

    As executive director of a northern Michigan nonprofit land conservancy, Kirt increased membership tenfold and land protection 400% in just three years using many of the methods in Smile. He taught the staff and volunteers how to make a great first impression by answering the phone properly, mailing thank you notes the same day donations are received, greeting people properly, along with many other customer service and sales skills. Kirt is an expert fundraiser, raising tens of thousands of dollars from corporate sponsors, individual donors, along with over $200,000.00 in foundation grants in just three years.

    Kirt created monthly giving, major donor, and Legacy Circle annual major donor programs, along with corporate sponsorship cause marketing advertisement programs with companies such as Weyerhaeuser and others. Kirt created a special meeting for large landowners, which brought out major land owners such as the late Lou Groen, inventor of the Fillet of Fish Sandwich and owner of 42 McDonald's restaurants in Ohio.

    Protecting over 3,000 acres of land, he also revamped the nonprofits overall branding and marketing communications and PR strategy to attract a wider, more sophisticated audience, increasing donations by more than 1,000% along with securing over 100 press placements per year. Kirt is passionate about getting Smile in the hands of nonprofit staff and volunteers to help them delight donors and raise more money faster to make a greater impact.


    One of the biggest reasons donors stop donating money to a charity is that they don't feel appreciated and fail to receive a thank you note. Kirt's books are all about helping for profits and nonprofits deliver amazing customer service.

    Kirt's book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service is featured in Animal Sheltering Magazine from the Humane Society in the article  "Going the Extra Smile: To save more animals, remember the little things". Kirt's advice has also been featured in Saving Land Magazine from the Land Trust Alliance in the article "Turbocharge Your Land Trust".


    Smile & Succeed for Teens is Kirt's newest book. It's super short and easy and fun to read, perfect for a teen's short attention span. It's based on Kirt's award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service with the addition of a multitude of fun and informative illustrations and captions, a chapter on how to interview and get a job, a chapter on volunteering effectively, and a section on overcoming stress. It's the teen friendly social skills and job skills success handbook!


    These books are SUPER SHORT. Kirt wrote them for busy teens, tweens and adults, so they only cover what you really need to know. You can read the books on a short airplane ride. They are an easy, engaging read. 

    Here's what one reviewer said:
    "Quick and Easy! Great book and is a quick read. It covers a lot of the basics that are overlooked. I highly recommend it."

    ​Another reviewer said:
    "Get Your Employees Started Right! Does your company need customers? Do you need to KEEP them? This book is the perfect starting point for any employee who will interact with customers."


    Temple Grandin, world-renowned autism spokesperson and professor at Colorado State University, called Kirt the same day she read his book Smile & Succeed for Teens. Temple urged Kirt to use her testimonial to get his book out to all teens and adults to lower the unemployment rate. This is her testimonial:
    "Smile & Succeed for Teens is a fantastic resource to help teens be successful at work."
    --TEMPLE GRANDIN, Author, Thinking in Pictures, The Autistic Brain, TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World

    (Have you watched the Emmy award-winning movie "Temple Grandin" starring Claire Danes? It's a must-see!)


    Kirt is currently at work on a large print edition of Smile & Succeed for Teens for visually impaired kids, along with an audio book, and a children's picture book on social skills.


    Kirt is a member of Birmingham Toastmasters. He is also a volunteer judge at DECA conferences to help high school and college students become our next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.

    A former owner of a public relations company, he volunteers his time and skills to help groups saving natural lands, and working to end animal cruelty. He is the chair of the Animals Asia Michigan Volunteer Group, a group devoted to supporting the nonprofit Animals Asia effort to end bear farming and rescue animals from cruelty. Kirt focuses on raising funds for Animals Asia to fund life-saving surgery for badly abused bears.

    1% of the sales of Kirt's books are donated to animal welfare. He also donates autographed copies of his books to many charities for silent auctions. Nonprofit organizations receiving donations include Animals Asia, Animal Defenders International, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Last Chance Rescue, Black Pines Animal Sanctuary (IN), Mississippi Valley Land Conservancy, Michigan Animal Adoption Network, and others. Learn about Kirt’s work with his SMILE books to save animals on his Giving Back page.


    Developing Social Skills on Autism Live Video - "Smile" by Kirt Manecke

    Smile & Succeed for Teens Social Skills and Job Skills Presentation: Kirt Manecke


    A young girl at Living and Learning in downtown Northville, MI learns
    social skills from Smile & Succeed for Teens.

    ​Your teens are set up for success after they read Smile & Succeed for Teens.



  • Book Consulting: $300 per hour

    Are you thinking about self-publishing a book but have no idea where to start? Award-winning author, book publishing and marketing expert Kirt Manecke can help you with self-publishing, marketing, sales, public relations and more.

    In a one-hour telephone consultation Kirt will answer your questions and help make your book a success. Email your questions in advance and Kirt will have tips and answers to your questions ready when you call.


    Skyrocket your donations! Kirt provides personalized fundraising services based on your needs. He can also dramatically improve the effectiveness of your website, newsletter, social media, public relations, sponsorships, and fundraising programs. Turn your nonprofit into a leading change agent. Kirt's passions are helping land trusts and animal rescue groups exceed expectations.

    ​Kirt can research and call potential corporate sponsors or other prospects for you. Let Kirt do some of your important fundraising! Whatever your cause, Kirt will help your nonprofit succeed!

  • Contact Kirt

    Please contact Kirt Manecke at or at 248-685-0483 if you have any questions and to arrange the date and time of your consultation. All fees are to be paid in advance by check, cash or credit card.

    "It takes years to get a customer or donor, and seconds to lose one. I look forward to helping you stop losing customers or donors and start surprising and delighting your customers to keep them coming back for more." Kirt Manecke

    Thank you!

What People are Saying

  •  I am a high school teacher and I’m always on the lookout for something that will actually help teens. I have little interest in books that appeal to teachers but have no appeal to the students. This book has that appeal. What I like about the book is that Kirt Manecke never put in a lot of the padding you see in most books on the subject. Kirt gets right to the point. I can tell you that teenagers want to get to the point quickly and this book does just that. While a teen might not encounter everything in the book, Manecke makes sure that everything is at your fingertips. I can recommend this book to parents of youngsters who are, or who will soon be, teenagers. I can also recommend it to my teaching colleagues who are looking for a perfect structure for a class that will really help teens.

    high school teacher, CA
  •  WOW! Well worth the time and money. What I found helpful about Smile was that it really focused on the basics that so many of us can do well, but we often forget or would never think of. Eye contact. Follow up. “May I put you on hold?” The little things that we observe in our daily lives when we are on the receiving end of customer service. The book has already paid for the investment of $15 and ~90 minutes.

    As I read Smile, I went back and made three lists: 1) habits I already do in my job; habits I probably can’t do in my job, and habits I should start doing. I have been able to work the new habits into my daily routing, clients are noticing, and I’m closing more sales (too early to quantify the amount) and relationships seem to be getting stronger. It would be just fine with me if everyone (except my competitors) read this book. Well done!

  •  As a partner in an automotive dealership group, how we approach customer service is more than important, it’s life or death for our business…This training can be delivered many different ways and we chose Kirt Manecke’s Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service as a major component of our core training. The message delivered in this book resonates perfectly in today’s world and falls right in line with our “attitude is everything” foundation.

    This book has a simple comprehension, a quick delivery, and is right on target! What else can you ask for? I highly recommend this book to all those businesses who deal directly with people.

    We have started an “evidence” book full of positive customer feedback. Since we read Smile as a team, our evidence book has exploded.

    Thad Szott
    Thad Szott Auto Group, Highland, MI
  •  This book is a home run. As a father and businessman I strongly recommend this book. It’s great to watch my 12 year old daughter practice the skills she’s learned from the book, such as having a good handshake and making eye contact. It’s so fun to have conversations about what she notices when we go to different businesses. I know it has helped her to prepare for success by learning skills that she can use in school, and work, when she’s old enough. The book helps to teach skills that might not have sunk in so easily if they were coming straight from me.

    The book has also enhanced my employee training and saved me time for those employees with little or no customer service experience. It should be required reading.

  •  It definitely has the potential to be a total life changing book…

  •  I like the tips and directions on smiling and how to shake hands.

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