Community Involvement Leads to Business Awareness

Giving back to your community and the people within it usually leaves the giver with a great sense of accomplishment and good will. However, if your business and its employees take time to get involved in community events, it will spread that sense of giving even further and spread brand awareness and business loyalty within your community.

While you and your business are making a societal impact, you are also actually doing good things for your business and employee morale. Studies have shown that a business’s involvement in community outreach will actually strengthen employee retention, especially with younger employees who have been taught the value of giving back through school and other organizations. And, while employee retention might not sound like a big deal, it is actually huge when it comes to the cost of replacing an employee. The recruiting, hiring and training process can cost a company thousands of dollars. Here are four other ways you can make a positive impact on your business while helping others in the community.

Increase Brand/Business Awareness

When you get involved in community events, you represent not only yourself, but your business. Introduce yourself that way. Others that you are working with will likely be curious about what you do/make/sell. And chances are, someone you are volunteering with that day will have a need for some good or service you offer. Remember, a majority of households have pets, and BioZyme ® markets canine products. You can also use the opportunity to promote your good will on your company website or social media. Take photos of your employees giving back and put them out on social media or make a display board in your store. Local customers are more likely to do and continue business with companies that are involved in the community.

Connect with the Community

It seems obvious that if you are participating in community service events that you are making connections. But your connections can lead to an amazing network of professionals, potential customers and employees. Maybe you have been thinking about engaging in social media, but don’t have the time, patience or skill set to post everything you want on your company Facebook or Twitter. When you are volunteering your time, you might just find someone who is capable of working on social media on a part-time basis, or you might be able to find other ways to connect by joining professional organizations or service groups.

Make a Difference

In a day where the nightly news is filled with so much bad isn’t it time to make a difference? You never know what the impact might be of a meal served to a shut-in or volunteering for a community Easter egg hunt will mean to a child who might not ever receive an Easter basket. Although giving back is sometimes thankless, the small smiles, hand squeezes and simplicity of knowing you made the difference to at least one person should make you want to give your time and efforts.

Grow Internal Relationships

At the beginning of this article, it was mentioned that employee retention is just one benefit of community involvement. However, if your business can devote a half-day or day to the community, it will give your employees a chance to build greater bonds, come together outside of work and appreciate one another as humans and not just co-workers. Having strengthened relationships outside the company will increase employee morale and leave a positive impression on the employees, giving them a great sense of ownership in a company that supports its community.

Giving back. It’s good for the soul, and it’s good for business. Not only does it feel good to give your time and talents, it might just help you increase company morale and grow your business at the same time.

Host a Holiday Open House

It’s the time of year for holiday parties, Christmas cookies and egg nog. Sounds like a great reason to host an open house at your business. An open house doesn’t need to be extravagant, costly or time consuming. However, it is a great way to open your doors to the community, your customers and spread some extra cheer during the winter.

If you have an actual store, especially in town or on the edge of town, perhaps hosting an open house makes a lot of sense. It is a chance to promote your business and share in the spirit of the holidays. Often, smaller towns will have a holiday parade, dedicate one night a week when they are open later for shopping or have a community bazaar. These are ideal times to hang a little garland, turn on the coffee pot and host your open house.

If you are an on-farm dealer, you can still host an open house; it might just take a little more planning and preparation. You might put more effort into promoting your event and issuing invitations. You can tidy up the shop or barn where you store product, and still put on the coffee and show your appreciation for your customers – your community.

First, you need to establish a date when you will host your open house. Find out when other events are happening and if it makes sense, plan your open house with those. If there are not a lot of other community holiday events, plan your event during a time when there are not other local community events like a basketball game or concert. Promote your event through local advertising, your store sign, a poster on your door and your social media channels. You might even want to make some phone calls to key customers or potential customers.

Next, plan what will make your open house special from regular store hours. Will you offer food and beverage? What will that involve? Are you thinking sugar cookies and punch? Meat balls in the crock pot with cheese and crackers? Or something more substantial like sandwiches and chips? Whatever you do plan, make sure you have plenty to offer. Nothing is worse than having an event and running out of food.

Provide a learning opportunity. Especially if you are a storefront, maybe not everyone in the community knows what products or services you offer. Make yourself available to share your story or have some type of game or entertainment to showcase the products. Think a store scavenger hunt or BioZyme® Bingo.

Give back to the community. Perhaps you can have a toy drive for local kids or a pet supply drive for the local animal shelter. Make it interactive – bring in a toy or purchase a bag of dog food to leave for the pet shelter and get a $5 off coupon toward your next purchase. There are a variety of ways to give to others this time of year.

If you are an on-farm dealer, your open house might resemble that an open house where you get together with friends, neighbors and customers. People are always looking for a good reason to slow down for bowl of soup and good conversation. And remember, you can also take part in community opportunities and spread the cheer.

For more ideas on hosting a holiday open house, contact Ashley Fitzsimmons at afitzsimmons@biozymeinc.com or (307) 575-1082.

Community Support Comes in all Sizes

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

This quote by Helen Keller epitomizes the spirit of community, especially at this “most wonderful time of the year.” It is often hard to think about those less fortunate in our communities and how we’d like to help them, especially with the agricultural economy in its up and down cycle. We are busy paying our own bills and trying to provide a nice holiday for our families. However, if we come together with our coworkers, friends, a church group, or another organization we can make a difference without breaking the bank.

One thing that BioZyme® did during November is gather food for community food banks. That’s right; employees across many locations including St. Joseph, Mo., Haskell, Texas, and Area Sales Managers and other remote workers gathered nonperishable food items for local food banks. Between the St. Joseph and the off-site workers, employees had the potential to donate to 30 banks in 16 different states from Pennsylvania to Texas to Montana to Missouri.

One employee visited a local grocery store where she purchased two cases of canned vegetables, four cans of chicken, a large tub of peanut butter (think non-perishable protein), a box of crackers, a jar of meaty spaghetti sauce and a box of pasta for less than $25. If each person gives similarly, that can feed several people for several meals. And in that employee’s mind, that is two trips through a fast-food drive through for her family or roughly four “foo-foo” coffees for when she gets to the big city – not a major sacrifice for others that are truly in need.

Perhaps your town has a local soup kitchen. Those places are always looking for volunteers to make and serve a meal. Would it really hurt business to shut down to a skeleton crew for a few hours one day to go and serve the community? Perhaps leave a few employees at the store to serve your customers but take the rest to the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter to help prepare and/or serve a meal. The gratitude levels do vary, but your personal satisfaction in knowing you made a difference will soar.

Several organizations typically have an opportunity to “adopt a family” by providing gifts and holiday meals for families that might not otherwise have a nice holiday. Adopting a family as a company might seem daunting or not in the budget, but if your company and its employees work together to adopt a family it can be a little easier on everyone’s checkbooks and make a lasting impact on a family. I remember when I worked at another company, we adopted a family with four or five kids one year, and they all needed winter coats and wanted bicycles. Well, we worked with the local Wal-Mart and K-Marts in town to get bikes at reduced rates when we told them what we were doing. Several of my male co-workers who didn’t really want to “shop” all pitched in a set amount – probably around $20 – and we made sure that family had bikes and warm coats. I signed up to help with the delivery that year. And even though we contacted the mom to see if she wanted to have the bikes be from “Santa” she refused. She wanted her kids to know that kind people gifted her kids those bikes. I’ve never seen 7 and 8-year-olds cry tears of joy for coats and bikes, and it was truly one of the best Christmases I’ve ever experienced.

Giving back. It is more fun to do as a group and the impact is often greater. It doesn’t have to put a big hit on one person or company’s checkbook if we all work together to make a few sacrifices to give to those less fortunate. And together, we can do so much more.

Get Involved in the Community

For business people there is no better way to receive recognition within your community than to become involved in the community where your business is located. That is especially true if you are a smaller or specialized business that not everyone might have a purpose to support on a regular basis (like a feed mill or feed and farm store.)

Taking an active role in your community is important for a number of reasons. Here are 5 ways we encourage you to get involved in your community, year-round; not just during the holidays. You might just meet some new customers while you’re at it.

Community Boards. Most communities have a plethora of boards that are always looking for people to serve on them. These can include school boards, hospital boards, extension boards, 4-H boards, FFA alumni boards, cattlemen’s boards and the list goes on and on. Remember, pick organizations that you are truly passionate about helping, and don’t spread yourself too thin. A volunteer that has too many irons in the fire is often not as helpful as one would like.

If you have never used the hospital and you are a normally healthy person who doesn’t think you’ll ever be in the hospital, perhaps that board isn’t for you. However, if you are a cow-calf producer, trying to educate consumers on the benefits of eating healthy, lean red meat, then perhaps a role on the county cattlemen’s board would be ideal.

Volunteer. Volunteering shows that you are willing to give your time – one of your most valuable assets. You might volunteer with the local ag groups like 4-H and FFA to help them with educating youth or running a judging contest or clinic. Or you might volunteer to coach youth wrestling, teach Sunday night youth group or help with a cause like Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Whatever you volunteer for, make sure it is something you are passionate about doing and have time to make a priority. No one appreciates a volunteer that is always “too busy” to meet their commitments.

Build partnerships. If you are getting involved with your community, building partnerships would seem logical. Perhaps you are building a partnership with a local feedlot to run a mineral trial. Or maybe you find a way to build a partnership with a local high school ag class. The opportunity for agricultural businesses to partner, share promotions and advertising budgets and even costs for producer meetings are endless.

Offer internships. Young labor is typically inexpensive and hardy. Are you looking for someone to help in the store after school and on weekends? What about one of these young “techno-kids” that could help you with your social media presence. Young people are always looking for “real-world” experiences, and often are willing to work for little money or the experience they can list on their resumes.

Host & participate in events. As livestock nutrition suppliers, it would make sense that you would host and participate in events, like judging clinics, livestock shows, barrel racings and ropings. However, you chose to participate in these events, be sure to get your company name exposed as much as possible so others in the area know who the title sponsor is.

Getting involved in the community – it’s probably something you do anyway. Take the time to make a difference in someone’s life and the future of your community. You might just meet a new customer along the way.