The pandemic is a learning experience that shows how much people value community and service to others. Whether they know it or not, independent retailers are deeply invested in the communities where they operate their businesses since their livelihood depends on the customers who buy merchandise from them. Customers remember retailers who give back and support causes that positively impact the community. It implies that their patronage goes beyond monetary transactions and helps them believe their dollars are better spent with your business than a competitor. Being engaged and interacting with the community on a deeper level will also reap positive benefits for companies, such as increasing visibility in the community and improving employees’ job satisfaction.
It is essential that any overtures made to the community be genuine and from the heart. The primary motivation should not be free publicity for the business. Instead, keep the focus on achieving tangible results in educating the community, offering time, or providing financial assistance. However, many natural opportunities and promotional techniques will work to get the word out to your customers and other groups. It will require a concentrated effort to promote in-store events, network with influential leaders, and organizations that will help the cause you want to support.
Research indicates that employees who feel they are volunteering for a worthy cause or being socially responsible have higher levels of job satisfaction. The business owners and staff who operate local hardware stores and home improvement businesses often live in the communities in which they work. These individuals are already a part of the extended family that consists of the community.
Offer Classes and Demo’s
Independent retailers are a wealth of information about the best products to purchase for specific projects and the most effective ways to use them. Using your expertise to conduct classes in-store or online is a great way to educate the community. Sustainability and community vegetable gardens are topics frequently in the news. Retailers who operate garden centers can offer in-store classes on organic gardening, raised-bed gardens, and composting. Operators can also hold demos on restoring recycled furniture, building a birdhouse, and using power tools safely.
Volunteer Your Time
Organizations always need volunteers willing to pack food boxes, repair homes, make deliveries to the disabled, and participate in fundraisers. Owners and employees can lend a helping hand to support a cause or create a successful event. Getting involved is excellent exposure for the business and can let you engage with new people. Offering your store as a meeting place after hours is another option that can connect you to other business owners and potential customers.
Sponsor an Event
There is no shortage of events for anyone committed to helping those in need. Every community has 5K runs, walks, pet parades, and children’s charities. Involving suppliers, employees, and loyal customers can make the event a team effort that can help your business stand out from the crowd. How involved organizations want to be in planning and execution can determine if it’s best to share responsibilities with other organizers or sponsor your event. Being the sole sponsor requires getting publicity, T-shirts, and accepting financial responsibility for transactions. The upside is that whatever you plan can become an annual event that involves the community.
Join the Chamber of Commerce
Networking with other retailers who share common goals can maximize your efforts to serve the community. Exchanging ideas and discussing ways to improve the local business environment can create more jobs and build lasting relationships.
Retailers who think of themselves as community members will discover that loyal customers appreciate their efforts and will go the extra mile to support their businesses when times get tough. The last few years have been difficult for many small businesses, yet they managed to survive thanks to their communities.