Businesses exist to make money. It’s not a private company’s responsibility, per se, to contribute to the communities in which they do business; after all, you’re contributing just by providing a valuable service and paying taxes. So why voluntarily invest time and perhaps money in community projects or causes? Let’s address some concrete benefits first, since these are what usually drive a property management company to sponsor, say, a local Little League team or garbage clean-up day.
Community involvement: the bottom line benefits
It takes a while longer for the benefits of community involvement to trickle down to the bottom line, and they’re certainly harder to identify and quantify than most business initiatives, but the financial impact is definitely there.
The most powerful (and most obvious) is brand recognition and positive association. Quite simply, your potential customers are a lot more likely to hire you if they have heard of you before, and in the context of doing something good in the community. In our business there are fewer opportunities for positive brand recognition than in most others.
Property management companies are typically known only as a name on yard signs and in rental listings; perhaps on a building as well. That’s certainly good for name exposure, proving that you’re a big player in the market, but there’s no brand association at all. Contrast this to, say, a local retail operation, whose store, products and advertising all say something about it. And their customers promote the brand by word-of-mouth, whereas there isn’t enough critical mass in the single family property management business for the word to spread about who’s good to work with and who isn’t. There are plenty of people talking to one another about a great coffee shop in town, but the subject of a great company to manage your properties isn’t exactly on everyone’s lips.
Sponsoring a Little League team, for example, does two things: it increases your exposure, and it associates you with a good cause, demonstrating that you care about the community. Remember that the people who hire property management companies are – well, people. Who are they more likely to hire: a faceless firm they know nothing about, or a company whose name they’ve seen on the uniforms of the little kids in the area where their investments lie, and where they likely live themselves? People prefer to work with a company they’ve heard of, and particularly if they seem to be a nice company.
Opportunities for exposure extend far beyond the backs of the little sluggers’ uniforms. You’ll of course want to showcase this on social media, sponsor fundraisers, create signage and more. Yes, you’re drawing attention to your good works. But so what? You are demonstrating a more human side to your business, while making a positive impact on the community.
Soft benefits count, too
The more someone’s work seems an abstraction, the less happy they are doing it. Getting involved in the community that’s providing your living is the perfect antidote. The yearning for community is a basic human trait, and these traits aren’t left behind when you walk into your office each day.
You and your people will be happier in your work when you have a connection to your constituency that goes beyond extracting money from it. And though it’s almost too obvious to mention, it simply feels good to do nice things for others – whether it’s you personally, or your company.
Of course you can get much more creative than simply sending a check to a Little League team. If you want the emotional benefits, sponsor a barbeque and get your people there to serve it! It’s an opportunity for team spirit and plain old fun, in addition to giving your staff a real connection to the cause.
Pick your passion
There are so many possibilities for make a community contribution that it’s hard to know where to start. I used a Little League team as my example, but here are just a few of the myriad possibilities. Good choices include beautification and crime reduction, since they have a direct relationship with the property management business:
- Tree planting initiatives
- Community clean-up
- Boy and Girl Scouts
- Neighborhood watch/crime reduction programs
- School benefits
- Community fairs
- Free outdoor concerts and performances
- Building, support or renovation of community facilities
There’s no reason to view community involvement as a burden or responsibility. After all, it really isn’t your responsibility as a business to give anything away, be it time or money. The beauty is that it actually does pay to do good, benefiting both the givers and the receivers.