At your service: Giving back
By Russ DantuFeatures Business Intelligence customer service dantu opinion
Doing the right thing for the right reasons is good business.
I get asked for donations almost monthly. Sometimes it’s to speak for free at an event and sometimes it’s in my other business where branded swag and apparel is requested. Sometimes it depends on the time of year as to how much I can do but I almost always do something when asked because it is just good business sense.
I have made it a priority the past several years to give back to the community as much as I am able. Obviously, like many of you, the past few years have been challenging, but that didn’t mean there weren’t opportunities that wouldn’t cost me a lot to make a real difference. People remember companies or individuals that help out with their causes. Case in point: in the past three years, I’ve been volunteering for a Christmas organization that provides gifts and Christmas hampers to families in need. They have strict criteria and a family can only be nominated or apply once every four years. After the first year of volunteering, I told them I’d love the opportunity to see if I can save them some money on the sacks and bears they use for their Santa-themed handouts. I didn’t ask to see what they were paying. I just truly wanted to see if I could save them some money.
In the past two years, that has now turned into almost $47,000 worth of business and it’s saved them a large chunk of money they were paying the previous supplier.
Here’s the rules for giving back to the community that have worked well for me and maybe will help you as well:
Always do it because you truly want to give back and make a difference. I see so many people who volunteer that have hidden agendas. This becomes apparent very early on and people may call you out on it or ask you to leave. If you have a hidden agenda, you are doing it for the wrong reason.
Don’t give more than you can afford. Whether financially or through time commitment, if it is going to stretch you, you may let them down or have to back out of what you said you will do. There is nothing wrong with being conservative in your offering and then upping it if you are able. If we offer too much and then fail to follow through, it could leave a bad taste in their mouths.
It’s OK to promote your business when volunteering, but be strategic with it. Build the relationships first. Slow and steady wins the race. Learn about the organization or the other volunteers and what they do and see if you can offer them some business.
Let your suppliers and customers know what you are doing. If done properly, it won’t be seen as bragging. Saying it is part of your strategic planning sessions that happen every year shows them that your company mandates giving back to the community. The added bonus is that I’ve recruited several companies and many individuals over the years to join in on different causes and make a difference.
Think of it as an educational opportunity. If you have the budget or time, look for some of your employees to get involved as it is an incredible way to build a positive workplace culture.
There are many ways we can give back, including financial contributions, sponsorship of events, volunteering on a board, joining Rotary or other volunteer organizations or taking the lead ourselves and organizing a fundraiser for a worthwhile cause.
Check out your city or town and see what you can do to give back. The benefits just might surprise you!
Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit russdantu.com.
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