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Why it's Good Business to be a Good Neighbour

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 9 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
Business Local Business Support

So your local business support network has suggested that you might want to get involved in programmes aimed at helping your local community? The cynical business owner may well ask "What's in it for me?" How can spending money, time and energy to be a good neighbour be a good thing for your business? The chances are that you're constantly struggling to make sure you've got enough for yourself. But increasingly, local companies are getting together to form business enterprise schemes aimed at benefiting their neighbourhoods. They haven't all gone mad and their motives are not all purely altruistic. Sometimes, being a good neighbour can have unexpected benefits for you.

Raising Your Profile

If you want to do good business it's vital that people know you're out there, but modern society is so saturated with advertising that customers have developed a remarkable blindness to traditional methods of getting their attention. What's more, if you're a small business owner, it's unlikely that you can afford to compete with the big boys. Getting involved in community activities, however, can put your business on the neighbourhood map. Customers who walked past your premises before will, having heard your name, suddenly notice them and associate that with positive feelings. They'll also mention you to their friends and relatives. Many business studies have shown that the best possible form of recommendations, in terms of the purchasing it inspires, is good word of mouth.

Inspiring Customer Loyalty

One of the classic problems with the business-customer relationship is that it can seem like a case of them and us. The public are automatically suspicious of business attempts to communicate with them, expecting that all the business really wants is their money. However when people see a local business support their community, these expectations are turned on their head. They stop thinking of it as an outsider and start thinking of it as a neighbour - as one of them. Customers with this attitude can be incredibly loyal. They'll often stick with businesses which they feel are loyal to their community even when prices are lower elsewhere. You can reinforce their amicable feelings by making sure that you and your staff are always friendly to them when they visit your premises. If possible, address them by name and get to know a bit about them. In doing so, you can also get useful feedback from them which will boost your business fortunes.

Befriending Business Neighbours

So you can see why it's a good idea to be neighbourly to potential customers - but what about other local businesses? Aren't they either competitors or irrelevant to you? In actual fact, neighbouring businesses can work together very effectively in all sorts of business enterprise arrangements. In doing so you may be able to make mutually beneficial investments which you'd find impossible alone, and you can raise the profile of your community, increasing business opportunities for everyone. It can even be worthwhile to work with your rivals on occasion so that you can set mutually beneficial standards without having to worry about being undercut as a result. Such alliances aren't just about benefiting the business involved but can be extended to help the local community and even to pursue wider agendas like tackling climate change.

Working with other businesses and with the people of your local community can enable you to achieve things which your business could never do on its own. It can change your neighbourhood for the better and make you popular in the process. Being a good neighbour - even if it does require effort - is ultimately good for everybody.

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