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By Cathy Paty
Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce
In a rural community, such as Sullivan County, locally-owned businesses are an integral piece of the puzzle. Many people don’t realize how they can positively or negatively impact local businesses with their shopping habits. Many of our community’s favorite local businesses are more than places where money exchanges hands. They are places people enjoy gathering and patronizing.
Businesses, towns, and the citizens of Sullivan County should work towards a common goal- strengthening the community and this is what shopping locally can do. Numerous studies have shown that more of your dollars are recycled into the local economy when you shop at locally-owned businesses.
Good customer service becomes imperative for local and small business owners to ensure their customer retention. A company with excellent customer service is more likely to get repeat business from customers.
Consequently, the company will benefit with greater sales and profits. Contrarily, companies with poor customer service may lose customers, which will have a negative impact on business. It costs a lot more money for a company to acquire a customer than to retain them, due to advertising costs and the expense of sales calls. Therefore, the efforts that go into maintaining quality customer service can really pay dividends over time.
Doing business locally means more tax dollars for schools, roads, public services, and much more. And the owners of those businesses – well, they in turn spend money locally, thus injecting even more life into the local economy. But there is also a human side to shopping locally - building your community. When you think of your hometown, what do you see? Do you see unique shops and boutiques along a quaint historic Main Street? Or do you see strip malls and box stores? When family comes to visit, do you take them on a tour of the mall? Or do you take them to your historic downtown? When you think of dining out at your favorite restaurant, you most likely think of a local establishment – the charm, the atmosphere, and the unique dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.
People that have a positive experience with a company’s customer service will likely tell two or three others about their experience. Therefore, quality customer service can be a source of promotion for organizations. Contrarily, a person who has a bad customer service experience will likely tell between nine and 20 people.
Customer service is also important to an organization because it can help differentiate a company from its competitors, according to the article titled “The Importance of Customer Service” at Drew Stevens Consulting website.
For example, it may be difficult to tell the difference between two smalltown drug stores, especially if their prices are similar. Therefore, putting extra efforts into customer service may be the thing that gives one drug store a competitive advantage.
Every taxable dollar spent in Sullivan County benefits important town-provided services like police and fire, senior services, libraries, street maintenance, street lights and parks. Sales tax generated from Sullivan County transactions stays in Sullivan County (4% of gross taxable sales) and contributes to the quality of life you enjoy.
Remember, the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce offers avenues to both help promote business to business relationships, but also low or NO cost customer training opportunities for your business and staff.
We know that shop local efforts will support and increase retail sales, business services and business-to-business spending. When you buy from a small local business you are not supporting a corporate mission. You are paying for dance or music lessons; you are buying little-league uniforms, and promoting good will. You are putting food on a family’s table and sending a student to college. You are making the American Dream come true for somebody in your community and most likely, someone you probably already know.