While many small businesses are not able to match the rock-bottom prices of chains and large retailers, you can often gain customer loyalty by establishing yourself as a community business. If your business becomes an integral part of your local area and supports causes important to the town, residents are likely to demonstrate the same allegiance back to you. Becoming a community business isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires a concerted effort over time and, most importantly, a true passion for the community that you serve. Follow these small business tips to integrate your business into your local community.
Join the Chamber of Commerce
One of the best ways to get involved in the community is to join the local Chamber of Commerce and become an active member. By joining forces with other business owners in your area, you can jointly create campaigns and make changes on issues such as road improvements and local taxes. Even more importantly, you will meet other business owners with whom you can share ideas. “The Chamber of Commerce is a great way to connect with other like-minded business owners which can prosper into wonderful relationships,” says Jayme Pretzloff, online marketing director with Wixon Jewelers.
Become involved in the schools
Local schools are often one of the community's the most important resources, and supporting your schools is a great way to get involved. Offer to speak to classes about your industry and host field trips to your business, if appropriate. You can also lend your expertise to help improve the school: A web design company could update the school's the website, or a landscape business could create a new flower garden. David Dewhirst, co-owner of ThreeTwelve Creative, volunteered at local schools by giving presentations to technology teachers and hosting a student intern.
Give a discount for firefighters, police officers, and teachers
Most communities consider those that serve the community, such as firefighters, police officers,military personnel and teachers, to be local heroes. Since these professions are typically not highly paid, many of these workers are often on a fixed budget. By offering a discount on your products or services to those who devote their lives to the community, you are showing the town that you value these heroes as well.
Participate in festivals or local gatherings
Does your town have a holiday parade? Is the high school homecoming the best event of the year? Or perhaps on the first Saturday in April, everyone comes downtown for the annual art show. Think about what events, parades and festivals are important to your community and then participate in these activities by sponsoring a float, setting up a booth or volunteering at the event.
By Jennifer Goforth Gregory