Local businesses are the foundations of many communities. Whether its a favorite local restaurant or a summer arts festival, local services are what make your neighborhood unique. In fact, most consumers (72%) who look up local services find a story within five miles.
And it’s good they do. Local businesses do a lot of good for their communities. They can help create local jobs, unite their communities and offer a shopping experience that huge, national chain stores just can’t match. Local businesses are an important part of their neighborhoods and communities, not just financially but also socially.
Plus, local businesses and local services can offer products that big businesses simply can’t. Often these products will be better for the environment and higher quality. Someone who is providing local services is staking not just their business but their personal reputation on their work. That very frequently means a higher quality of service.
Despite all these benefits, it’s not always obvious how you can support local businesses. Beyond just the mom and pop shops, you can support local services by searching for contractors, commercial services and even loans local to your area.
Read on for 11 ways to support your local services and businesses.
1. Reach Out for Lawn Services
If you are looking to improve or enhance your lawn, look local! Lawn care services might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about local businesses, but there are likely many local services in your area for any kind of lawn service you need.
Lawn service is a broad category, however. Starting from the most obvious services, try looking up lawn care plus your city or town name to see which local services are available near you. From conventional options to organic lawn care services, businesses in your area can help. You can find a commercial landscaper or someone to help with tree removal service.
All of these services aren’t just good for the businesses, either. They can improve your home, enhance your quality of living and ensure your home stays in good repair for years to come. And while you’re thinking about your lawn, don’t overlook all your other outdoor property, including things like patios, grills and pools. If you want to build or repair a patio, you may be able to find a local contractor who can do that work. The same goes for pool cleaning services. A local search can help you find a company in your area willing to do the work.
2. Find Contractors for Home Repairs
Local services don’t just apply to the outside of your home. If you want to renovate or repair the interior of your house, you can find local businesses to help with this as well.
First, narrow down your project list. You don’t want to waste your first visit with a local contractor. Be ready by knowing what kind of renovations you want to do, what kind of budget you have for the work and the timeline you’re looking for.
Once you are ready, however, there’s no reason not to look for local services for help. You can help support a local business and get a more personal level of service while remodeling inside your home.
3. Make Big Purchases Locally
People don’t always associate big purchases with the ability to shop locally. It may be time for that change, however. Lots of larger purchases can still be made through local services.
From car loans to mortgages, you can search for local services to help you with these larger purchases. Often, a local car dealer can help you through the process of getting a new vehicle, for example. You can test drive on local roads, the kinds of roads your new car will be on most often.
The same goes for purchasing a home. You don’t need to search for a big bank you don’t know. Local real estate agents, local mortgage lenders and local banks may be able to help you instead. These local services know the area and the housing market where you live better than someone outside the region. Don’t overlook the impact of a personal touch when you’re trying to make a big purchase. It not only helps local businesses, but also can provide you a little extra peace of mind.
4. Use Local Services to Get Away
Even when you want to get away from it all, you can look locally for help. A local travel agent may be able to assist with easy travel options. They also may know the best ways to and from the airport, as well as great times of year to schedule a vacation.
These days it is easy, and tempting, to do all your trip planning online. But major vacation sites can’t account for the weather, your personal preferences and where you are traveling from. A local travel agent can. As with other local services, an agent who lives and works near you can provide a more personal touch for this type of purchase.
5. Attend Community Events
Supporting local businesses isn’t just about making purchases closer to home, however. It’s simple enough to search for local contractors and services whenever you know you need a specific product or service. That is only a small piece of the larger puzzle, however.
Local businesses do more than just run their operations. Those business owners and employees probably live in the area. Often, a local business will participate in events in the city or town where their operation is based. Keep an eye and ear out for these sorts of events! They are great ways to meet the real people behind your local businesses and services and connect with them on a person-to-person level.
Some events that local businesses may help run, participate in or sponsor include:
- Block parties
- Charity races, such as 5Ks and 10Ks
- Seasonal gatherings like summer BBQs and holiday tree lightings
- Local productions such as plays or musicals
- Festivals and other gatherings
You may already be attending some of these events anyway. Next time, however, look more closely at the names of sponsors and the booths offering information and swag. You might find some local names (and faces) that you recognize. This is a great way to meet the real humans behind those local services. Perhaps you don’t need those services right now, but you could need them down the road. The importance of these face-to-face meetings can, therefore, last far longer than just the initial meeting.
6. Tell Others About Your Favorite Local Businesses
Whether you are at a community event or just relaxing at home with friends, one great way to help local businesses is word of mouth. In a local community, word of mouth can have a huge impact. If you know someone is looking for local services, recommend a contractor or business you have used before and had a good experience with. Your recommendation can go a long way.
You can also spread the word by writing reviews. Even small local businesses probably have a presence on platforms such as Google and Yelp. If you have a good experience with a local business, take the time to write them a positive review. These can help them appear more prominently in search engines and boost the chances of others finding them.
7. Use Social Media
You don’t need to stick to the usual channels for reviews, however. Social media is the way many of us find goods and services these days, whether it’s the Facebook Marketplace or just a recommendation we see on Twitter.
Sing the praises of local businesses on your social media accounts, wherever those may be. If you see a friend asking for recommendations, don’t be shy about replying to the thread to tell them about local services that you’ve had good experiences with.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Even a personal account you just use for family and friends can have a tremendous amount of reach, especially in your local community.
What Not to Do
8. Don’t Buy into Black Friday
Black Friday has become almost as big a holiday as Thanksgiving itself. However, if you want to help local businesses, you may be better off skipping Black Friday. Many small businesses don’t participate in Black Friday. Black Friday primarily helps huge, major corporations, and not so much your local services. Therefore, Black Friday can actually be a blow to small businesses, diverting money and holiday spending away from the community and toward massive chain stores.
Instead, wait for Small Business Saturday, which takes place the day after Black Friday. This is a shopping holiday specifically about and for small businesses. It can really help your local community, too. Small Business Saturday is a way for local services to promote their businesses and meet their community.
You can even make Small Business Saturday a social event. Encourage friends and family who might have gone out for Black Friday to wait instead and go shopping with you on Small Business Saturday instead. You can avoid the scrambling crowds and still get great deals, all while helping local businesses in your neighborhood.
9. Don’t Panic Shop
Especially when the holidays roll around, shopping can take on a frantic tone. There’s so much to buy and so little time. That panic can often direct us to places like Amazon for our last-minute shopping.
While places like Amazon can get you a product quickly, they can’t support your local community the way a small business can (and will). It is tempting to give in to the frantic energy around the holidays, but that can lead to worse decisions. If possible, avoid panic shopping.
One way to do this is by planning ahead. If you already know the types of local services that are offered in your area, you won’t need to rush to Amazon when you feel a time crunch. Take the time to learn about local businesses ahead of time so you know what kinds of products you can get locally.
Plus, going to a local business will actually save you time. If you are panic shopping, Amazon is certainly convenient, but Amazon requires shipping and handling time. With a local business, you can go to a physical store that is close to home and leave with exactly what you need, no need to wait for a delivery truck to show up days or weeks later.
Going Above and Beyond
10. Host an Event
So far, we’ve talked about things that all of us can do to help our local businesses. However, if you are the type of person who really wants to go above and beyond for your community, here are a few extra special ways to get involved.
If you are the organizing type, you may want to look into putting together an event that brings local businesses and the local community together. You will need a space large enough for several businesses to put up stalls with information about their businesses. Talk to local business owners to gauge interest in an event like this before you start planning.
You can also host an event that is only for the business owners themselves. This isn’t a chance for the community to meet the business owners so much as it’s an opportunity for the business owners to meet each other. Those providing local services can meet to discuss challenges, ideas and ways to support each other. When it comes to small businesses, they benefit more from supporting each other than direct competition.
11. Create a Small Business Guide
You have become a true expert on your local services and businesses by this point. Put that knowledge to good use!
If you have the knowledge and means, put together a guide to local businesses. List the types of businesses and services that are offered in your community. You can even try to partner with those businesses to include coupons or special offers in your small business guide.
This guide is great for more than just customers. Sure, it will help people find local services and businesses they may need, but it will also let the business owners find each other so they can work together to improve their businesses.
Rewards for All
Supporting local services and businesses is good for more than just the business owners. You are supporting your entire community when you support a small, local business. Reach out in the ways you can, whether that’s simply not shopping on Black Friday or creating an entire small business guide for your community. Every little bit helps!