We are often told that we ought to shop locally, and if you live in a small or medium sized town you’ll no doubt have lots of independent businesses vying for your attention. Even large cities have small, local businesses that are competing with the big names. However, there’s more to using local businesses than just supporting the economy. It can actually offer lots of advantages to you as a consumer. Here’s why, next time you are looking for a certain product or service, you should look for businesses closer to home.
If a company consists of just a few people, you are more likely to enjoy a friendlier, personalised service. To a small company, you’re more than just a number, and you’ll often deal with the same person throughout your transaction, which is refreshing in a time when many companies see you as just a number.
Easier to resolve complaints
No matter how good a company, now and again something will go wrong, and the way they deal with it will either make the transaction hassle free, or massively stressful for you. However, it tends to be easier to deal with small businesses as:
- Their reputation hinges on each good review
- You can visit their local location to complain in person
- There are fewer people working there – so easier to complain to the right person
- They tend to be responsive to social media posts
Whether it’s a builder or removal firm, smaller companies tend to rely on word of mouth, so work harder for customer satisfaction. If you find a small business to do your job, you may only deal with one person, so if you need to make a complaint then you know exactly who to speak to.
It Can Be Quicker
Bigger companies can take longer to find and despatch items, or may have longer waits to send out tradespeople for quotes. If you find a local business, they can often nip round and give a free quote, or deliver an item quicker, which is so much more convenient. If you use a local electrician, for example, rather than someone who works for a big chain, then they’re usually self-employed and much keener to get your business, so they’ll often be more reactive to requests.
There’s Often Room to Haggle
If you visit a chain store and see an item for a certain price, then the odds are that is what you’ll pay. However, visit a small, local shop, and with more expensive items there’s often a bit of room to haggle. If they won’t come down on price, then you might be able to negotiate some extras to get the best deal. Same goes for using services, whether it’s movers or plumbers. They’ll often work with you on the price, so there’s more room for negotiation if you use a local firm.
When it comes to the biggest businesses, only a few are at the top, but when you look at smaller traders that are closer to home, you’ll usually find a more diverse choice. Using an online free business directory for your local area and you’ll be able to sort by distance, as well as using other options, and you’ll no doubt find dozens of businesses that can meet your needs. Now that everything is online it’s easier than ever to find a local business without even having to leave your home, and this means you can get multiple quotes to get the best deal.
You May Gain Customers in Return
Smaller towns tend to have a tight knit community of business owners who network and recommend each other’s services. If you’re a business owner yourself, then not only are you helping the local economy, the business you use may promote you in turn. You could therefore stand to gain more customers simply by using your friendly local services.
Small, local businesses have to work harder to bring in and retain customers, so you may find special offers such as:
- Discounts on regular bookings – i.e. for cleaners, driving lessons etc.
- Special prices out of peak seasons
- Discounts for using more than one service
Take a look what’s on their website, but also, don’t be afraid to ask what promotions they have. For example, if someone is fitting new windows in your home, they may give you a discount on new doors. Most small businesses have the flexibility to give these kinds of offers where bigger businesses can’t.
Many people who are self employed and have started their own business are seasoned professionals. You can therefore trust that they know what they’re talking about, and will give you the best advice. Take a look at how long a business has been established locally. This will often speak volumes about how good the business is, and the quality of their products and services. If you are hiring a local tradesperson, don’t forget to check their qualifications and memberships, this can easily be done online.
Less Miles Travelled
Order something made on the other side of the world and it’ll be shipped by boat or lorry, which can be bad for the environment. Choose locally made goods and you can reduce your impact on the environment which is a great feeling in general. Many people worry about their food miles and eat locally, so why not do the same with the goods you buy? It’ll be a boost to the economy and help keep big vehicles off the roads.
There are many reasons why local businesses can be great to use, from the personalised service, to the fact you can feel good about using them. The amount of small, local businesses will vary from town to town, but luckily it’s never been easier to find an independent firm online. Next time you’re considering buying a product or using a service such as a trade, think local and see how much cheaper and more pleasant it can be.