By Nicole Wisniewski, PHTA
What’s good for your community and your industry can be very good for your business, too.
That’s the sentiment many pool, spa and hot tub professional business owners adopt when it comes to giving back to the industry they love. When they give back in whatever form they choose—whether it’s educating the industry, donating money to a charity or volunteering in the community—they feel a sense of accomplishment, they experience personal and professional fulfillment, and their businesses benefit from the positive PR and boost in employee morale.
And they’re not alone. In fact, 81 percent of small businesses say they plan to give back to their communities, according to a 2019 SCORE survey. Getting into specifics, 66 percent of small businesses give to local charities, 48 percent support local youth organizations, 42 percent donate to local first responders, 39 percent support local religious organizations, 37 percent aid local service groups and 32 percent donate food or volunteer to local soup kitchens.
Want to get in on the action? Here are six ways volunteer initiatives help pool, spa and hot tub businesses thrive:
- Educate to Boost Professionalism. Collaborating and openly sharing industry knowledge with others drives understanding and expertise.
Making connections with industry colleagues via speaking engagements, networking opportunities and peer group gatherings inspires and stimulates people, injecting a renewed energy and excitement into the industry. As one industry professional said, “Every time I teach, I learn. Every time I leave a meeting, I think of a new way to look at business, a new strategy for tackling different challenges and new ways to address different types of personalities.”
Joining an association or volunteering to serve on an association committee also increases industry connections. These are relationships that you can call on when you need business advice, guidance or even to commiserate. The professional development opportunities abound.
- Drive Differentiation and Attract New Customers. Want to stand out among your local competition? Give back. The SCORE survey says 85 percent of consumers have a more positive image of a company that gives to charity. Furthermore, 90 percent of consumers want to know how companies are supporting charitable causes.
Customers faced with the choice between services and products of similar quality and price use other factors when they choose a company. Nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) of consumers say they would buy a product from a purpose-driven company, according to research from Engage for Good. What's more, 78 percent of Americans would tell others to buy products and services from purpose-driven companies.
Another survey by Cone Communications reveals that 89 percent of consumers say they would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause over one that isn’t. This has increased from 66 percent in 1993. Distinguish yourself from a competitor by backing a nonprofit organization. This could be the final factor that pushes that new customer to choose you.
- Network With Your Community. People want to know their money is benefiting their community. That’s why fixing up local parks or donating to nearby schools can improve your company’s image in the eyes of the public. When your business supports your community, your community supports your business.
What’s more is that by participating in a few annual volunteer events, you can connect your business with hundreds of positive, productive members of your community. This networking can drive community interaction and business growth. Some business owners claim it can even be more cost-effective than traditional promotional activities.
- Engage Employees. In addition to happy customers, giving back has a positive ripple effect on your employees. In fact, a United HealthCare study says almost three-fourths of employees who volunteer through work report feeling better about their employers, and 91 percent of employees believe it is important for employers to allow employees to volunteer on paid time.
If you’re trying to attract younger employees like millennials, they are more drawn to employers whose companies support a charitable cause or offer volunteer opportunities. Today, young professionals are seeking experiences over tangible benefits. The long-term gains made from philanthropic experiences can create lasting satisfaction.
Boosting internal morale also means employees are less likely to be absent or tardy to work and more likely to be productive. The SCORE study says company-sponsored volunteering has been shown to improve employee leadership and broaden professional skill sets (92 percent), help employee well-being (77 percent), boost morale (70 percent) and strengthen camaraderie with work colleagues (64 percent).
Struggling with ways to get your employees more involved? Encourage your staff to participate in community projects. You can even allow your employees to select the organizations your company supports. Or consider matching employee donations to a cause to double the impact.
- Humanize Your Brand. Even though giving back is selfless in concept, supporting a charity or local cause is a great way to bolster your marketing efforts. For instance, if you sponsor an event, you can expect your logo to show up on t-shirts and event signage and brochures, putting it in front of eyeballs that may not have been previously aware of your business.
Giving back can be a source for rich, shareable content as well as an engaging way to humanize your brand in your marketing and social media. If your employees are actively participating in a volunteer event, take pictures and post them on social media to generate continued support from your current customers and attract potential new customers.
Another perk: People crave positive stories over negative ones. Your customers want to see you representing your brand in a positive way.
- Feel Better. The best part of giving back is that it does wonders for you mentally and physically. Psychology Today reported that giving back reduces stress-related brain activity. Giving back is a great reminder that you are positively impacting others, whether it’s by supporting a scholarship or improving a part of your community.
A Gallup poll discovered that people who donate to charity report greater overall life satisfaction. In fact, the poll found that donating to a charity had a similar relationship to happiness as doubling household income. Also, behaviors like donating time or money, volunteering or making a positive impact on others can boost oxytocin, a happiness chemical in the brain, by up to 50 percent. This is similar to the effect generated by a runner’s high. A good deed can also remind you to be grateful for what you have and the company you have built.