During casual conversations, a lot of people tell me that they would like to help the Dwight Economic Alliance, but they don’t feel they have a lot to offer. I’m certain that’s not true. Everyone in town has some experience, skills, or network that would move the needle in Dwight if it was focused on our mission. Dwight needs resources in almost everything, and every hour we can get a volunteer to share some expertise raises the bar for the whole town. Still, it had me thinking. What are some things that anyone can do to help our village’s businesses be successful?
1. Be quick with public praise.
Did you have a great experience at a business in town? Were you surprised with something they had to offer? Was your food especially good? Did you find something cheaper or higher quality in town than you would have at a big box store? Take the time to share it. Facebook is an easy way to tell your friends that you had a great experience, but why not post it right to the businesses Facebook page so it’s seen by a broader audience? Take the time to like their page and add a recommendation. It takes only a second and shows up every time a tourist on Route 66 searches for a place to stop on their phone as they pass thru. If you have a few extra minutes, search the business on Google and take the time to write a review. These reviews are the first thing to show up for most businesses during an internet search and a bunch of positive reviews make a big difference when a visitor is deciding where to stop. Tell them what you liked and why. Five stars matter here, so if you are feeling compelled to leave a four-star review, just keep it to yourself. A community should give a business the benefit of the doubt.
2. Be slow with public criticism.
The urge to go straight to social media to vent your bad experience can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t help anything. Even though it may feel good now, it will ultimately result in avoiding someone at the grocery store or a high school basketball game. If you had a bad experience, take the time to think about the issue. Was is core to their business? Probably not. Small businesses may struggle with issues they didn’t foresee when they started the business. That doesn’t mean you should have to put up with it forever. Find an opportunity to quietly share your concern with the owner. Nobody likes negative feedback, but they would like it a whole lot more than a negative review to the world.
3. Shop local first.
Some items may not be available in town, but take the time check your local businesses before heading out of town. It may save you a trip. In some non urgent cases, certain items may be special ordered for you.
Local businesses are the lifeblood of our community. Their tax base funds our schools and our services, while they open their wallets to sponsor our youth sports. They are convenient, and they are our neighbors. Do what you can to help them succeed. It matters.