In an episode of “Law and Order,” a prosecuting attorney works on a settlement for a case while recalling a childhood experience. He traded a baseball card of a great player to a friend for the cards of several lesser-known players. The friend repeatedly stated that this was a good deal.
This attorney, as he turned down the settlement offer from the defense attorney, said, “It is a good deal only if it is a good deal for both parties.”
The same could be said for any store in any community.
Hopefully you have built a relationship with your customers in which they refer to your business as, “My liquor store.” While some customers purchase the same items every time they shop, there are many who depend on you and your staff for ideas of how to host a party, as well as new and different wines, beers and liquors.
You should constantly remind your staff that whenever any person walks into the front door, that person represents a portion of their paycheck. And you and your staff are dependent upon these people for your own paychecks.
These people, as representatives of the community, are also dependent on us as retailers. Not just because we supply the products they want to purchase, but also because the community depends on businesses that are strong supporters of the local economy, culture and overall state of affairs. Your area has many active individuals and organizations: scouts, civic groups, high schools and colleges, as well as people who help raise money, plus other volunteers who support worthwhile causes like cleaning parks or assisting the needy.
Typically it is these individuals who start drives behind local causes. The question, for us, is whether the businesses in the community should also join these efforts.
Your business depends on these residents to shop with you, and this community of residents depends on your business to keep the community healthy. Hence the opening comment is true for your business and the community: “It is a good deal only if it is a good deal for both parties.”
This is not meant to be a feel-good story. Instead, research shows that the impression people have about a business is affected in a positive way by how that business participates in the community. Research also shows that many people decide where they will shop based on how the community is supported by a local business.
From a personal experience, I can offer several tips in this regard.
The money for supporting causes should come from your overall marketing budget. You may want to let your employees decide which community efforts your business gets involved in. And you can engage your employees by offering to make your participation and/or donations based on the number of hours that staff volunteers for the chosen cause.
Together, these ideas work to create a healthy community by way of engaged residents and businesses. It is a good deal for both.
Tom Shay is a lifelong small-business owner and manager. He has authored 12 books on small business management; a college textbook on small business financial management and co-authored a book on retailer/vendor relations. Tom has written over 400 articles that have appeared in over 70 international trade magazines. Read his recent column, How Much is Your Customer Worth?.