Ben Franklin described part of his secret to success as “doing well by doing good.” This week we observed the Martin Luther King, Jr Day of Service. It is a day dedicated to the service of others and to the community. But doing good and getting involved isn’t just for individuals. More than ever, small businesses are seeing the benefits of positive “corporate citizenship”. By investing time, talent, and treasure, businesses can play a significant role in the betterment of their community, form a positive company culture, and, yes,…do well.
Recently, this point was driven home for me when we were right about to sign a contract worth a significant amount of money for three advertising billboards. I realized that we were falling into the same trap we were in 2007 when we’re spending big bucks on billboards and the like; anything to get the phone to ring. Then the light bulb went off. I thought, “that money would go a long way if we invested it in the community.” A score of organizations would benefit. And just think of the people we’d meet!
This year, we have experienced both our biggest growth year ever in business and a year in which we gave the most we ever given back to the community. I believe, without a doubt, that our long-term community involvement played a huge role in having such a great year. At the events we sponsor, people would say, “you guys are great!” and, “I see you guys everywhere.” When they say things like that, I take it to mean that they like us, they trust us, and they respect us. Those are the ingredients of a long-term, customer-based relationship.
So, how do we invest? We seek out great organizations doing great things in our community. We also accept invitations from our customers and have become a Certified B-Corporation. We actively seek out opportunities by asking, “if you ever have anything you want us to sponsor, please let us know.” And every week the invitations rain in. As a result, we do have to make some choices. But when we do say, “yes,” we say it in a big way. And we do it for the right reasons. That means we don’t just sponsor things. We get involved! We go to their events. We meet them. We try to bring lots of value to the program. We roll up our sleeves and get dirty! The goal is, we want to be at the events meeting people and building relationships. That might mean volunteering our talents as painters, bringing food (popcorn!), drink (water or Gatorade on a hot day), or handing out gloves to a group of runners during a Charity 5k. It also means not just sponsoring a gala or silent auction, but also buying a ticket, showing up, and making friends.
“Does it work,” you ask? It works in ways that are beyond my expectations. Now when the phone rings, chances are we met the caller at a community event. There’s a high likelihood that they will accept our price because they value what we bring to the table. Chances are, also, that they are terrific people to work for. Yes, it works! It is in my business as the best way we could market ourselves. Our company is a positive participant in the world. There is a net gain because of our existence! Our employees recognize how powerful it is by supporting our initiatives. They all show up! It’s amazing! Best of all, we become a team. I’ve overheard people asking our employees, “What’s it like at Nolan?” And I’ve been proud to hear them respond, “Yea, Nolan Painting really is a great place to work.”
The bottom line is, giving back is the best way to make friends and leave a lasting positive impact. When you invest in the community, the payoffs are huge. What business doesn’t want that? Remember, though, people do business with people they like, trust and respect. So, get involved for the right reasons. And whatever you choose to get involved in, do it in a big way!
All the Best!