Leveraging the Community to Your Benefit
When opening a franchise that is new to the area it can be difficult to get established as a community hub. Many people love a place where they can get together and have a nice meal in a friendly atmosphere. The desire to create such a place can have its challenges if you are not prepared to the work needed. Here is some advice to achieve long term success by staying relevant in the community and leveraging the unique qualities of of your product.
1. Customers are the source
From the first day of business it is important to pay attention to your customers and stay committed to them. Make it a point to be in your store and speak with your customers. They drive your business and can also have a lot to say about the community needs. You are doing a disservice if you don't listen to them. You also cannot simply open a business and then walk away expecting terrific results. If you don't stay connected to your business and your customers, the business isn't going to work.
2. Hit the Ground Running
Advertising before you open is a huge part of getting business in the door. A simple "Coming Soon" sign will generate a buzz in the community. Use social media to also create that buzz about your business. Simply posting something to your Facebook page can get you a ton of feedback and create word-of-mouth exposure that you can't create on your own. While you may have a decent amount of foot traffic upon opening, you should still get involved in the community right away. Joining the local chamber of commerce is a great way to get involved. There are always activities and meetings. These are business owners just like you. The opportunities become more apparent to you as a business owner. Don't say "no" to an opportunity that can expand your business. Ask other business owners questions about sponsorships and fund raising events. Community involvement can be difficult and time consuming, but the rewards are endless.
3. Capitalize on Local Events
Community based events and fundraisers are relatively low cost for a business. There isn't much work involved in speaking to other local businesses, schools and other establishments. Rely on your past work experience. Was your previous employer involved with a local charity or fundraiser? Use that to your advantage. Being able to give back to the community will also be truly gratifying.
4. Use your Employees and Customers
By keeping your ear to the ground in and outside of your business, opportunities will come. Example, if you have an employee who is involved with a local charity see if you can help with that charity as well. The same goes for customers. If there is a local group that needs a place to meet, let them know that they can use your location. If you are new in the area, get advice from your customers about the community, where to go, and more. Loyal customers will always be on your side. The vital key is making them loyal and that starts on the first day.