As a local business owner, from a small start-up to a long-time service provider, making your business part of your community is imperative to creating long-term relationships and excellent visibility. Not only can it help to increase your business on a daily basis, it can lead to other benefits – acceptance, longevity, a sense of belonging.
It’s not always easy to make a business a member of their local community. There are time barriers, cost barriers, and sometimes issues with interest on the part of both parties. The reward for both sides is often worth the effort though. So what are some ways that your business can get involved in your community?
Participate in your Local Chamber of Commerce
Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is a no-brainer – research shows that when a customer knows a small business is a member of the local chamber, it has a favorable opinion. According to the Shapiro Group, this can include up to a 57 percent increase in local reputation and a 63 percent increase in the likelihood that customers will patronize the business in the future. That being said, joining just isn’t good enough.
You need to participate in your chamber. That same article indicates that by showing you are highly involved in the Chamber, consumers perceive that your products stack up better against your competition. That’s without the need for proof – the effort makes consumers feel your company is trustworthy, which can lead to more business coming your way.
Position Yourself as the Expert
“I know a girl.” “I got a guy for that.”
Fathers everywhere always seem to have a certain person they like to deal with for certain services or questions. Maybe they’ve got a specific plumber, a particular accountant, or a certain groomer for their dog. This is a person they see as an expert, and their go-to.
Be that guy or girl. Whatever your business is, you have the opportunity to set yourself up as not just a local provider, but the local expert. Reach out to the community by making experiences on radio programs, writing articles or columns for your local newspaper, or using social media to connect through neighborhood or community pages.
Contribute to the Local Economy
Hire local, buy local, subcontract local. As a business, you have the opportunity to source product, labor, and other needs from wherever is best for you. However, you can become a more-valued member of your community by making the extra effort to utilize the businesses that are also part of your community.
We’re not suggesting that you take on a subcontractor with a bad reputation or unreasonable pricing just to keep things local – that’s just silly.
But if a local service provider can offer the same level of work as one further away? If you can find local job candidates with the same qualifications as ones who would need to commute? If you can find suppliers with similar goods at similar prices that are right down the street? Consider taking that shot and working local. The cash stays in the community, and you get the reputation of supporting other local businesses.
Give Back to Local Causes
As Bert Cooper says in Mad Men, “Philanthropy is the gateway to power.” A great way to be visible and to earn your company good will is to give back on a local level. This involves
- Sponsoring local sports teams, whether it is getting your company name on Little League uniforms, supporting school sports through buying advertising, or buying and donating sports equipment to local leagues,
- Participating in local parades, Community Day Outs, and holiday events makes you visible, and shows that you are making effort to give back. Whether you are a contracting company offering one of your vehicles to pull floats in the parade, a restaurant offering free hot chocolate at a tree lighting, or setting up a stand at events, people will notice.
- Create a scholarship for a local student. Even a small fund of $500 can help a student pay for extra expenses, fees, or books – or, as expensive as they are these days, a single textbook. But any little bit counts. For added impact, make it a scholarship that is awarded to students looking to enter into a field related to your business. Not only
- Support a local charity, whether through donating time or donating effort. Encourage your staff to find organizations that are close to their hearts or are relevant to your organization, and consider organizing team volunteer activities. From organizing a food drive for the local food bank, to building houses with Habitat for Humanity, to volunteering for roadside clean-up, it can be used not only as a way to give back, but also to build a sense of team or a sense of family amongst your staff.
Serve on Community Boards
There’s more to do around town than to be part of the Chamber. From arts councils, to business councils, to the local school board, putting yourself out there and connecting your face and business with these boards can show you want to be involved in more than just business-related growth of the community. Bonus points if it is related to your personal hobbies and interests – it’s always great to combine business and pleasure.
Community groups often have trouble finding viable meeting spaces. They may often be competing for the same church space, cafeteria, or book store for meeting dates. If you have space to offer, it is a great way to make an impact and a connection without a major cost on your part. It could be for weekly meetings or, if you have a large enough space, offered for a larger event such as a fundraiser.
Transforming your business from simply a business to a true member of the community comes with plenty of benefits.
- Companies that are highly involved in the community are often sought-after by high-end job seekers, so you could improve your pool of potential employees.
- Your company will have much higher visibility.
- Potential investors or partners may be swayed knowing that they will be working with a respected community member.
- Community involvement can build a positive profile with current or prospective customers.
- Community partnerships can facilitate the change of ideas, and can open your company to input and perspectives that could help you to grow and evolve.
So consider how you can get involved with your community! Here at SEH Excavating, we pride ourselves as an integral member of the Finksburg community and the Baltimore region. By being involved and making the effort to be a part of our local community, we have been able to cement ourselves as one of the leading site development companies in the state. We hope you’ll follow our lead and become part of your community as well!