How to Connect With Your Community to Grow Your Business
As you explore the possibilities of taking the entrepreneurial route and starting a business, one question to ask with each opportunity is, “How would I attract and keep customers?”
One big factor is whether you end up going the franchise route or launching a start-up. Choose a well-established franchise, and you’ll begin with a head start because people will have likely heard of your business. Plus, most successful franchises offer great support—like turnkey marketing materials you can personalize for local use, training and peer networking opportunities that build your confidence, knowledge and, when well established, a solid product and proven method of operation.
Couple that strength with connecting with your community, and you can start strong and keep growing!
Every face-to-face interaction is a chance to build your customer base.
Certainly, there are the more obvious options for connecting with your community, like joining the local Chamber of Commerce and seeking out more intimate small business group networking opportunities. But, making yourself visible on a day-to-day basis through normal activities will build relationships even faster. Everet Tom of the Kumon Math and Reading Center of San Francisco - Outer Richmond says, “I do everything from playing basketball at my local recreation center where I see my students and families attend local skateboarding or dance lessons to patronizing the restaurants and small businesses that my Kumon families own. When I’m walking about in my community, most days, I see one or two of my Kumon students! This relationship that I have been able to foster with my community is priceless.” When people see you in other settings, they often feel more comfortable asking you about your business.
Consider sponsoring or participating in community events, like theater productions and school and charity events that will present your brand in a positive light and help you connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t. Hold regular open houses, inviting your current customers and encouraging them to bring a guest. Consider promoting the event with a special incentive available only to attendees.
Support others and make new connections.
Take the time to attend other business owners’ events as well. They will appreciate it and remember you when they hear of others needing your service. Plus, you’ll get to meet and talk with their customers and other business owners. Make a point to interact with guests—ask questions about them and listen, looking for indications that they or someone they know might like what you offer. That way, instead of potentially coming on too strong about your business, you can “soft-sell” by offering a solution to their needs. You may find a new customer or referral right then!
Partner with other businesses or organizations.
Partnering with others takes time as you build mutual trust, but it can work wonders. The owner of the Kumon Math and Reading Center of Denver-Lowry, Celeste Kupperbush, tells us, “I have a strong partnership with five schools near me. It’s been a slow and steady process of introducing myself and the Kumon Method as a resource that can help students excel in school. I’m lucky to be able to support and work with families from local charter, language and public schools nearby.” The stronger your partnerships, the more referrals you’ll receive, but remember to always reciprocate with referrals for them when possible.
Choosing the right business for community connections.
If you like the idea of building a successful business by connecting with your community, zero in on businesses that can leverage that.
You’ve seen how Kumon, the leading franchise in the after-school education category, provides opportunities to interact with businesses and individuals—in both official and social environments. Because kids can stay in the Kumon Math and Reading Program for years as they advance through the levels of the program, Kumon Franchisees get real satisfaction from the relationships they build.
Rain Shawo of the Kumon Math and Reading Center of Modesto - East let us know, “I have been invited to birthday parties, communion services, graduations, recitals and plays. My Kumon Center is not just my business; it is my Kumon family.” You may not want quite as many invitations, but with that kind of community connection, it’s no wonder Kumon has grown to have more than 1,500 franchises across the country.
Learn more at KumonFranchise.com or call us at 877.907.3071