Step Up Your Game – Get Involved In Your Community!
What are you doing to hold your business to a higher standard?
It’s great if you’ve got your local booster club’s sticker in your front shop window, but what are you really doing as a business to stand out? Besides mailing in a check every high school football season, what actions are you taking to define your company as one that truly cares about its customers and community?
If you ‘d be nervous answering these questions in front of a board of investors, it’s time you take a look at your mission statement and the social or community section of your business plan.
We all know that customer service is high on the “What contributes to success?” scale, but many business owners fail to realize the importance of customer and community appreciation. There are many ways to support your community without bandwagoning onto a local cause or charity. We’ve identified some of these ways below.
Scholarships, Internships and Apprenticeships
Though this practice has become somewhat of a rarity in recent years, businesses are in the best position to give back to the community by way of direct scholarships, internships and apprenticeships. Using those methods to invest in education is a great way to give back to the community. Skip the half-hearted appearance at the local scholarship banquet, and set aside your own fund for private scholarships. Offer part or full-time internships or apprenticeships at your place of business. Often times, the local talent willing to walk through your front door and shake your hand will outshine the recent university grad and online applicant. Donating toward a massive scholarship fund is all good and well, but are your efforts really being seen, heard and FELT by the community? Meet the youth in your area. Talk to them. Most importantly, invest your time and knowledge in them.
Thank your customers. Learn their names. Those two statements mean much more than one would think. The printed “Thanks, come again!” on your receipts and plastic bags is not enough. What are you doing to show your customers that you appreciate them? If you’ve completed a large order, project or job for a client, send a personal note thanking them for their business. Give loyal customers discounts on future orders. When you see a familiar face out in public, STOP. A smile and a handshake are appropriate. At the end of the day, your customers are all you’ve got. Without them, your product or service is just “stuff”. Call your customers by their names when given the chance. Send Christmas cards and wish them a happy birthday. You’ll earn respect and their continued patronage.
Look for ways to get your brand inserted into the community. In my hometown, our community comes together for farmers’ markets, shop hops and other events. These events are often in need of posters, flyers, brochures and other marketing goods. This gives Kapeesh the perfect opportunity to help – and get our brand out there. Find events in your area that relate to your industry. Give, give and give again.
The goal is to have your community not only recognize your brand, but to respect and rely on your involvement.
Do you have your own ideas? Stories of how you gave back and made an impact in your area? We want to hear about it!