Why Making Local Connections Makes a Difference

On March 26th, we celebrated the opening of our latest Power Home Remodeling Group location in Chicago with a ribbon-cutting event where elected officials and notable members of the business community gathered to hear our plan to bring jobs and revenue to the area. At Power, the nation’s sixth largest home remodeling company, we’ve experienced significant expansion over the past five years and now have locations in eight markets, from the East Coast to the Midwest. For a company like ours, which was started in 1992 by two cousins in their post-college apartment in Pennsylvania, being an active part of a local community is an essential element of our growth and success.

When we open a new location, our first step is to introduce ourselves to members of the local government as well as business groups, such as the chamber of commerce, to make connections and build relationships that will help us to ingrain ourselves into the area. From providing insight into the issues facing the region’s homeowners and businesses, to helping us establish credibility among those audiences – these connections are invaluable and can be a real asset to any business, whether or not it is new to an area.

At a time when many business owners feel strapped for time, and eager to focus only on initiatives that will directly impact their bottom line, investing energy in this might seem unnecessary. However, taking a few simple steps can go a long way in building and sustaining active and beneficial relationships within your local community:

  • Join your local chambers and associations: When we moved our headquarters to Chester, PA in 2010, the area was in the beginning stages of a revitalization effort. By reaching out to the Institute for Economic Development (IED), a consortium of private-sector corporations and non-profit organizations that is committed to the physical, economic and social revitalization of the City of Chester, we were able to get a seat at the table and be a part of the conversation. There are collaborative organizations like this in most communities, and the benefits that come along with a membership or seat on the Board of Directors range from the opportunity to network with likeminded business owners to the chance to make a true impact on the community at large. Take the time to check out your local chamber’s website to find out which events, committees, and meetings might be right for you.
  • Introduce yourself to local government officials: Often when we open a new location, we invite members of the local, state and federal government to join us at our ribbon-cutting ceremony so we have a chance to meet face-to-face and show our commitment to creating opportunity and providing a worthwhile service to the region. Giving these representatives a chance to meet our executive team and employees, and see our office space in person, is a great way to let them know that we are serious about succeeding in the area. If you are unable to meet your local legislators in person, send a well-crafted, thoughtful letter of introduction and follow up with a phone call. In a time when unemployment levels are still high, government officials need to hear from the businesses in our industry to know that we are hiring, thriving, and working hard.
  • Give back to the community through service: At Power, we make community service a company-wide priority and when we open a new location, we commit to doing so on a local level. As a national corporate sponsor of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), one of the leading foundations for pediatric cancer, we have brought the ALSF message to each of our eight locations through fundraising efforts among customers and employees alike. In addition, we’ve donated time and money to YouthBuild in several markets and in 2011 launched Power University, a community-based mentorship program in Chester, PA. Selecting a cause that resonates with both your leadership team and employees will go a long way in ensuring participation and interest, and ultimately, a greater impact on both organizations.

Finally, don’t forget that one of the most important steps in starting and building lasting relationships in the community lies in the follow through. Creating connections with local associations, chambers and government representatives means nothing if you neglect to maintain these efforts. A simple note of thanks after a meeting or phone call can go a long way in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship in the community.