While global trade and distributed business have turned out to be the unexpected success stories of the pandemic, job losses and the need to stick closer to home have also facilitated some of the most significant increases in local business for generations. In fact, with small companies now accounting for 99.9% of US businesses, it’s fair to say that we’re more inclined to shop close to home again.
This creates an interesting dichotomy of consumer expectation which, on the one hand, accepts questionable and sometimes problematic behavior from our biggest reaching companies, but also increasingly expects pristine, loyalty-driven trust from community-based smaller businesses.
This can seem confusing to the people at the helm but, far from seeing it as an injustice, it’s important to see this difference for the opportunity that it offers. After all, in large part, customers don’t require trust with companies like Amazon because loyalty isn’t on the cards. By comparison, local businesses are far closer to home and heart, meaning that, when they’re shopping here, clients are truly looking to feel a love that lasts. This is great news and is a goal that should especially take to the forefront of the business floor in the following ways.
# 1 – Start in the area you’re in
As the idea of ‘local’ business increasingly returns to consumer consciousness, small businesses that move in from out of town or even out of state automatically pit themselves against sometimes long-standing and most definitely local companies. Offset that impossible-to-win competition by starting in the area that you either grew up in or have lived in for some time to ensure integration with rather than against local offerings, and a generally warmer reception.
# 2 – Proactively perfect your processes
Trust is a delicate balance and, in business especially, can be impossible to repair once broken. As such, small businesses that rely on trust to build steady incomes must take proactive steps to prevent issues from ever arising. Obviously, this most often means implementing solutions like Office 365 or this tickler system software to better manage and oversee processes and delivery. Care should also be taken to ensure expansive staff training and a generally flawless customer journey from start to end and even beyond.
# 3 – Humanize your brand
People don’t trust brands – they trust people. This is why social media has become such a significant business tool but, when operating locally, you need to go a step further. Something as simple as spending time behind the till instead of in the back office can make an enormous difference to ensuring consumers easily put a face to your company. Equally, organizing your own events (fun days, in-store presentations, etc.) and attendance to external live events can more effectively get your face, and ultimately your products, out there.
The business stakes are high right now, and anyone looking to break into the spaces left in local markets needs to work fast and hard to cement their place. Trust can help you do that, and these tips can help you to achieve that goal.