As local business owners, my wife and I have always made it a point to ensure customers know we are locally owned and operated, and we visibly support other local businesses. This had led to customer loyalty and has built a strong sense of pride and satisfaction in our staff.
Here are some of the ways we do this.
We support other local businesses. For example, we ask local artists to display and sell their wares in the pharmacy, and we don’t charge them for the sales. Every penny of sales goes back to them each month. The result is an attractive array of decor for our pharmacy, and the creation of advocates for our business.
We let community groups use our extra space. We have extra space upstairs, and we let instructors use it free of charge for yoga and tai chi classes. This allows us to promote health and wellness to a broader audience. It attracts potential new customers. And more importantly, it’s a nice way for us to give back to the community
We remind customers we are local. We partner with other local businesses and organizations where it makes sense to increase the impact and empower our staff to spread the message and excitement. In early December, we partnered with two other pharmacies across the valley (Medicap in Meridian and Custom Rx in Kuna) to increase the impact of a “Buy Local” campaign. Doesn’t “Ladd Family Pharmacy, Medicap, and Custom Rx to give away up to $10,000 in $2 bills to the Treasure Valley community starting on Tuesday, December 4th” sound better than “Giving away $4K”?
Anyone who walked into the pharmacy received a $2 bill if they agreed to spend it at a local business. Each employee of the three pharmacies received 100 $2 bills to spend on local businesses, with 10 percent going to a charity of their choice. The bills had to be spent at a locally owned business in the towns where they work, and the money had to be spent within 30 days.
Finally, if anyone asked the employees about the $2 bills, they had to explain the program. The objective was to raise awareness of how much farther money spent goes when used at local businesses. In Boise, we partnered with Think Boise First as well and distributed information about other local businesses, about the fact that a locally spent dollar results in $68 of every $100 staying in the community.
This program gave us some good exposure on the local TV shows, in newspapers and on Facebook. Other businesses have begun asking if they can join it next year.
We sponsor and participate in local events. Instead of giving money to charity, we actively help achieve the results. I have dressed in a turkey suit for 12 hours three years in a row to try to solicit turkey donations or their dollar equivalent for the food bank. We’ve partnered with a local radio station and another doctor’s office in Meridian to try to make a bigger impact.
The result has been lots of laughs from our staff and customers and great local goodwill.
These measures cost money, but there’s a positive return on your investment. You earn more loyal customers who believe in your business. You create strong advocates for your business in your customers and your staff. And you increase the pride and satisfaction of staff. Ultimately, our “buy local” and sponsorship activities increase our own satisfaction with what we’re doing in our business, and we’ve seen these activities improve our sales. Plus, it feels good to do it.
Kip Ladd co-owns Ladd Family Pharmacy with his wife Elaine, a pharmacist. His dad was a small business owner and helped inspire him to do the same.