Your Way to More Business This Summer

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In this space, two months ago, I wrote about the importance of integrating information into your training program for employees as it relates to your business goals. This month, my column is about you.

Because we live in the greatest country in the world, many of us have been afforded an opportunity most others can’t comprehend or experience. So I ask: what are you doing for the greater good of humanity, and what’s next on your agenda to make the world a better place? I’m talking about giving back, paying it forward, corporate social responsibility or any other term you want to use. It conjures images of philanthropic endeavors, affording the beneficiaries a more optimistic outlook about a means toward an end.

We all know huge corporations donate time, money or services to worthy charitable organizations. Those donations have a wide-ranging positive impact on a slew of things, such as funding scholarships, health research or essential community need programs and environmental initiatives. No doubt many of you are involved in these activities on a more personal level and, perhaps, have been for years.

My point is, if you’re not currently involved, now is the time, as there are many benefits available to lube shop operators who adopt this stance and support the building of trust with consumers in your local market.

Let’s begin with why you should do it. For starters, brain research indicates an immediate “good feeling” associated with giving one’s time in assisting others. It also suggests giving back feeds higher levels of overall satisfaction with one’s life. An adaptation of Eiseley’s essay, “The Star Thrower,” drives home the point: One day, a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up something and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t possibly make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw in back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

How will you make a difference? Limited only by your imagination, giving back can be anything you desire, from coaching teams to reducing your environmental impact. Starting close to home has a direct impact within your close-knit community. If you think about it, that community directly influences your level of success. Nurturing the connections between family, friends and acquaintances creates a sense of belonging to something greater than just you, as an individual.

While being a third-party philanthropist is easier and usually based on financial giving, it’s also letting someone else do your bidding, and frankly, removes you a bit from the direct line of making a difference.

I encourage you to get started by picking causes you believe in, that are close to home and fill a need that resonates with you. Rallying your team together for brainstorming sessions improves buy-in and success, as well as strengthens the overall goal through bonding while at the same time promoting camaraderie and forward momentum.

Once you settle on your targets, set goals that are significant enough to have value but are attainable so success is eminent. Recap your progress frequently, so you stay on top of the objective while at the same time drawing continuous encouragement from the accomplishment of successes toward your goal. You can post this information in your stores, which reinforces cohesiveness with the team and raises customer awareness of your efforts.

The most important part of your new practice includes being vocal about the positive impact you are directly making. You’re not boasting, but rather celebrating how your achievements are making a difference. It feels good and resonates with customers as a subtle reminder of the genuine impact you have on your community. Showcasing your achievements makes it known that you’re supporting good causes, and customers like to affiliate themselves with businesses that extend goodwill in some manner.

This can be as simple as a plaque or picture on the wall or developing a short message you can post on your website and send to the local media. The bigger the celebration the better, be it related to scholarship donations or athletic events, such as triathlons, fun runs or bike rides that raise money and awareness for a cause or activities that promote positive environmental stewardship.

Understanding the positive perception evoked in customers through the extension of goodwill is PR that goes a long way in defining who you are and how you are viewed in the community. It promotes greater trust, so take the lead. You may surprise yourself.

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