Maintaining an active presence in your community is a smart play, no matter what kind of business you run. By connecting with your customers in a way that demonstrates care for their environment and respect for their values, you can create a positive environment for your business to thrive in.
The Science Behind Forming Connections
Research has shown that when customers feel connected to a brand or store, that they subconsciously want to shop there; a principle known as neurological connectivity. Forbes identified that neurological connectivity occurs when “customers approach the store visit as they would a visit to the home of a good friend.”
When you’re able to connect with customers on this level, your store will reap the rewards in the form of more visits, more sales, and even better quality of sales. There’s really no downside to carving out a place in your community for your business, so here are a few ways to get involved:
Donate to Worthy Causes
There are plenty of charities in most communities, all of which can use some extra support. By getting involved, not only is your business supporting a good cause, you’re also showing your customers that you care about your community.
Donation drives are effective. Consider donating 10% of your candy purchases during a specified time to a local organization like your police and fire departments, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or a local homeless shelter.
Getting involved in local charities doesn’t always mean donating money, however. Consider getting your team involved in local walk-a-thons that raise money and awareness for a good cause. You may also consider donating food items to local shelters or charities. Be creative with how you donate your time, money, and products.
Sponsor or Host Monthly Events
Sponsoring or hosting regular events may take some planning, but they can pay off in the long run. Think along the lines of a monthly crawdad boil, all-you-can-eat fish fry, or spaghetti dinner night. For a small buy-in fee ($5-$10 to cover supplies), customers can enjoy some food, spend time with their neighbors, and get to know a local business: yours!
Not all C-stores may be set up for this kind of event, so think outside the box if necessary. If you have a large parking lot at your disposal, take the party outside and hold a cookout. Invite a local band to play and keep the party going into the night.
If sponsoring an event is more your speed, senior centers, fire stations, or social clubs are often looking for local businesses to donate food or time for their events. Sponsoring an event is the next best thing to holding one yourself, especially if it goes to a good cause.
Consider running similar promotions with local youth, high school, or college teams. Free pizza for everyone home win? ½ off a smoothie? Be creative, just make sure you can afford to keep the promotion going if the team has an undefeated season!
Likewise, youth sports leagues usually look to local businesses to sponsor individual teams. For a modest fee, sometimes these sponsorships come with naming rights, meaning “Your Name Here” on all the uniforms. Now that’s one way of staying top of mind in the community!
There are always opportunities to get involved and build your store as a pillar of the community, so feel free to get creative with your community building opportunities. However, an important part of convenience store management is also being smart with how you spend your time and money.
Becoming a community store is rarely about directly generating revenue. Simply put, it’s a long-term strategy built on creating good will in your area that will pay off in the long run. When customers feel that connection; they’ll reward you with their business. So be smart, creative, and most importantly; be a good citizen!