WE HAVE TO BE BETTER, WE LIVE HERE.
I passed an appliance center delivery truck on the Pike the other day that had that statement proudly emblazoned on the side. We hear “Shop Local”, “Eat Local” and now “Bank Local” consistently these days. As members of the business community, we don’t often talk about our responsibilities to those locally-minded consumers.
Consumers believe that by spending money locally they are keeping cash in their communities. Making the choice to buy from a small locally-owned business is a statement and it comes with some expectations.
As locally-minded small business owners, we say “thank you” by consistently doing a few things:
- We work at providing excellent, personalized customer service. We know that consumers are our neighbors, the parents of our children’s friends and, very often, other small business owners.
- We try to be excellent employers, offering competitive wages and benefits, even though that often requires us to pay ourselves less.
- We do our best to give you competitive pricing on goods and services. In retail, it is nearly impossible to compete on price with large chain stores. We work hard to offer the best prices on high-quality merchandise. In the service industry, we are often forced to choose between quality and price, in regard to everything from hard goods to human capital. Maintaining a standard of quality builds trust and ensures longevity.
One of the differences between a big box store (or a national bank) and a small local business is that the decision making is centered here. The owners, CEO’s and managers of local businesses are all part of our community. They are our neighbors and they share our area’s resources. They participate in our local economy, both personally and professionally. The money generated daily in their businesses gets deposited here and reinvested in the community. It is the circle of business.
So what else can we do? We can pay attention. We can ask these questions: “what are we doing right and what can we do better?” “What do you need and how can we help you get it?” We can have an impact on the quality of people’s lives because we help to shape this beautiful place. I like that statement. “We have to be better, we live here.” It makes me think about what it means to be a member of this community and take pride in the responsibility that comes along with it.