Every business owner is connected to a community, whether a business-to-business (B2B) company works with specific industries or a plumber helps homeowners restore their water flow. However, business owners can decide how much they want to be involved in their local communities. Some companies build strong relationships with the people around them and make a positive impact within their neighborhoods.
Investing in a community-based business model is particularly important for people in food service. Simply put, you rely on community support and favor to keep your business afloat. Plus, good food can form strong bonds in a community because of the social nature of eating together — your business can be the crux of this community
There are several benefits to developing a community-based business, and you don’t have to spend a lot to engage with your neighbors and friends. Learn how you can make an impact on the people around you and why you should.
Benefits of a Community-focused Business Model
There are both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits to investing in your local community. Intrinsic benefits come from within, they are the good feelings that come with making a positive difference. Extrinsic benefits come from outside sources and can have tangible effects on your business.
There are multiple intrinsic benefits to helping your community. Community involvement can boost your mental health by giving you a sense of belonging. It also creates a positive rush of feel-good chemicals like dopamine because you know that you are doing a good thing. Essentially, doing good feels good.
Many intrinsic benefits drive external results. For example, when your employees engage in community involvement, they will feel better about working for your business. This can increase productivity while reducing turnover — driving up your revenue while reducing your costs.
Connecting with the community will also make people want to patronize your business more, increasing your profits and helping your business thrive. Your customers will see how you give back to the town or neighborhood and will want to support your efforts. At its most basic level, treat community engagement as a marketing and public relations tool for your food service business.
How To Build Up Your Business’s Relationship With Your Community
Just like any other business process, getting involved in your community requires planning. Here are a few steps to get involved in your town so you can make a noticeable difference.
- Discover your passions: consider which groups might be a good fit for your business, like supporting a food bank or animal shelter.
- Consider the values of your staff: learn what your employees care about (like LGBTQ+ groups or the local church) so you can support them through their causes.
- Look for multiple ways to get involved: you don’t always need to donate money or food, look for ways to give your time through volunteering and community support.
- Learn about the needs of your community: the best way to address pain points is to learn about your customers and their concerns.
There are dozens of creative ways to get involved in your community. You can sponsor a little league team or donate a quiet room and snacks for a weekly AA meeting. You can hang pictures of animals that need to be adopted on your walls or fundraise for a food bank. Even attending city council meetings can give a voice to important causes you care about.
How To Create a Community-focused Business
There’s a difference between building up relationships in your neighborhood and developing a community-based business model. The latter involves building local efforts into your core values and basing every decision on how it affects the people around you. Here are a few ways you can create a community-focused business.
Work with Local Partners
One of the best ways to build up your community is to put money in the pockets of other business owners. Think about your business cards, flyers, and paper menus: you can order these prints from a national chain or you can support a local printer in your area. Your signage, landscaping, and marketing services can all come from local vendors. Even if you live in a small town, you can look for regional businesses to work with.
Working with local companies can also drive better results. A national printer might not care about your business the way a local business owner will. You can enjoy better customer service and support from these individuals.
Grow It or Buy It In Your Area
Similar to choosing local vendors, look for regional farmers, bakers, and brewers to stock your business. You can sell cocktails with gin from the local distillery and pour beer from the nearby brewery. You can also develop seasonal menus around the produce that nearby farmers sell or take advantage of a permaculture market garden in your area.
This is a great way to use your platform to highlight other companies in the area. You can elevate a local baker when your customers fall in love with their bread. You can also grow local businesses in the area so their employees can, in turn, support you.
Consider the Gaps or Pain Points in Your Community
Being part of your community means you understand its strengths and weaknesses. No town is perfect and there are always people who need help. Look at the pain points in your area and brainstorm ways to solve them.
For example, there might be a lack of public transit that makes it difficult for your employees to get to work. There could be an elderly population that could use help with basic home maintenance and yard care. You don’t need to be a superhero that solves every problem. Instead, focus on a few key issues that you care about and consider how you can address them.
Participate in Local Events and Culture
One of the best ways to develop a community-focused business is to be involved in events and activities. For example, you might decide to sell food at a local farmer’s market to excite residents about buying local produce. You can also donate your food to fundraisers and other events to support good causes. No matter concessions you may sell or where you sell them, you should always protect yourself with farmers market and or catering insurance.
Start by attending local events to see what they are like, then reach out to the organizers to offer your support. Even small sponsorships or donations can have a big impact on your area.
Any food service provider can get involved in the community. All it takes is a desire to help others and a few hours of your time.