How community involvement can help you gain a competitive edge

This article originally appeared in Elite Agent and was produced by Benojo's founder & CEO, Martyn Ryan.

Is your business engaging with the local community in which it operates? If it isn’t, it is missing out on many benefits, not just for those around you but for the bottom line of your business. In this article, we look at the many benefits of your agency becoming involved in community programs and how to get started.

Getting started

Community involvement is about connecting with and supporting the people, organisations and businesses that exist around your own. Key to this is building meaningful relationships and collaborating with other members to help create positive outcomes and changes that benefit the whole community.

There are many and various ways in which your businesses can contribute to their local community. If you are not sure about the best way your business can give back, seek out local charities that are valued by you, your team and your clientele. This could be a nearby school, youth group, sporting club or a support service, charity or a community project that’s in need of some funding or volunteers.

Don’t be afraid to do what you do best. Consider not-for-profit organisations that could utilise you and your team’s real estate expertise. For example, your best auctioneer could volunteer their services at a charity auction, staff could take part in a career-mentoring program for at-risk youth, or your agency could help a local charity find new, affordable premises.

Why community involvement makes for better business

There are many benefits to your business taking part in authentic community involvement. These may include being considered an attractive employer, growing your brand reputation and visibility and increased customer loyalty and sales – all of which help to give your business a competitive advantage.

According to the Nielsen’s 2014 ‘Doing Well By Doing Good’ report, which surveyed 30,000 people in 60 countries, 55 per cent of respondents would pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. In the Asia-Pacific region, this was even higher at 64 per cent of respondents. Community-led businesses are also considered more attractive employers, with 67 per cent of people saying they would prefer to work for a socially responsible company.

While the ‘Edelman 2015 Trust Barometer (Australia)’ report, an annual global survey on trust and credibility across the few key institutions of government, non-government organisations (NGOs), media and business, showcased the importance of trust in consumer relationships. The report found that only 48 per cent of Australians surveyed said they ‘trusted’ businesses. Of them, 76 per cent said they purchased products and services from companies they trusted, and 50 per cent have paid more for a trusted business’s products and services. Meanwhile 59 per cent recommended the business to their friends and colleagues, and 37 per cent shared positive opinions online.

The statistics make a strong case for making your real estate agency one that is ethical and community-minded.


How to make it happen

Many businesses want to be more actively involved in helping their local community, but are unsure how to approach it. A good place to start is to speak with your team. What causes do they care about? How would they like to get involved? How much time would they like to commit? Are there opportunities to make a bigger impact? For example, could your business collaborate on an event with other neighbouring businesses or get customers involved in some way?

Shortlist a few ideas – whether it’s taking part in a fun run to raise money for a community project or donating a workday to help out at a local charity – and build a team of staff members who’ll work with you to develop a community involvement plan. Encourage your staff to get involved in community programs by allowing them to participate during work hours. Try and make it a fun, easy and positive experience for all involved.

Look at ways to streamline and simplify the often time-heavy administrative component of community involvement. Technology-led giving platforms such as Benojo can help address this. Businesses simply create a profile online, establish their own campaign or adopt an existing campaign, invite and manage participants, and oversee any related activity, outcomes, impact, administration and reporting through one easy-to-use program.

This kind of user-friendly technology makes it easy and attainable for small businesses to undertake community involvement. With the development of these giving platforms, social responsibility no longer needs to be complex, expensive and hard to manage for small businesses and the charities they support.

Looking for better ways to give? Contact Benojo to find out how we can help you improve your community programs.