Doing business locally has a plethora of benefits for both the consumer and the business owner that go far beyond themselves. Keeping vital spending dollars within the community is the fastest, most effective way to increasing the local economy and building up local infrastructure. It’s not rocket science to see that spending money here and paying for services and products sold and serviced by your neighbors (who in-turn will spend their income at local restaurants and shops) will translate into a stronger and more sound community. So, why is it that more and more consumers go outside of their locale to secure products and services?
Two words. “Customer Service.” For too many business owners there is the thought that opening up a company that is locally owned and operated is enough to bring our community through the doors to spend their money. The premise that one will do business for the sole reason that they are the only locally owned operation in the area is greatly flawed. There are several main components to getting a consumer to create loyalty to a brand or service and locality is, quite frankly, not at the top of the list. The local business owner CAN have a major advantage over the large, “Big Box” store or company but it can not expect those advantages to just appear by opening the front door in our town.
Customer service should be the cornerstone of every business. Not only will good customer service give a business owner an advantage over an out-of-town competitor, but it will also give them an advantage over local competition. The advantages weigh heavily to the local, small to medium business owner exponentially if you can deliver great customer service. Large companies and out of town companies are limited to their “out of the box” decisions that a local business owner can make. In most cases it can take numerous telephone calls or letters to get a large corporation or business to deviate from its own policy. They have grown so large that exceptions can not be made because it can upset their business flow. Smaller locally owned companies can be more flexible and tailor services to their clients on an individual basis while giving more attention to them at the same time. Local businesses recognize their customers by name when in contact where as most large regional or national companies know their clients by what shows up on a computer screen, and they also treat them that way as well.
The loss of a customer or client is greater to the local business owner and therefore retention efforts and policies should be more aggressive in the attempts to keep the client. Large companies know that attrition is part of the game and if you go, you go. They know that there will be a new client around the corner or on the next call. The local shop owner will do more to earn your business, and once they have it will do even more to keep it.
The local business owner is in touch with the community more than a company based outside of the area or region. Their children attend school here. They shop here. You will run into them around town and they are approachable. The local business owner not only pays a staff of people to do the same, but also invests the company’s capital in our town as well. They give to local charities and buy products and services from others like them. They also recommend other local businesses to their friends, family, and business associates.
Doing business locally is a good thing to do, but only when the company is doing the right things by their clients. Owning and operating a business in your hometown is a privilege that carries great responsibility and must be worked for in order to achieve success.