How Investing In Your Community Can Benefit Your Business
When it comes to engaging with your local community, it really is a two-way relationship between your business and your neighbours. You get to contribute to the community and the lives of the nearby residents, and in return are able to attract loyal customers, new business and continued support - which is fundamental in many businesses, such as convenience stores, as your local economy will be bringing in your revenue.
As for attitudes towards local businesses, our recent survey found that of the 200 consumers asked, 58% said that they chose small businesses for convenience, followed by the want to support local businesses and boost the economy. When asked about what mattered to them most, 27% said that customer service was extremely important, proving that smaller businesses can provide a better service as they build stronger relationships with individuals.
So with this in mind, here are a few ways that you can successfully engage with your local community and develop those all important relationships:
Offer Something Different
A great way to get your local community to engage with your products or services is by offering them unique experiences; for example, through hosting events or tailoring your offering to your audience. This is a surefire way to get your business on the map, spread the word about what you do and allow your local community to get familiar with who you are as a business.
Paul Warburton, who opened Franks Canteen in 2014, says “There is a saying in catering that you're only as good as your last dish and I try to instil this attitude into the team (as well as myself!). If you're a neighbourhood cafe without a great deal of footfall, consistency is key and not resting on your laurels just because some customers come in a few times a week is so important. We try and make everyone feel welcome by creating off menu items and offering raffle prizes for the local schools of our customers’ children as well.”
Businesses are often seen as a welcome addition to communities as they generate jobs and and employment opportunities. You may want to consider making the most of this by offering apprenticeships and opportunities to train young people up; giving back to the community, and investing in the welfare of future generations. This could include hiring young trainee chefs in your restaurant, or a junior mechanic in your garage who is able to learn on the job.
Doing so will show that you’re keen to invest in the growth of your community, and ensure that your local residents are being offered better opportunities in career building.
Niall Norbury, Editor of Alt Reading, a publication that supports small and independent businesses in Reading says, “Creating or joining networks is key for micro-businesses with limited budgets and resources.”
And he’s right! Connecting with other businesses in your area not only helps to build up a solid support unit but also allows you to collaborate and maximise your offering to local consumers.
Examples of this could include a restaurant teaming up with a wine merchant to put on a food and drink event, or a retailer partnering up with a cafe to offer a pop-up shop on their premises. Collaborations such as these means you could double your customer base and the opportunity to sell to a new audience - which is great if marketing and promotion budget is low. Plus, customers always like to see businesses come together - it enhances community spirit and means they have more products and services to choose from!
Give Back To The Community
Donating money to local charities and causes is a great way for businesses to give something back to the community. However, not all businesses will be in a financial position to do this.
If so, you could consider running charity events and fundraisers to help raise funds. This could include having a bake sale in your workplace, getting your employees to wear fancy dress to work to raise money, donating some of your products to a charity event or giving a percentage of your proceeds to a chosen charity. Holidays such as Christmas, Halloween and Easter are always a great time to do this and means you can get really creative with your fundraising!
Engaging with your community is not only great for business, but also really important for creating a local identity. To find out more about what’s going on in your community you can visit gov.uk which will direct you to your local council for more information.