With so many people struggling and inconvenienced in 2020, the opportunities to help those in need were endless.
Some businesses that managed to keep running throughout the pandemic learned new ways to cope with the changes and make things easier for customers. These unprecedented times presented the perfect opportunity to go the extra mile when possible and to give back. And such is the case going forward into 2021, when the financial struggles and uncertainties for many families will continue.
Small businesses do big things when they look at customers as people first – people dealing with problems that we can all relate to – and accordingly treat them with the compassion, thoughtfulness, and kindness that they would their own next-door neighbor. Anthony Duncan is one of those kinds of small business owners. He’s extending a hand to give his customers peace of mind and added value.
Duncan is the long-time owner of several Mosquito Authority® franchises, his home base being Richmond, Va. He looked at his business plan for 2021 and considered ways he could give back to the community. Duncan came up with this: He will give away 100 free yard treatments per month to frontline COVID-19 medical workers.
“I want to contribute in any way possible,” Duncan says. “With mosquito control, and the nature of it, we’re helping people enjoy their outdoor living spaces. And at a time when many people are mainly staying home due to COVID restrictions or for their own safety reasons, there’s an extra premium on enjoying everything your home has to offer.
“Look at how much these frontline workers are doing for us. So what can we do for them? I’m always thinking about the amount of stress and pressure our frontline workers undergo with this nasty virus. Their home should provide them a peaceful and enjoyable respite, and helping them keep their outdoor area safe for their comfort is something we’re blessed to be able to do.”
For companies that have been able to weather the storm, giving back to the community can come in a variety of ways:
- Donating to non-profit organizations. Look into locally based organizations where your support could make an immediate impact, like local food pantries. Your money can go even further when you offer to match donations your employees make to non-profits. Employees may be more inclined to donate if they know their contribution will be supplemented.
- Giving time. As a small-business employer, you can encourage your employees to give back as well by offering paid time off for volunteering. Provide a list of local organizations that are looking for help, and include information about special skills those organizations are seeking.
- Pivoting your business. If your company makes or transports physical goods, for instance, could you dedicate a portion of your resources to provide essential equipment to shelters, local hospitals, nonprofits and other organizations that serve people most affected by the pandemic?
Duncan, who also owns franchises in Puerto Rico and Baltimore, Md., is a former clinical psychologist who worked for the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice. His high school wrestling coach, Travis Harris, became his mentor and told Duncan he should take a look at franchising as a way to build a business that serves many and create some professional independence for him and his family. After deep prayer, Duncan felt franchising was his new calling, a path for him to strive toward his potential, and it’s been a success.
A lifelong start-early work ethic and a love of daily structure are among the principles that got his business going and growing.
“Some people think, as a business owner, you have more freedom and less work,” Duncan says. “But that’s not always true. I guarantee I’ve worked harder to reach this level, but it’s been so enjoyable, educational, and rewarding along the way. One of the goals of being a franchisee, or any small business owner for that matter, is being able to work on your own terms.”
Duncan cites three main reasons he’s been able to achieve success: 1) the desire to serve others; 2) a commitment to help team members develop personally and professionally; and 3) a can-do attitude. Each of those attributes came in handy while navigating the challenges of 2020.
“I focused only on things within my control,” he says. “There was a high amount of anxiety from many colleagues; however, they displayed a determination to work through the new normal while trying to remain optimistic about the future. Customers were very receptive and easily adapted to new business practices.
“As a business owner, you want to create a vision big enough to encompass all of your team members, and always look for opportunities to help them grow at the same time you’re finding new ways to help your customers.”
Chris Buitron is CEO and president of Mosquito Authority® (www.mosquito-authority.com), a nationwide leader in mosquito control with franchises serving communities across the U.S. and Canada. Buitron has an extensive background in franchise industries. He was chief marketing officer for Senior Helpers, vice president of marketing for Direct Energy (home services division), and director of marketing for Sunoco Inc., where he supported the company’s 4,700 franchised and company-owned rental facilities across 23 states (over $15B in annual revenues).
By Chris Buitron